What is Sleep Talking?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2018
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Sleep talking is usually a benign parasomnia or sleep disorder and it is also called by the name somniloquy. It is a condition that is very common in childhood and does occur in some adults. Essentially the name describes it all; people talk, mumble, laugh or converse while sleeping. Sometimes this conditions occurs with other parasomnias, and it may be particularly disturbing to other people if it is part of night terrors, as most often occur in children. While usually sleep talking does no more than make a little a noise, with or without night terrors, it could involve screaming or crying, and this can be very disturbing to others or harmful when the person is thrashing in bed or moving about on their feet while in a terror.

As mentioned, the main feature of sleep talking is talking or making significant noises while sleeping. In childhood and adulthood this may not mean much, except that a person is not making smooth sleep transitions. A certain amount of wakefulness may occur although the person is still sleeping, and this arousal may cause the person to regurgitate language or make a variety of sounds.

Usually, these brief moments of talking are harmless, though they may disturb someone else’s sleep. This isn’t always the case. When sleep talking is associated with night terrors or with another condition called rapid eye movement behavior disorder (RBD), things can get much more difficult.


The majority of sleep terrors occur in childhood, and parents are usually able to control a child enough so they are unharmed. RBD is most commonly associated with adults, who can become hurtful or violent to bed partners or simply talk or scream so loud that they make it impossible for sleeping partners to get any sleep. RBD is also linked to moving in bed as a person responds to their dreams physically.

While most sleep terrors subside in early childhood, a sleep specialist should evaluate new incidence of them in older kids or in adults. RBD requires assessment too; the condition is dangerous to the person and anyone who shares a bed with the person. Normal treatment includes giving drugs like benzodiazepines, which may help resolve sleep talking episodes and violent physical reactions.

The average person who exhibits sleep talking doesn’t usually need treatment, though a bed partner might need earplugs. Most people are advised to pursue better sleep habits, and these could include not exercising in the afternoon or at night, forgoing caffeine many hours before bedtime, and engaging in some de-stressing or relaxation techniques that may help improve sleep cycles and transitions. Additionally some people will have this condition for very temporary periods. Occasionally a medication for short-term use or an illness that includes a fever can cause it. Once medication use has ended or fever is resolved, the sleep talking goes away.



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Post 1

My husband is not one for night terrors, but not long after we were married, I noticed he was prone to talking in his sleep. He would actually wake me up, talking nonsense. I would tell him to go back to sleep and he would put his head on the pillow and resume snoring. It was weird -- more like sleepwalking than the murmurs or mumblings one usually associates with talking in your sleep.

He has said I talk in my sleep occasionally, usually when I'm having some kind of vivid dream. I don't generally remember the dream, either, which is a little odd.

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