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Sleep Talking

Sleep talking (somniloquy pronounced som-nil-o-qee) refers to any utterance made during sleep, from one word to entire sentences. It can be brought on by stress or some illness. It occurs in young children primarily, and happens in the early part of the night (the first few hours of sleep). It does not occur as part of a dream; dreaming happens in a stage of sleep called REM (rapid eye movement), which has its largest representation in the later hours of sleep (the last third of the night, not long before waking up for the morning).

Most children with benign sleep-talking say single words or combinations of words that may be hard to understand. Unlike what we see in the movies or on TV, the utterances that they make are not deep, dark secrets or concealed fears. They usually mean nothing. Children are not awake when they are talking, and in the morning, they do not remember anything about the episode at all. Most children out grow sleep talking as they get older, usually by age twelve.

Long, detailed, meaningful sleep-talking is less common, and does suggest that there might be some psychological disorder, and may need to be evaluated further. Also, sleep-talking that continues into adolescence and adulthood may reflect some psychological disturbances.

Symptoms of Sleep Talking

  • Speaking or muttering during sleep
  • Sleeper is not aware he or she is talking
  • Sometimes shouting, singing or moaning
  • May be associated with other sleep disorders
  • May be associated with physical or mental illness

Treatment of Sleep Talking

  • Avoid or eliminate stress.
  • Try relaxation techniques or meditation.