Home / Blog January 19, 2024

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What Causes Sleep Talking? (7 Common Reasons)

In this blog, we discuss the causes of sleep talking, also known as somniloquy. We also share some tips and tricks that you can use to cope with this sleep behavior.

What Causes Sleep Talking


Sleep talking is a common sleep habit that can affect people of all ages.

Stress, genetics, and other sleep disorders can contribute to experiencing sleep talking.

Seek medical advice if sleep talking is frequent, disruptive, or poses safety concerns. 

Did you know?
Polyglot sleep talking occurs when someone speaks a language they are not fluent in while asleep.

Ever wondered what causes sleep talking? From stress to medications, there are many reasons why you or your loved one may experience this common sleep disorder. In the next few sections, we delve into the causes and coping mechanisms for sleep talking.

Let’s start by understanding what exactly it is!

What Is Sleep Talking (Somniloquy)?

Somniloquy is a term used to describe talking while you’re asleep. It is a type of parasomnia, which refers to abnormal behaviors that occur during sleep. Somniloquy can range from simple incoherent mumbling to pronounced and complex speech. In some cases, people engage in conversations, express emotions, or even carry out complex actions while asleep!

How Common Is Sleep Talking?

Sleep talking is more prevalent in certain populations, and frequency can vary. Here are some general observations:

Children: Sleep talking is relatively common in children. It’s estimated that about 50% of children between the ages of 3 and 10 may experience sleep talking at some point.

Adults: While sleep talking tends to decrease with age, it still occurs in adults as approximately 5% of adults talk in their sleep.

Gender Differences: Sleep talking appears to be more common in men than women, though this can vary.

At What Stage Of Sleep Does Sleep Talking Occur?

Sleep talking can occur during any stage of sleep, although it is most commonly associated with the lighter stages of non-REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. During these stages, the body is still and relaxed, but the brain may be active, leading to the possibility of vocalizations. Dreams and sleep talking are often more common during REM sleep, but somniloquy is not limited to this stage.

Now that you know some basic facts about sleep-talking, let’s look at some of the symptoms of this sleep habit.

What Are The Symptoms Of Sleep Talking?

What Are The Symptoms Of Sleep Talking?

Here are some common symptoms associated with sleep talking:

1. Vocalizations: The most obvious symptom is audible speech or vocalizations during sleep. This can range from simple sounds, mumbles, or whispers to coherent sentences.

2. Unawareness: In many cases, the person who is sleep talking is unaware of their behavior, and it’s only brought to their attention by someone else who hears them talking during the night.

3. Variability: The frequency of sleep talking can vary widely from occasional episodes to more frequent occurrences. Some people experience sleep talking only once in a while, while others talk in their sleep on a regular basis.

4. Emotional Expression: Sleep talking can involve a range of emotional expressions, including laughter, crying, or expressions of fear. The content of the speech can reflect the person’s emotional state.

Next, let us look at the potential culprits behind this sleep behavior.

What Causes Sleep Talking?

While the exact causes of somniloquy are not always clear, it’s typically associated with factors like:

1. Genetics: There may be a genetic component to sleep talking. If other family members have a history of somniloquy, it could increase the likelihood of an individual experiencing it.

2. Stress and Anxiety: Emotional stress and anxiety can contribute to sleep talking. It's often thought that the stress and emotions experienced during the day may carry over into sleep, influencing dream content and sleep talking. So if you’re wondering, “Is sleep talking a sign of stress?”, the answer is likely yes!

3. Fever and Illness: Sleep talking can be more common during times of illness, especially when accompanied by a fever. Disruptions to normal sleep patterns when you are ill can contribute to somniloquy.

4. Sleep Deprivation: Insufficient or irregular sleep patterns can increase the likelihood of sleep talking. Sleep deprivation can affect the brain's normal functioning during sleep, leading to increased activity and the potential for vocalizations.

5. Alcohol and Substance Use: The use of alcohol and certain substances can influence sleep patterns and contribute to sleep talking. These substances can alter the balance of neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) in the brain, affecting sleep behavior.

6. Sleep Disorders: Some sleep disorders, like sleepwalking, night terrors, and REM sleep behavior disorder, can be associated with sleep talking. These disorders involve abnormal behaviors during sleep and may co-occur with somniloquy.

7. Medications: Certain medications, such as sedatives and some antidepressants, can affect sleep patterns and contribute to sleep talking as a side effect.

It's worth noting that sleep talking is often considered a normal variation in sleep behavior for many people and doesn't necessarily indicate a serious underlying issue. However, there are some changes you can make to reduce the likelihood of experiencing sleep talking. Let’s look at this in the next section!

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How Do You Cure Sleep Talking?

While there is no specific “cure” for sleep talking, for many people, it is a normal and harmless sleep behavior. However, here are some strategies and lifestyle changes to help manage it:

1. Improve Sleep Hygiene: Maintain a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. Create a relaxing bedtime routine to signal to your body that it's time to wind down. Some people find taking a warm shower before bed helpful.

