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Sleep talking or somniloquy - does it bother you

Updated on July 8, 2011

Sleep talking - Is it a disease?

Sleep talking or somniloquy is a common sleep disorder. But if you as an individual have this problem, or your family member has a problem with sleep talking you may be a little disturbed. Generally speaking this is not a major problem so there is not much to be worried about, though there are times when somniloquy should be taken seriously. It is often understood that a person who has sleep talking is talking in his/her dreams, while this may or may not be true, I would like to make it clear that in most cases it may not have a real medical or psychological significance. If you can take a joke in the middle of the night then you would just laugh it off.

Sleep talking - no need for concern

When we got married I realised that my husband had the problem of somniloquy. As concerned I was, when I would try to ask him what he is saying, or if he wants anything he would say ‘just forget it’ and go back to sleep. When my older son started having the problem of somniloquy I was worried, but now that my little one has it I laugh and couldn’t be bothered with it. Let me explain this to you. I will share with you some information before I share my experience with you.

Facts about sleep talking

Somniloquy literally means sleep talking. It is speaking or uttering sounds while asleep and being unaware of it.

Though it is categorized under Parasomnia or sleep disorder, it is not a disease or illness and may or may not have any medical or psychological significance.

It is considered to be a problem commonly occurring among members of a family.

Children are more prone to it than adults. It has been reported that 50% of children have the problem of sleep talking. Most often they overcome the problem before puberty.

When somniloquy occurs in adults, it could be brought on by stress, illness, deprivation of sleep or situations of anxiety or concern surrounding them.

Sleep talking may be associated with other mental illnesses or physical illnesses and sometimes other sleep disorders.My husband was under considerable stress at the work place and the talking stopped when the situation changed.

Sleep talking can sometimes be very indistinct and unclear while at other times it may be a long speech, or at others just grunts and mumbling. My younger son would sit up in bed and sing a whole song before lying down and sleeping again. He would not be aware anything if you asked him about it the following morning. It would disturb our sleep, but we ignored it and set the conditions right for him which has almost completely stopped his sleep talking.

Though sleep talking is not a major problem, attention needs to be given when there are signs of stress, crying or violent emotion being expressed during these episodes.

In children this could be an easy way of identifying problems of adjustment at school, with caretakers or day care centers. Children often express fears and stress by crying or screaming loudly during their sleep. This is what happened with my older son. In the day care he was in at that time the maid would speak in a loud and threatening voice or pick on him as he was a quiet kid. It was his night terrors and sleep talk that gave this away. I quickly had him removed from the place of stress and he was back to normal.

It is often said that sleep talking is a part of the person’s dreams. This may or may not be true because somniloquy is a disorder of sleep and occurs when the person is shifting from one state of sleep to the other.

The severity of the problem can be graded under 3 categories – mild when it is occurs less than once a week, moderate can be more than once a week but not every day while it is categorized under chronic problem if it occurs every day.

Social and psychological issues arising out of sleep talking

Though somniloquy is not an illness to be treated, it can cause a lot of embarrassment for the person while enjoying activities like camping, travelling etc. This could cause a dent in the persons self confidence.

It can cause disruption of sleep to other members in the family especially your partner.

Some tips to control/reduce sleep talking or somniloquy

Ensuring that the person has enough rest. Sleep deprivation causes an increase in episodes of somniloquy or sleep talking.

Reducing stress and anxiety causes the person to sleep much more comfortably and there are few episodes of sleep talking.

Ensuring proper bed times i.e. a regular bed time every day irrespective of weekends or holidays helps in the reduction of such problems.

A lighter meal before bed time does also help.

It has been noticed that the reduction in consumption of carbonated drinks or beverages with caffeine also reduces sleep talk.

A regular night routine for sleep time is highly recommended for children and may be useful for adults too.

A comfortable room temperature may help reduce sleep talking.

Night light in the room of children who have night terrors would be of great help.

Medical intervention for sleep talking

No tests are required to diagnose a person with sleep talking but there are other methods that can be used to study sleep patterns and understand the problem from a medical perspective. Polysomnography or sleep recording is used by medical practitioners to identify sleep patterns which may reveal the actual cause of the problem. Keeping a sleep diary could also help. Recording of bed timing and waking time needs to be maintained. Recording sleep talking or just the time would also help provide adequate information for the doctor to help find out if there are other related sleep disorders. It would be important to stress that there is actually no treatment for sleep talking.

Another important point to keep in mind is that somniloquy could occur as a result of fever or injury to the body or any other acute illness. When sleep talking occurs during such times, they need to be treated for the actual problem, i.e. fever or injury.

If sleep talking is associated or accompanied by somnambulism (sleep walking), sleep apnea or other problems then it is time for concern. This needs to be brought to the attention of a medical practitioner and treated for it.

Sleep talking - nothing to worry about

A certain amount of awareness on the part of the individual, understanding and cooperation from family members could play a large part in helping the person overcome the problem. Though there is nothing to worry about as far as sleep talking is concerned, these precautions mentioned above could help reduce the problem. Now that you are armed with some information, I hope you will be able to help others or maybe yourself as well.

