Sleep Talking Explained - Understanding This Natural Sleep Disorder

Written by Nectarsleep Editorial Team

Last updated on Sep 08, 2023

Better Sleep Blog
Sleep Talking Explained - Understanding This Natural Sleep Disorder

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Sleep Talking Explained - Has anyone told you that you've been talking in your sleep? If you or someone you know has been talking during sleep, you’ve probably been tempted to ask them a question or two. They may have even answered. However, these people may not remember what they said nor can you count their comments as being truthful. This can cause confusion and awkwardness. It has also led a lot of people to ask, “why do you talk in your sleep?”.

Somniloquy (sleep talking) is a type of sleep disorder that manifests itself as talking in your sleep. It falls under the parasomnia category which is an abnormal behavior that occurs during sleep. Although sleep talking may be alarming to some people, it is not considered a medical issue.

Sleep talkers may sound like they are talking in gibberish. However, there are times when they can sound quite lucid and appear to be carrying on a conversation while they dream. They may whisper or even shout at times.

Why Do You Talk in Your Sleep?

People who talk in their sleep often wonder what they said. Was it something incriminating, embarrassing, or some dark secret? Don’t worry. Chances are, you haven’t revealed anything worth taking note of as sleep talking runs only for a few seconds.

Sleep talking occurs during REM sleep (rapid eye movement) or NREM sleep stages

During the REM stage, speech production breaks through the dreaming stage. It is at this point where the vocal cords become activated, and any conversation that is taking place in your dream is said aloud. Sleep talking can also happen during the transition period between the different types of sleep. In this case, your wakefulness and sleeping merge together causing you to speak aloud. Typically, this lasts for only a few seconds and sounds like gibberish.

The National Sleep Foundation states that science, as well as the law, do not consider sleep speech to be a byproduct of a person’s conscious or even rational mind. This means sleep talking cannot be used as evidence in court. So, under no time should a sleep talker’s words be taken literally.

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Leading Causes of Sleep Talking

You’re probably wondered, “why do you talk in your sleep?” especially when it awakens your sleep partner.

The National Sleep Foundation asserts that the following factors can influence sleep talking:

  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Fever
  • Alcohol


There are instances where sleep talking is inherent in a family. Other times it can be exacerbated by the circumstances mentioned above. For example, if you are sleep deprived, your mind often transitions to wakefulness to sleeping in just a few seconds, and that can cause you to speak aloud suddenly. It is also possible for sleep talking to happen alongside other disorders such as sleep apnea, nightmares, confusional arousal, as well as a REM sleep behavior disorder. In rare instances, they may be experiencing nocturnal seizures or perhaps a psychiatric disorder while sleeping.

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What It Means When You Talk in Your Sleep

What does it mean when you talk in your sleep? It is understandable that you will find sleep talking a bit worrisome. Find the cause can be difficult. Talking in your sleep is a type of sleep behavior disorder which can be triggered by genetics or external factors. Many times it occurs alongside parasomnias like night terrors sleep problems, or sleepwalking. An underlying problem such as anxiety, depression, or stress may contribute to this condition. Although this habit is not really harmful, when it disrupts you and your partner’s sleep, you might want to seek treatment.

Adults who sleep talk, or have partners who speak suddenly at night, may seek a remedy to remain fast asleep. On the other hand, if your sleep speech happens frequently, it would be a good idea to consult a sleep specialist to help you determine if there may be an underlying condition. Understanding what it means when you talk in your sleep may help you become aware of your habits and whether you need to change them.

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Symptoms of Sleep Talking

“What does it mean when you talk in your sleep?” When researching this question, you’ll most likely come across the different symptoms of this condition. If you live alone, the problem with this disorder is that it can occur during non-rem sleep or rem sleep which means that you are cycling through the sleep stages. Unless you have someone with you, it is hard to determine whether you are talking in your sleep or not.

For those who sleep alone, you might want to invest in a sleep talk recorder. A talk recorder records any speech. On the other hand, your partner may tell you that you are talking in your sleep. Aside from sleep talking, other symptoms that may include sleep terrors, sleepwalking, and even REM behavior disorders.


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How to Combat Sleep Talking

Now that you have an idea about what it means when you talk in your sleep, the next step would be to reduce its frequency. Falling asleep at night is certainly a welcome relief after a long and tiring day, but when sleep talking takes a toll on your sleep, you may want to look for tips to get a good night’s sleep.

For the partner

First things first, the quality of the mattress should be considered. For those who sleep light, investing in a mattress that has a motion isolation property, such as in the case of memory foam or even latex, can have a huge impact. This type of mattress can reduce any movements that your partner is making. You can also purchase devices that will help drown out the sound such as a white noise machine.


For sleep talkers

Since stress is one of the triggers of sleep talking, it would be a good idea to incorporate stress-relieving activities into your routine. This can be something as simple as meditating or perhaps doing light yoga to help you feel calm and relaxed before bedtime. Reducing the intake of alcohol as this is also linked to sleep talking. Experts recommend that you practice good sleep hygiene.

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