Somniloquy, also known as sleep talking, is the utterance of speech or sounds during sleep without awareness of the event.
It 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 percent of adults.
Sleep talking can occur at any point in the sleep cycle. The lighter the sleep, the more understandable the speech. During the early stages of the cycle, people may have entire conversations while asleep. In deeper sleep, somniloquy may be restricted to moans and nonsense.
People who talk while asleep have no awareness that they are talking, and often speak in an emotionless tone. Anxiety disorders, strain, and fevers are often responsible for the disorder. Somniloquy is not usually considered a serious problem unless other disorders, such as somnambulism and apnea, are involved.
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, 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, there may be a higher rate of psychiatric disorders. However, most adults who talk in their sleep do not have these problems.
Often, the most serious outcome of sleep talking is social humiliation from unintentionally verbalizing subconscious thoughts or dream content. Sometimes, sleep talking can disturb sleep of the affected person or the sleep of a bed partner. In this situation, further evaluation should be considered.
- Speech or sounds during sleep
- Polysomnography (sleep recording) shows events of sleep talking that can occur in any stage of sleep
- Events are not associated with awareness of talking
- It can be associated with psychiatric disorders such as anxiety disorders
- It can be associated with medical disorders such as febrile illness (fever)
- It can be associated with other sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, sleepwalking, or REM sleep behavior disorder
Reasons For Somniloquy
Children seem to be prone to it, especially if they sleepwalk too. Some people carry on whole conversations, while others just mutter and make other sounds. If the frequency of sleep talking is bothering the family and disturbing sleep for others, there are some things you can keep in mind.
- Reduce the strain and anxiety levels
- Keep to a regular schedule of going to bed and getting up at the same time
- Don't eat a heavy meal right before bedtime
- Make sure the sleep talker gets plenty of sleep every night, someone who is sleep deprived is more likely to sleep talk.
- If an event occurs, make sure the sleep talker is safe and gently soothe them
Somniloquy can be very troublesome to other family members.
Here are a few tips to help reduce nighttime talking:
- Reduce stress levels as much as possible.
- Follow proper sleep hygiene.
- Avoid heavy meals before bedtime.
- Get enough rest: sleep deficit increases somniloquy.