Sleep talking or somniloquy - does it bother you
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.