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Talking in Your Sleep

What causes sleep talking? continued...

Sleep talking usually occurs by itself and is most often harmless. However, in some cases, it might be a sign of a more serious sleep disorder or health condition.

REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) and sleep terrors are two types of sleep disorders that cause some people to shout during sleep. Sleep terrors, also called night terrors, usually involve frightening screams, thrashing, and kicking. It's hard to wake someone having a sleep terror. Children with sleep terrors usually sleep talk and sleepwalk.

People with RBD yell, shout, grunt, and act out their dreams, often violently.

Sleep talking can also occur with sleepwalking and nocturnal sleep-related eating disorder (NS-RED), a condition in which a person eats while asleep.

Other things that can cause sleep talking include:

  • Certain medications
  • Emotional stress
  • Fever
  • Mental health disorder
  • Substance abuse

How is talking in your sleep treated?

It is a good idea to see a sleep specialist if your sleep talking occurs suddenly as an adult or if it involves intense fear, screaming, or violent actions. You might also consider seeing a doctor if unconscious chatter is interfering with your sleep -- or that of your roommates.

If you think your child has sleep problems, make an appointment with your pediatrician.

A sleep specialist will ask you how long you've been talking in your sleep. You'll have to ask your bed partner, roommate -- even your parents -- this question. Keep in mind, you may have started sleep talking in childhood.

There are no tests needed to diagnose sleep talking. However, your doctor may order tests, such as a sleep study or sleep recording (polysomnogram), if you have signs of another sleep disorder.

Sleep talking rarely requires treatment. However, severe sleep talking may be the result of another more serious sleep disorder or medical condition, which can be treated. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options.

 

How can someone reduce his or her amount of sleep talking?

There is no known way to reduce sleep talking. Avoiding stress and getting plenty of sleep might make you less likely to talk in your sleep.

Keeping a sleep diary can help identify your sleep patterns and may help your doctor find out if an underlying problem is causing your sleep talking. Keep a sleep diary for two weeks. Note the times you go to bed, when you think you fell asleep, and when you woke up. You'll also want to write down the following:

  • the medicines you take, and the time of day you take them
  • what you drink each day and when, especially caffeinated drinks such as cola, tea, and coffee, as well as alcohol
  • when you exercise
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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on August 01, 2014
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