How to Stop Sleep Talking

By April Mayer
Last Updated On October 16th, 2020

Sleep talking, medically known as somniloquy, is a common parasomnia. 66 percent of people have had the occasional sleep talking episode, though nearly half of all children ages 3 to…

Fact checked by
 Dr. Jade Wu Dr. Jade Wu

Dr. Jade Wu

Dr. Jade Wu, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in behavioral sleep medicine. She completed her Ph.D. at Boston University, and finished her medical psychology residency and clinical fellowship at Duke University School of Medicine.

How to Stop Sleep Talking

Sleep talking, medically known as somniloquy, is a common parasomnia.

According to the National Library of Medicine (NIH), Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source 66 percent of people have had the occasional sleep talking episode, though nearly half of all children ages 3 to 10 and 5 percent of adults regularly sleep talk. Still, sleep talking is low-risk and not considered a medical issue.

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While sleep talking is typically inconsequential, it can be an issue if a sleep talker shares a room with a partner or roommate. It can disrupt the other person’s sleep, leading to daytime fatigue, irritability, or insomnia.

There’s no cure to sleep talking, but there are still ways you can reduce the regularity of your nighttime chatter.

1. Avoid Unnecessary Stress

Minor and short-lived stress is normal on occasion, but prolonged stress has serious negative effects. Not only does stress impact the quality of your sleep, but it can lead to an overall decline in your health, causing issues such as high blood pressure, depression, or diabetes.

Not all stress is avoidable, though there are ways to minimize it and reduce its impact on you mentally. Practice deep breathing, try journaling before bed, and develop good time management skills so you’re not suddenly bombarded with projects, plans, or work.

2. Have A Consistent Sleep Schedule

An irregular sleep schedule can disrupt your circadian rhythms, sometimes leading to not enough sleep. ,  

“Both a disrupted circadian rhythm and insufficient sleep can make someone a little more prone to parasomnias such as sleepwalking or sleep talking,” explains Dr. Jade Wu, sleep psychologist. “Having a consistent rise time in the morning, and generally winding down at around the same time in the evenings can lessen your chances of becoming sleep deprived, which may also help with sleep talking.”

Give yourself enough time in your schedule to sleep adequately (7 to 9 hours of sleep per night is recommended for adults). To promote consistency, try to wake up within an hour window or less every day.

3. Practice Good Sleep Hygiene

Practicing good sleep hygiene, or habits regarding your sleep health, can lead to better sleep, improve your overall well-being, and reduce any sleep disorders or parasomnias you may have. Some ways to practice better sleep hygiene include:

  • Use a comfortable mattress and pillows: A comfortable sleeping surface is critical for your comfort and bodily support throughout the night. Find the best mattress and pillows for your sleeping position so your spine is neutral and you don’t experience any aches and pains.
  • Clear your room of disturbances: Bright lights and loud noises don’t belong in your bedroom. Electronics, such as your phone or television, should always be turned off at night since the blue light they emit keeps your brain awake. Try using blackout curtains or earplugs to create a more peaceful sleeping environment, if needed.
  • Sleep in a cool environment: Sleeping too hot can cause overheating and make it difficult to sleep restfully. Find what’s comfortable for you.
  • Have a calming nighttime routine: Try creating a nightly routine to help you wind down before sleeping, such as taking a warm bath or shower, reading, deep breathing, or stretching. This can help you de-stress and clear your mind after a long day or work or school.
  • Don’t exercise too late in the evenings: The adrenaline from exercising at night can keep you awake longer than necessary and disrupt your sleep, so it’s best to exercise at least three hours before sleeping. However, any physical activity is beneficial for your overall health and if the evening is the only time you can exercise, try sticking to light aerobic exercises, such as walking or stretching.

4. Limit Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant made to prevent tiredness and help you stay alert. When trying to sleep properly and reduce your sleep talking, consuming lots of caffeine is counterproductive and can ruin your sleep. Avoid drinking more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day (the daily recommended limit for adults) and enjoy your caffeinated beverages in the mornings.

5. Keep A Sleep Diary

Try writing a sleep diary for at least two weeks and use it to track your sleep and wake times, as well as to identify any patterns or triggers. Keep track of, any medications you took, what time you went to bed, and woke up, if and when you exercised, and any major events or stressors of that day.

If you worry your sleep talking has a medical cause, keeping a sleep diary can be useful to your doctor for diagnostic purposes.

Causes of Sleep Talking

Researchers aren’t positive what causes sleep talking, though it’s potentially at least partially genetic. Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source Sleep talking occurs more frequently to individuals who have mental illnesses including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Sleep talking occurs more frequently to individuals who have mental illnesses including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Sleep talking may be due to REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD), characterized by acting out one’s dreams, which may include yelling and talking. Other sleep conditions, like sleep apnea, Restless Legs Syndrome, and a nocturnal sleep-related eating disorder, disrupt sleep and cause sleep deprivation, which may also make sleep talking more likely.

Other potential causes of sleep talking include stress, sickness or fever, and certain medications.

