Talking in Your Sleep: Not-So-Silent But Deadly

Talking in your sleep is not known as a severe sleeping problem, but it can be a warning sign for other underlying health problems. Similar to snoring, it can cause your significant other to wake up quite upset with you as well. Usually, this causes most sufferers to be forced to get their shut-eye in the guest bedroom. What causes sleep talking and can I do anything about it?

Sleep Talking and Its Causes

Sleep talking, or somniloquy, is defined as a sleep disorder in which a person talks while sleeping without being aware of it. What a person says while talking in their sleep can range from gibberish or mumbling to complex monologues and dialogues. Some sufferers can even sleep talk with their eyes open and wake up without any memory of it! Sleep talking can be triggered by several factors including stress, depression, sleep deprivation, day-time drowsiness, alcohol, and fever. Many times it runs in families with these external factors triggering it. Thank you genetics! Most times, many people who sleep talk have other sleep disorders, such as confusional arousals, nightmares, sleep apnea and REM sleep behavior disorder. For adults over 25, sleep talking is usually associated with a mental or medical illness.

Symptoms of Talking in Your Sleep

A person can sleep talk at any time during the sleep cycle. In the first two stages of sleep, which are not as deep as REM sleep, sleep talkers may have entire conversations. During the deeper stages of sleep (stages 3 and 4) speech is typically gibberish. The severity and duration of symptoms can vary:

Severity
  • Mild: sleep talking occurs on less than a weekly basis.
  • Moderate: sleep talking happens more than once a week
  • Severe: sleep talking happens every night
Duration
  • Acute: 1 month or less
  • Subacute: Less than a year but more than a month
  • Chronic: One year or more

Talking in Your Sleep

Who is most likely to sleep talk? The condition occurs most often in males and children. About half of all children between the ages of 3 and 10 talk in their sleep. For adults, the number drops down to approximately 5% who sleep talk. Since people who talk in their sleep are unaware of their behavior, their voices and the type of language they use may be different from their speech when they are awake. Not much is known about the origin of the content of what is said during sleep talking. However, other than the gibberish, some of it might be related to past events and experiences.

Your sleep talking may indicate you have another underlying medical problem that needs to be treated!

However, for the most part, no treatment is necessary for sleep talking. If you are annoying your partner in bed, or you just want to eliminate this embarrassing problem, there are certain steps you can take. A few courses of action are eliminating alcohol consumption and heavy meals as well as reducing excessive stress. Also, establishing a regular sleep schedule is very important. Getting enough sleep and practicing sleep hygiene can reduce the frequency and severity of sleep talking.
So, talking in your sleep may not be a killer in and of itself, but it’s a tricky little sleep disorder that you should keep a close eye on.