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Sleep Disorders

Hubby talks to another women in sleep.

11/28/2007

Question:

My husband talks to another women in his sleep, tells her he misses her, how good it feels to be in her. Tells her things I have said to him. (I`m 18 yrs older then he.) I said to him that I realize that he doesn`t like to be seen with me in public. Last night he told whoever, that I said this to him,there was a pause, then he said I wanted to say you bet, but can`t. Then mumbles, something, then getting diability soon. Several weeks ago while at his dad`s home and in front of me he tells his dad that my Dr. is finally helping me with SSI disability. That will sure take load off me, her check can make house payment. Then he realized what he was saying and added, then my check can go into bank, for savings. He has had one affair that I know of with some at work even came home with claw marks on his back (2003). Now says he NEVER had affair. He talks to this person often but never have I heard what I did last night. He 43, me 61. Please, what do I do????????

Answer:

That's quite a story and sounds like a difficult situation. I'm not sure if I can help you with your relationship, but I can provide you with some information about sleep talking and what we understand about it.

Sleep talking, also known as somniloquy, is not an uncommon problem, especially in children. While we don't know exactly how common talking in sleep is, it is estimated to occur in about half of all children and in about 5% of adults.

Sleep talking can range from infrequent quite sounds to full spoken sentences to singing and shouting. Often, the speech cannot be understood and may sound like mutterings or gibberish. The cause of talking in sleep is not entirely known. Most of the time, the cause of this sleep behavior can not be linked to any identifiable underlying problem or disease. And in most cases, the problem is not serious and tends to resolve over time or with aging. However, in some cases, it has been found to be associated with other sleep-related disorders, such as sleep walking, REM behavior disorder (an unusual disorder in which individuals tend to act out their dreams while asleep), sleep-related epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep apnea, and the nighttime sleep eating syndrome. In addition, in adults who begin sleep talking in adulthood (in other words, they did not do this as a child), there may be a higher rate of psychiatric disorders. However, most adults who talk in their sleep do not have these problems.

Oftentimes, the most serious consequence of sleep talking is social embarrassment from unintentionally verbalizing subconscious thoughts or dream content. This may be the case in your situation, where your husband may be verbalizing dream content. What exactly this means and how this relates to his awake experiences is unclear. In other words, I can't tell you with any degree of certainty that what he is saying in his sleep relates to an experience or simply a dream.

If your husband's sleep talking is disrupting your sleep, as it sounds that it is, then further evaluation should be considered. It might be a good idea for your husband to discuss this problem with his primary care doctor. A referral to a Sleep Specialist may be necessary to help sort out whether further testing is needed. Once a history and physical examination have been performed, the Sleep Specialist will decide if additional evaluation by a sleep study or other testing is needed.

As far as your relationship goes, it sounds as though there are number of important issues to address and counseling should be considered.

If you would like additional information regarding sleep and sleep disorders, you can obtain it on the American Academy of Sleep Medicine website. This website also contains a list of Sleep Centers across the country so you can locate one near you if need be. The website Sleep education.com also has plenty of consumer friendly information related to sleep. Good luck!

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Response by:

Dennis   Auckley, MD Dennis Auckley, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University