What Causes Sleep Talking and How to Stop Talking in Sleep

What is Sleep Talking?

Sleep talking, medically known as somniloquy, is a common condition where a person talks when sleeping. Sleep talking is a type of parasomnia, which is an abnormal behavior which occurs during sleep. Sleep talking is quite common and is not considered a medical issue. The nighttime talking during sleep is quite harmless, however, it could be graphic and even R rated sometimes and the content could be vulgar or offensive to the listeners. Sleep talking commonly does not last for more than 30 seconds per each episode; however, there are some people who sleep talk multiple times during a night.

The late-night tirade could be very eloquent, or the words could be hard to understand or be mumbled. A person can talk lengthy speeches or make simple sounds in his/her sleep. A person can whisper or shout in their sleep. Sleep talkers seem to be talking to themselves; however, there are some instances where they seem to be talking to someone else. If someone is sharing a bedroom with a sleep talker, then that person usually will not get enough sleep at night due to disturbance from the sleep talker.

There are many individuals who talk in their sleep. About 50% of kids between the ages of 4 and 10 years talk in their sleep and have conversations in their sleep. There is a small percentage of adults who talk in their sleep. These utterances can take place every night or occasionally.

According to research, sleep talking is found equally among Girls and boys and it might also run in the families.

Sleep Talking

Symptoms of Sleep Talking

People who sleep talk don't remember about it the next day. He/she finds out about it from other individuals. Other people who have heard them chatting in their sleep will tell them about it. Individuals can talk quietly in their sleep or shout during the night or when napping. Someone sharing the bedroom can complain that the sleep talking is not letting them get proper sleep in the night.

Causes of Sleep Talking

People commonly think that sleep talking occurs when dreaming. But according to research, it is not proven that such nighttime chatter is linked with dreams. An individual can talk in their sleep in any stage of the sleep. Sleep talking commonly occurs by itself and is often harmless. But there are some cases where it can indicate a health condition or a more serious sleep disorder.

There are two types of sleep disorders, namely sleep terrors and REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) which can cause some people to shout during their sleep. Sleep terrors are also known as night terrors and commonly involve thrashing, kicking and frightening screams. It's very difficult to wake up someone who is having a sleep terror. Children suffering from sleep terrors will often sleep talk and sleepwalk. People who are suffering from RBD will shout, yell, grunt, and play out their dreams often violently. Sleepwalking can also occur with sleep talking and also nocturnal sleep-related eating disorder (NS-RED), a condition where a person eats when asleep.

Other Causes of Sleep Talking Include:

  • Emotional stress.
  • Mental health disorder.
  • Fever.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Certain medications.

Treatment for Sleep Talking or How To Stop Talking in Sleep

If the sleep talking is severe or disturbs others who are sharing the bedroom, then it is better to consult a sleep specialist, especially if the sleep talking has started suddenly as an adult. Medical advice should also be consulted if sleep talking causes screaming, intense fear or violent actions. A doctor should also be consulted if the nighttime chatter is interfering with the sleep.

If a child is talking in his/her sleep or having other problems when sleeping, then a pediatrician should be consulted immediately.

A sleep specialist will ask questions regarding how long this sleep talking has been going on. This question will also be asked of the roommate, bed partner and parents. Bear this in mind that you could have started sleep talking in your childhood.

There are no specific tests required to diagnose sleep talking. The doctor can order tests, such as sleep recording (polysomnogram) or a sleep study to look for signs of other sleep disorders.

Treatment is rarely needed for sleep talking. However, treatment can be done for more serious medical condition or sleep disorders which are causing severe sleep talking. After other sleep disorders are diagnosed, the doctor will frame a treatment plan accordingly.

There is no particular method or procedure to stop talking in sleep. A person should avoid stress and try to get plenty of sleep which will help in reducing talking in sleep.

Try to keep a sleep diary so you can identify your sleep patterns. A sleep diary is also helpful in finding out about any underlying problem, which is causing the sleep talking. A sleep diary should be kept for at least two weeks. You should note down the times when you go to bed, the time when you think you fell asleep and woke up. The following things should also be written down, such as the medicines which you are taking, and the time of the day you are taking them. The type of drinks, which you are drinking every day, such as tea, coffee, cola, alcohol etc.

The time when you are exercising etc… all this should be jotted down in a sleep diary and shown to the doctor to assess the exact cause behind sleep talking.

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Last Modified On: March 25, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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