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Talking in Your Sleep

Have you been told that you whisper sweet nothings in your sleep -- unaware that you ever spoke a word? Or, maybe your child shouts out streams of babble late at night -- only to fall right back to sleep. Have you been hoping your sleep-talking spouse will spill a long-time secret? Go ahead. Pose a question while he or she is sleeping, and don't be surprised if you get a single-syllable answer! But be warned: A sleep talker usually doesn't remember anything that's said during sleep.

Talking in your sleep can be a funny thing. Perhaps you chitchat unconsciously with unseen associates at the midnight hour. Or maybe a family member unknowingly carries on nightly conversations. Here are answers to your questions about talking in your sleep -- what you need to know about sleep talking, from causes to treatments.

What is sleep talking?

Sleep talking, or somniloquy, is the act of speaking during sleep. It's a type of parasomnia -- an abnormal behavior that takes place during sleep. It's a very common occurrence and is not usually considered a medical problem.

The nighttime chatter may be harmless, or it could be graphic, even R rated. Sometimes, listeners find the content offensive or vulgar. Sleep talkers normally speak for no more than 30 seconds per episode, but some people sleep talk many times during a night.

The late-night diatribes may be exceptionally eloquent, or the words may be mumbled and hard to decipher. Sleep talking may involve simple sounds or long, involved speeches. Sleep talkers usually seem to be talking to themselves. But sometimes, they appear to carry on conversations with others. They may whisper, or they might shout. If you share a bedroom with someone who talks in his or her sleep, you might not be getting enough shut-eye.

Who talks in their sleep?

Many people talk in their sleep. Half of all kids between the ages of 3 and 10 years old carry on conversations while asleep, and a small number of adults -- about 5% -- keep chit-chatting after they go to bed. The utterances can take place occasionally or every night. A 2004 poll showed that more than 1 in 10 young children converse in their sleep more than a few nights a week.

Girls talk in their sleep as much as boys. And experts think that sleep talking may run in families.

What are the symptoms of talking in your sleep?

It's hard to tell if you've been talking in your own sleep. Usually, people will tell you they've heard you shout out during the night or while you were napping. Or maybe someone might complain that your sleep talking is keeping him or her up all night.

What causes sleep talking?

You might think that sleep talking occurs during dreaming. But scientists still are not sure if such chatter is linked to nighttime reveries. The talking can occur in any stage of sleep.

WebMD Medical Reference

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