Home HealthTopics Health Centers Reference Library Research
Join us on Facebook Join us on Facebook Share on Facebook

Sleep Disorders

Talking in my sleep

12/04/2007

Question:

I talk in my sleep almost every nite, I talk so much it distubs my husband, and I do wake and I hear myself but don`t seem to be able to control it, what causes this?

Answer:

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. In some individuals, sleep talking can be brought on worsened by certain factors such as medications, lack of adequate sleep or alcohol intake.

Unfortunately, there are no studies that have looked at effective treatments for sleep talking and thus recommendations cannot be made based on solid science. Reasonable strategies might include making sure you get enough sleep on a regular basis and avoiding alcohol. Trying to arrange your living situation to avoid putting yourself in a position where your sleep talking is overheard would be a good idea, though this sounds as if this may be difficult in your case. There are some reports where the use of sedatives may reduce sleep talking and this could be considered, but it would require a prescription.

If you are very concerned about your problem, then I recommend you speak to your doctor to determine if there are factors in your history that may affect your sleep talking or if there is a specific sleep-related cause for your sleep talking. A referral to a Sleep Specialist by your primary care physician may be necessary to help sort out whether testing is needed. Once a history and physical examination have been performed, the Sleep Specialist will decide if further evaluation or specific treatments should be tried.

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!

For more information:

Go to the Sleep Disorders health topic, where you can:

Response by:

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