The Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment of Sleep Talking

Sleep talking, as the name suggests, is a disorder wherein people talk during sleep without the knowledge of it. Read this article for more information about the symptoms, causes and treatment of this disorder.
The utterance of speech or sounds during sleep without being aware of the event is known as sleep talking. This is not an uncommon problem, especially in children. Also known as Somniloquy, it can occur at any point in the sleep cycle. Also, it is a fact that the lighter the sleep the more understandable the speech. It is said that during the early stages of sleep people may have entire conversations while in deeper sleep, this may be restricted to moans and nonsense.

People who talk while asleep are mostly not aware of the fact. The factors that are often responsible for sleep talking are anxiety disorders, strain, and fevers. In most cases, this disorder is not serious and can be resolved over time or with age. Of course, sometimes it has been associated with other sleep disorders, this is the only time when it could become serious.

Social humiliation is often the most serious outcome of sleep talking or somniloquy, as a lot of unintentional information is verbalized. There are times when it also disturbs the sleep of the affected person or the bed partner. It is in situations like this that further evaluation should be considered.

What are the symptoms associated with sleep talking?

It is often accompanied by muttering or speaking during sleep. There are times when speaking and muttering is accompanied by moaning, singing and shouting.

What are the causes of sleep talking?

It can occur at any stage of sleep. It is not only when a person is dreaming. Mostly it occurs during the NREM sleep, i.e, Non rapid eye movement sleep. It may be associated with:
  • Psychiatric disorders such as anxiety disorders.
  • Medical disorders like febrile illness (fever).
  • Sleep disorders such as obstructive apnea syndrome, sleep-walking, or REM sleep behavior disorder.
Other factors that affect the behavior of a sleep talker are stress, fever, some medications and it may even be due to substance abuse.

What does the treatment for sleep talking include?
  • Sleep hygiene - Where the patient is educated to avoid drugs, alcohol and sleep deprivation.
  • Medications - This program includes teaching the patient about the usage of antidepressants or sleeping pills to promote sleep.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy - In this program the patient is provided with effective, long-term strategies to overcome anxiety or stress.
Tips to reduce sleep talking
  • Reduce stress levels as much as possible.
  • Do not partake of a heavy meal before bedtime.
  • Follow a proper sleep routine.
  • Get proper rest as deficiency of sleep increases somniloquy.
It is advised that when a person is sleep talking, do not try to wake them suddenly. That will cause disorientation and confusion in the mind of the sleep talker. It is believed that more than 50% children and almost 5% adults talk in their sleep. So, it is nothing to be worried about. But if the person shows violent behavior when asleep or screams and shouts, it is best to consult a doctor immediately.