I would love to hear from you .......

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    • profile image

      nikita singh 

      5 years ago

      i have problems while i am sleeping... kind of somniloquism i think.... sometimes i talk while i am sleeping, or crying out loud unconsciously or uttering words for the span of some consecutive time period..... do i need any medical treatment???

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Steph Harris, Oh dear.. that is just some silly sleep related problem.. and that is it.. you are saner than most people I guess. Yes, it is rather dangerous when you sleep walk .. Glad that you can laugh it off.. Getting more sleep and getting the stress out generally helps.. try it .. Thanx for sharing ..and I am glad to written this hub and met you :)

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      OMG .. walking to your neighbor's house..Glad that you are over it now.. Ruby.. thank you so much for taking the time to share and comment . It is always wonderful to have you here :)

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      D-richie, I was in a great hurry posting this hub that I forgot the internal links.. I will do it when I get sometime to edit it. Thanks for the comment . I will check out your hubs.. soon. :)

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Visionandfocus, that is funny. So you did get to hear what was on her mind ..It was just some raw , unfiltered comments that you heard .. Hope it was not bad. I guess she is stable otherwise..LOL Thanks for sharing this story :)

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Paradise, you have described that so well. People sometimes just mumble unintelligible stuff that is weighing on their minds.. My little son talks back to me and goes back to sleep :) It is so cute.. we have loads of fun that way :)

      Thank you for sharing your experience, I appreciate it :)

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Allexia, I am glad that I wrote this hub. It seems like so many people have this problem. Oh no you are perfectly alright..The only thing that you need to do, is be cautious and take certain precaution. No, there is nothing to worry about. Thank you for sharing and God Bless :)

    • Steph Harris profile image

      Steph Harris 

      7 years ago from Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom

      Thanks for writing this hub as I used to be a habitual sleepwalker, the amount of times I have woken up either stood at the front door, thank god I started to take the key out and hang it elsewhere, I have woken while in the wardrobe, or even just trying to get out of a room through a non existent door in the middle of the wall.

      Luckily my husband and myself had a sense of humour about such things, but at least I can now tell him that my brain was not totally unhinged at the time. I used to think I was going to end up in a mental hospital if it had carried on.

      Thank you for sharing with us.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Cara, you really don't have to worry about somniloquy. Sleep talking is only a disturbance that can be ignored in most cases. Thank you for taking the time to read and the comment :)

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      7 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I've never experienced sleep talking ( Somniloquy ) A new word for me. As a child, i was a sleep walker, once i woke up tangled in curtains at the window by my bed, other times i would go next door and wake the neighbor up, never remembering i did this. Thank goodness i grew out of this. Thank you for sharing.


    • d-richie93 profile image


      7 years ago

      You have a great hub. Try adding inlinks and see if that will score you some more points.

      Please visit one of my hubs and tell me what you think

    • visionandfocus profile image


      7 years ago from North York, Canada

      A friend bunked in my room at college one time and startled me with a string of comments. Half-asleep as I was, just glad she didn't expect me to answer back! Glad to know she wasn't certifiable! lol

    • Paradise7 profile image


      7 years ago from Upstate New York

      My former husband did some sleep talking. It wasn't anything a person could understand--sort of a sleep-mud mumble. I think it was about the dog, he kept thinking he had to get up and get the dog out and couldn't quite get awake enough to do it. So I did it, told him the dog was let out and it was okay to go back to sleep, and he would.

    • allexia26 profile image


      7 years ago

      nice, glad to be informed, my son often talks in his sleep mostly about things that happened before he went to sleep, glad its not nothing to be really worried about

    • cardelean profile image


      7 years ago from Michigan

      Glad to know that it is not a concern. My husband sometimes talks in his sleep and both of my children do too. In fact my son will sometimes fight with his sister in his sleep. And it is usually after they have had a difficult day together. Thanks for the great information!

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Glad to know that you are out of danger's way.. because people who sleep walk are unaware of the dangers around them. They would just walk on to a road or on sharp objects etc.. Most sleep disturbances are stress related and often removing the stress restores life back to normalcy. So here is wishing you peaceful and refreshing sleep always :) God Bless !!

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      The sleep walking only happened when I was a child. A few years after my mother had died actually and now that I think of it there was quite a bit of stress in my life at the time. Had to deal with a new step-mother.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      That was fast Susan! Well, sleep talking is not serious while sleep walking is. I take it that you no longer have it as you speak of it in the past tense. Really there is nothing to worry about, children out grow it well before puberty. Even if it reoccurs it is when they are really stressed out.. removing the stress often restores balance.

      Thank you for sharing your experience with us and for the interesting comment. :)

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Interesting hub. When I was a child I would get up while asleep, walk into the living room and sit on my dad's lap and have a conversation with him. Of course I would never remember it in the morning. I also was prone to sleep walking. None of my children have as far as I know talked in their sleep. Glad to read that this is nothing to worry about.

      Up and useful!


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