2. Reduce Stress and Anxiety: Practice stress-reduction techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or progressive muscle relaxation. Consider using calming sleep aids like weighted blankets, which have been shown to reduce the production of cortisol (the stress hormone). Our Cotton Napper, for instance, is a knitted weighted blanket that evenly distributes deep touch pressure that, in turn, helps you fall asleep faster and feel calmer, naturally.

3. Limit Stimulants: Reduce the intake of stimulants like caffeine and nicotine, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime.

4. Avoid Alcohol and Certain Medications: Limit alcohol intake, as it can disrupt sleep patterns and contribute to sleep talking. Review medications with your healthcare provider, as some medications may contribute to sleep talking.

5. Manage Sleep Disorders: If sleep talking is associated with other sleep disorders (e.g., sleepwalking, night terrors), treating the underlying condition may help alleviate symptoms.

While the tips shared above can be helpful, there are no set sleep talking treatments. However, many people have tried different tricks, including waking up the person who is sleep talking. In the next section, we look at how you can go about this strategy.

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What Happens When You Wake Up A Sleep Talker?

Waking up a sleep talker is generally safe, and most people will simply wake up briefly, become alert, and then fall back asleep. However, it's essential to approach this with sensitivity, as waking someone abruptly from sleep may cause confusion or disorientation, and they might not fully comprehend their surroundings. Here are some considerations when waking up a sleep talker:

1. Consider A Gentle Approach: If you feel the need to wake a sleep talker, do so gently. Avoid sudden movements or loud noises that might startle them.

2. Provide Reassurance: Once awake, reassure the person calmly and let them know they were talking in their sleep. It’s common for individuals to have little to no recollection of their sleep-talking episodes.

3. Be Kind: Sleep talking is a normal and often involuntary behavior. It’s not something the individual can control, so it’s important not to judge or make them feel embarrassed about it.

In most cases, there is no need to wake up a sleep talker unless their behavior is causing significant disruption or concern. Sleep talkers are usually not aware of their actions, and the episodes typically don’t pose any harm. However, sharing a bed with someone who is sleep talking may impact your quality of sleep as well. Let us talk about how you can cope with this!

Tips For Bed Partners Of Sleep Talkers

Here are some practical coping mechanisms if you’re a bed partner of a sleep talker:

1. Use Earplugs or White Noise: Consider using earplugs or a white noise machine to help drown out the sound of the sleep talking. This can create a more peaceful sleep environment for you.

2. Create Physical Separation: If the sleep talking is particularly loud or disruptive, consider creating some physical separation in the sleeping arrangements. This could involve using separate blankets, pillows, or even sleeping in separate beds if necessary, and possible.

3. Address Stress and Anxiety: If the sleep talker is experiencing stress or anxiety, it may be helpful to address these issues during waking hours through relaxation techniques, counseling, or stress management strategies. A sensory pillow such as our Hugget knot pillow is perfect for a comforting cuddle when you’re on the couch or just laying down. The Hugget ensures a stress-relieving squeeze is always in reach.

4. Discuss the Issue Openly: Have an open and honest conversation with the sleep talker about the impact their sleep talking has your own sleep. They may not be aware of the extent of the disruption, and finding solutions together can be beneficial.

5. Seek Professional Advice: If the sleep talking is persistent and causing significant disruption, consider seeking advice from a healthcare professional or a sleep specialist for medically sound insights and recommendations for managing the behavior.

There are some signs you need to be on the lookout for to ensure that the sleep talking is not posing any safety concerns.

When To See A Doctor

It is advisable to see a doctor or a sleep specialist if you experience:

1. Persistent and disruptive sleep talking: This could be a sign of an underlying sleep disorder.

2. Associated Symptoms: These include other sleep-related behaviors, such as sleepwalking, night terrors, or abnormal movements during sleep.

3. Impact on Daily Functioning: If you experience excessive daytime sleepiness, consult with a healthcare professional.

4. Safety Concerns: This could be anything ranging from aggressive movements or actions that could harm you or your bed partner.

5. Worsening Symptoms: Track the frequency and intensity of your sleep talking to notice any significant changes in your overall sleep patterns.

6. Concerns about Underlying Issues: This is especially true if you have ongoing stress and anxiety or other psychological factors contributing to sleep talking.

During a medical evaluation for sleep talking, the healthcare provider may conduct a thorough history, ask about sleep patterns, and inquire about any associated symptoms. In some cases, a sleep study (polysomnography) may be recommended to monitor and analyze your sleep patterns.


Sleep talking, also known as somniloquy, is a common and generally harmless sleep behavior. It can be caused by various factors, including stress, genetics, medications, and sleep disorders. While considered common, if you or your loved one are experiencing frequent disruption from sleep talking, seek professional medical advice. Overall, fostering good sleep hygiene and open communication leads to better sleep quality for both sleep talkers and their bed partners.