Symptoms of Sleep Talking

For the most part, sleep talking is just an incomprehensible and nonsensical monologue. The person will usually mumble and have slurred speech because they’re unconscious. On rare occasions, however, a sleep talker may actually speak eloquently and can even hold conversations with others.

The topics of conversation Verified Source Oxford Academic Research journal published by Oxford University. View source are usually random, though a person may talk about pessimistic topics and frequently say “no.” However, it’s possibly a sign of stress and is unintentional as the person is unaware of what they’re saying.

Sleep talking episodes typically last up to 30 seconds, and usually contain just a few words, before the sleeptalker goes quiet for the rest of the night. Other times, a person may continuously speak throughout the night.

When To Speak To Your Doctor

How to Stop Sleep Talking

While sleep talking rarely requires treatment, you may want to reach out to your doctor for help if it continues chronically or if you scream or behave strangely when sleep talking. In these cases, your sleep talking may be a sign of an underlying condition or sleep disorder, such as REM Behavior Disorder (RBD).

A sleep study, or polysomnography, is commonly conducted to diagnose different sleep disorders.

What Can Your Partner Do?

As the sleep talker, you won’t realize what you’re doing and won’t be bothered, but your sleep talking may interrupt your partner’s sleep if you share a bed.

As the non-sleep talker, be understanding towards your partner, as they cannot control their talking episodes. Encourage your partner to improve their sleep talking by helping them reduce stress or having a more consistent sleep schedule. If their sleep talking is persistent, suggest they speak with a doctor.

In the meantime, try wearing earplugs to bed to block out the noise. If this doesn’t help or is uncomfortable, you might sleep in separate rooms temporarily.

FAQs

Is it bad to wake a sleep talker?

No, though it’s not really necessary as most sleep talking episodes are quite short. Though, if a person is talking for a prolonged period of time, you may want to awaken them.

If someone is sleep talking in the middle of a night terror episode, it’s best to wait for it to pass as opposed to waking them. Trying to wake a person having a night terror is difficult and can be dangerous as they may potentially hit you. Even if the person does wake up, they’ll be left disoriented and may struggle to go back to sleep.

Why do I cry in my sleep?

Crying while sleeping is common for babies when they are transitioning between sleep stages, though this may also occur to adults. Crying in your sleep or waking up crying can be a sign you may have a sleep disorder or parasomnia. However, it can also be caused by nightmares, depression, stress, or trauma. If you are consistently waking up crying, speak to your doctor for aid and counseling.

Why do I sleep with my eyes open?

Sleeping with your eyes open is known as nocturnal lagophthalmos and is likely caused by nerve or muscle issues around your eyes. While it can seem like a strange, but unproblematic habit, sleeping with your eyes open can damage them if left untreated. It can potentially lead to eye infections or scratches, corneal ulcers, and loss of vision.

Most people realize they’re sleeping with their eyes open because another person, such as a family member or partner, tells them. But, if you sleep alone and constantly wake up with blurry vision, dry eyes, or sensitivity to light, you may be sleeping with your eyes open.

If you believe you’ve been sleeping with your eyes open, contact your doctor for treatment options.

What is sleep paralysis?

Sleep paralysis is a parasomnia where a person has a temporary inability to move or speak despite being conscious. This occurs when a person is just waking up or on the cusp of falling asleep and may last for a few seconds to a few minutes.

While the experience is not dangerous, it can be anxiety and fear-inducing and coupled with hallucinations. The person may also feel as though there is a physical pressure on them as though they are choking.

Sleep paralysis may be caused by other sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy or sleep apnea, and is a sign your body is not transitioning through the sleep stages correctly. However, the parasomnia can be prevented using similar methods for stopping sleepwalking.

If your sleep paralysis causes you to be too anxious to sleep comfortably or is causing daytime sleepiness, you should speak with your doctor for treatment options.

Can you text in your sleep?

It may seem a bit bizarre, but sleep texting, or using your phone while you’re asleep, is not so different from other parasomnias such as sleep talking or sleepwalking. It’s potentially caused by different sleep disorders, stress, lack of sleep, or certain medications.

Sleep texting mainly occurs in response to an incoming text alert or notification and is most likely to happen if you sleep beside your phone. Just as with sleep talking, sleep texting messages will mostly be gibberish and have no basis in reality.

To prevent sleep texting, keep your phone out of your bedroom and take steps to improve your sleep health, such as minimizing stress, limiting caffeine, and having a consistent sleep schedule.

Conclusion

Simple changes such as reducing your caffeine intake or maintaining a consistent sleep schedule can help put an end to sleep talking. Although sleep talking is generally not a major cause for concern, if it’s disrupting your roommate or partner’s sleep or is coupled with other negative symptoms, it might be time to reach out to your doctor.

If you are the partner or family member of someone who sleep talks, suggest options to improve their sleep talking or temporarily sleep in a separate room, so you’re not disturbed at night.

This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.


About the author

April Mayer has a degree in exercise physiology and is a firm believer in the power of a good night’s sleep. April’s passion lies in helping others lead more productive lives by helping them get sound, restful sleep every night. April primarily writes about foods and vitamins for better sleep and has written several “better sleep guides” covering a wide variety of topics in her time with Early Bird.

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