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How to Stop Sleep Talking

Malena Piper

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Sleep talking is more common than most people realize. A survey in Norway found that 66.8 percent of participants reported sleep talking, making it far more common than other issues such as sleepwalking or night terrors.

You may be unaffected by sleep talk. However, that does not mean that it is not bothersome to those who are sleeping near you. If you are prone to sleep talking and looking for ways to decrease or stop, here are some tips for doing so.

What is Sleep Talking?

Sleep talking (also known as somniloquy) is a type of parasomnia, and as you might guess, occurs when a person talks in their sleep. Sleep talkers usually mumble or babble incoherently, but sometimes sleep talkers will speak full sentences. Typically, sleep talking episodes only last around 30 seconds,  but they can happen multiple times throughout the night.

Causes of Sleep Talking

If you or someone you know talks in their sleep, you may be wondering what causes it and how you can fix it. Sleep talking is often harmless, but quite a few external factors can contribute to sleep talking, like:

  • Stress
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Mental health disorders including anxiety or depression
  • Medications
  • Sleep terrors
  • Illness such as a fever

Frequent sleep talking can also signify a more serious underlying condition, such as REM sleep behavior disorder or a mental health disorder. In the case of an unknown health condition, you may want to get tested to make sure you do not need medical attention.

Sleep talking is more prevalent in children. Half of all children 3 to 10 years old talk in their sleep, while only a small percentage of adults engage in sleep talk.

While it might make sense to talk because of a dream you’re having, scientists are hesitant to link the two close together. You may speak during any stage of sleep, not just while dreaming.

There are several ways to reduce sleep talking. Still, it is often difficult to stop sleep talking altogether, as there is no known cure, treatment, or remedy to silence somniloquy entirely. Here are some ways that you can improve your sleep and help to eliminate your sleep talking.

1. Practice Proper Sleep Hygiene

By practicing proper sleep hygiene, you will get a good night’s sleep and get your sleep talking under control. Here are some things you can do to make sure you have good sleep hygiene.

Avoid heavy meals before bed

Eating a lot of food before bed is tied to heartburn and acid reflux that disturbs your slumber. Many sleep experts recommend eating your last big meal at least 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.

Go to bed on time

Ensure that you go to bed early enough to be sure you are getting enough sleep to take on the next day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend 7 or more hours of sleep for adults.

A sleep calculator can help you determine your ideal bedtime by counting back from when you wake up. Don’t forget to factor in the 15 to 20 minutes most people need to nod off.

Avoid electronics

Shut off electronics such as TV, computer, or smartphone at least an hour before you go to sleep. Too much electronic use close to bedtime can disrupt your sleep cycle and make it more difficult to sleep.

The blue light from an electronic device tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime, so your brain halts its sleep onset activity. Games and other stimulating activities can also prevent your mind from relaxing, so your thoughts are still racing when you settle down to sleep.

Avoid daytime naps

Daytime naps can interfere with your sleep schedule if you don’t time them right. Skipping a nap can ensure you are more tired at night and likely to get a good night’s sleep.

If you’re interested in the potential benefits of napping, check out our guide on the best nap length. Knowing when and how long to best nap will keep you from losing sleep at night.

Have a quiet and comfortable bedroom

Make sure your bedroom is clean and free of distractions and noise. Turn off electronics and all the lights. Close the blinds so that the light does not come in. Make sure your room is free of distractions so that you are not disturbed in the night.

Your bed should be comfortable, and your blankets and pillows should feel cozy:

  • The best mattresses match your sleeping style, supporting your spine and relieving pressure points. If you tend to wake sore, stiff, or tiredl it might be time for a new mattress.
  • Check that your bedding is breathable yet insulating. You don’t want to wake up in the night, chilled or too hot from the wrong bedding. Use lightweight bedding during the warmer months and heavier items like comforters when it cools down. Studies suggest you should wash your bedding at least once a week.
  • The best pillows support your neck and head, eliminating any gaps that might cause muscle strain. If you wake up with headaches or a stiff neck, you might want to try a different pillow.

A better night’s sleep will make you less likely to sleep talk. The more relaxed you are, the less likely you will be to talk in your sleep.

2. Manage Stress and Anxiety

If you are very stressed, anxious, and always worried, you are more susceptible to sleep talking. Try to avoid stressful situations during the day, however that may be.

You can make lists to get more done and prioritize tasks, or you can cut back on how many tasks you take on during the day. Limit yourself to how much you can handle so that you do not get too stressed or anxious. Staying calm and relaxed will help you be less likely to talk in your sleep and eliminate sleep talking at night.

If needed, you might want to consider talk therapy or similar treatments. Speaking with a behavioral specialist can help you overcome any long-term emotional issues that keep you from sleeping well.

3. Check Medication Use

If you are taking any medications, whether they are prescription or over the counter, they may be causing you sleep problems. Check the bottle or packaging to see if the medication could be keeping you awake, or ask your doctor about your medication and any alternatives you could use that will not disturb your sleep.

