Have you ever heard your partner or child mutter words or even whole sentences in their sleep? Maybe someone has told you, that you talk in your sleep. While it can be unnerving, sleep talking is generally nothing to worry about. Below, we're going to break down everything you need to know about sleep talking and what you can do about it.
What is Sleep Talking?
Known by sleep professionals as somniloquy, sleep talking is a sleep disorder, where an individual will talk in their sleep, without being aware of it. The talking may come out as small mutters, long sentences or even yelling. Some have been known to carry on full conversations with an unseen person, presumably someone in a dream. Sometimes the person next to you will be able to understand everything that comes out of your mouth, but oftentimes, especially with mumbling, they are not able to discern any meaning.
While it can make you nervous that you may have revealed some deep dark secret, most of the words we say in our sleep either have no meaning, or are simply funny or insignificant. Most people do not reveal secrets in their sleep, so you can rest a little easier with that knowledge. In fact, sleep utterances are not admissible in a court of law, so don't stress too much about what you say. According to one study
, the most common word muttered in sleep is, No
, followed by the frequent appearance of profanities.
What Causes Sleep Talking?
Sometimes, sleep talking runs in families, but more often, sleep talking can be brought on by stress, depression, sleep deprivation or fever. As many as 66.8% of adults have reported
talking in their sleep at some point in their lives, but only 6.3% of adults speak at least once a week. Sleep talking is more common in children, with about half of all kids under ten experiencing some kind of speech during the night.
Patients with psychiatric disorders talk in their sleep almost twice as often as healthy individuals, especially in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder. It seems that stress and emotional or physical disturbances play a huge role in determining who will talk in their sleep.
How Can I Stop Sleep Talking?
- Since stress is a major contributing factor in sleep talking, managing stress can be a great way to reduce our night conversations. Try getting more exercise, especially yoga- which has its own stress relieving qualities, but any body movements are going to be helpful.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can contribute to both stress and sleep disturbances.
- Follow a regular sleep schedule by getting adequate amounts of sleep and practicing proper sleep hygiene.
- Although possibly embarrassing, it may be beneficial to try and record one of your nighttime "episodes" of sleep talking in order to better understand what you're dealing with.
- For bed partners, earplugs or white noise can help minimize disturbances.
Should I See A Doctor About Sleep Talking?
In general, no treatment is necessary for sleep talking, but if it bothers you or persists for a long period of time, seeing a medical professional may be helpful. There may be an underlying medical explanation for your sleep talking, such as a misdiagnosed sleep disorder, or debilitating stress or anxiety.
Sleep talking is not physically harmful, but it can be embarrassing. It also contributes to an restless nights sleep for both you and your partner. Following the suggestions above may help to alleviate some symptoms. Better sleep will lead to happier days and less frustration.