Iowa Sleep Blog

What is sleep talking?

Monday, March 21, 2016

From a few incoherent words, to complete conversations, sleep talking, also technically known as somnliloquy, is a sleep disorder that involves unconscious talking while asleep. While many people assume sleep talking involves saying real words, many times it can be a mixture of noises that don’t sound anything like words. Anyone can experience an episode of sleep talking, but it is most common in males and children.

Triggers for sleep talking

Sleeping talking can happen at any time during the night and during any stage of sleep. In the earlier part of the night, usually the deepest stage of sleep, the sleep talking may sound more like mumbling and gibberish, while later in the night, during lighter stages, talking can become more understandable – to the point where you might be able to actually carry on a conversation with the sleeper. There are many things that can potentially trigger sleep talking listed below.

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Alcohol
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Other sleep disorders

What do sleep talkers say?

There is not much that is known about the context of things said while asleep. Some if it might be related to a past events, experiences or relationships that have no relevance now, while some of it just doesn’t make any sense at all. No matter what it sounds like, sleep science says that your sleep talking is not a product of a conscious mind, therefore you won’t remember anything you said while sleeping, or be able to predict what you might talk about.

Can you treat sleep talking?

Even though it is not physically harmful, individuals who are prone to sleep talking might find it stressful to sleep away from home or near other people for fear of what they might say in their sleep. There is no formal treatment for sleep talking, but there are measures one can take to reduce the likelihood of an episode. Sticking to a regular sleep routine, and practicing healthy sleep hygiene, can help.

While sleep talking does not harm the sleeper and might be a little annoying to a bed partner, it could be a sign of an underlying sleep disorder that is keeping you from sleeping well throughout the night. If someone you know could utilize the expertise of a sleep doctor, get in touch with one of the doctors at Iowa Sleep to learn more, or send us your sleep questions through our easy online form.

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