4. Check Your Health

One cause of sleep talking is illness and fever. If you have a fever, you may be uncomfortable and not be getting a proper night’s rest. Ensure that you are taking all of the proper precautions to keep your health under control by washing your hands, taking vitamins, checking your temperature, and staying clear of ill people.

5. Track Your Sleep Talking

There are ways that you can track your sleep talking and the severity of it. Here is a list of things you can do to track it.

Undergo a Sleep Study

If your sleep talking is hindering yours or a partner’s sleep quality, we suggest visiting a sleep specialist. A specialist can determine what is going on and look for other underlying conditions or disorders, such as sleep apnea. Sleep specialists can also help you make sure your body is getting the proper rest that it needs.

During a sleep study, a researcher hooks you up to a machine to detect unusual sleep patterns and pinpoint what triggers somniloquy episodes. The wires and machines help specialists analyze how you sleep, any unusual sleep patterns, and what might trigger you to talk in your sleep.

Record Yourself

You can record yourself at home when you go to sleep to see:

  • How bad your sleep talking is
  • How often you talk in your sleep
  • What you talk about (often it’s gibberish, but you might find meaning in what you say)

You may find a pattern that could be causing it. A simple way to reduce sleep talking is to manage daytime stress and try to carve out time to relax before bed.

Keep Track of Sleep Patterns

Another great way to figure out the causes of your sleep talking is to keep a sleep diary for a couple of weeks and log everything to look back on to try to find a common denominator. Keep a sleep diary for two weeks, log the times you go to bed, and write up the medications you take, drink each day, and what it is (especially caffeine.)

It could be as simple as making some simple lifestyle changes such as lowering caffeine intake, any medications you are taking, or exercising more to help get you a good night’s sleep to prevent you from sleep talking. These will help you find your routine and what could be hindering your sleep.

Do You Share a Bed with a Sleep Talker?

If your partner disturbs your rest with frequent sleep talking, there are steps you can take for a good night’s rest.

You might first want to try investing in a good pair of earplugs or noise-canceling headphones. Sleep talk episodes are often brief and last only a few seconds, unlike a night of on-and-off snoring. With preparation, you should sleep through the night.

If your partner has a severe case of sleep talking, you might consider the benefits of sleeping in separate rooms. Research shows that sleeping apart doesn’t necessarily translate into an unhappy relationship. On the contrary, “encouraging patients to discuss difficulties with co-sleeping arrangements with their partner may lead to better sleep and a happier relationship.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Is sleep talking dangerous?

Sleep talking is not necessarily dangerous, but if you have a bed partner, it may disturb their sleep and prevent them from getting sound sleep. Frequent sleep disruptions can lead to daytime fatigue and even insomnia, especially if your sleep talking is loud and consistent every night. To prevent a negative impact on your partner, we suggest trying some of our tips.

How can you stop sleep talking?

There is no guarantee that you can stop completely, but there are ways to reduce sleep talk. Here is a list of daily tasks you can do to help you relax and be less likely to talk at night:

  • Have a steady and routine sleep schedule. You should go to bed and wake up at the same time every night and morning. This will help your body clock get used to a routine and know when it is supposed to relax and go to sleep to reset for the next day.
  • Avoid caffeine, especially in the evening. Once it gets later in the day try to take something more natural like tea instead of coffee or soda that will likely keep you awake.
  • Relax, de-stress, and put away electronics before bed.
  • Have a distraction-free sleep space. Put your phone on the other side of the room, turn off the television, and turn off all the lights so you can get a proper night’s rest.
  • Have proper sleep hygiene and a cozy sleep surface. Make sure you have a comfortable mattress and clean sheets, blankets, and pillows.

How do I know if I am sleep talking?

Your sleep partner or other people around you that can hear you will most likely tell you if you are talking in your sleep. You can also record yourself while you sleep if you do not have anyone around to tell you. However, it may take a few nights for you to record anything because sleep talking is not necessarily a nightly problem.

Is it bad to talk to someone who is sleep talking?

No, if you can tell what a sleep talker is saying, you can certainly respond to them. However, they may not hear you or remember your response when they wake up since they are not consciously aware of their surroundings. You might want to record any conversations you have as proof that they’re sleep talking.

How do I record my sleep talking?

If you want to record yourself while you sleep, we recommend using the Voice Memos app on your mobile phone or downloading a sleep talk recorder app from the app store. You may have to try recording for several nights before you document evidence of sleep talk. If your chatter usually disturbs a partner, you may also ask them to record you while you sleep.

Conclusion

Sleep talking is often quite harmless. There are no guarantees to completely stop sleep talking altogether, but there are many ways to reduce your sleep talking. Get on a regular sleep schedule, record yourself, or even get tested or participate in a sleep study to find out how often you are talking in your sleep and what remedies work best for you.

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