While sleep talking is one of the least harmful sleep disorders—as it is rarely ever a cause for health concerns, it is up there as potentially one of the most embarrassing.
Whether it is just constituting nuisance in a group sleeping setting, or waking up your partner with a blurt of the name of an ex-girlfriend, the humiliating potential of sleep talking sessions are endless. Plus, since it is often an entirely unconscious occurrence, you can be wholly unaware of it until another person brings it to your attention.
So, if you are a persistent sleep talker, what are your options? Can you stop talking in your sleep? How?
What is Sleep Talking
Sleep talking (formally known as somniloquy) is a low-risk sleep disorder that triggers episodes talking while sleeping.
For people with this condition, their nighttime chatter can range anywhere from a few nonsensical grunts, whispers, groans, or laughs, to having a full-on eloquent conversation with a phantom person.
Sleep talking is most common among young children aged 3-10 and is typically chalked up to the changes in the brain during early development. Also, most people lose their condition as they get older. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, sleep talking only affects around 5% of adults.
In most instances, sleep talking is entirely harmless, and the most significant cause for concern is the disservice it does to your sleeping partners.
How to Stop Sleep Talking
Sleep talking is often a short-lived condition that typically resolves itself after a while. However, if your partner continues to report persistent sleep talking sessions, it might be time for you to take some measures to curb the disorder.
Here are the top tips you should consider to help you stop sleep talking.
One of the biggest triggers for sleep talking is stress. Consequently, many sessions of talking while sleeping often features bits of nonsensical information about represses stressors and past tense events. Hence, it is no surprise that the most common word for sleep talkers is “no.”
While a little bit of stress now and again can be great for promoting mental health, too much stress over extended periods can lead to a host of complications, including sleep disorders like sleep apnea, night terrors, and sleep talking.
When we are stressed, our bodies can have issues shifting between sleep cycles, which is a common factor in many forms of sleep disturbances.
Working to reduce stress with measures such as applying better time management, participating in more physical activity, journaling, mindfulness, and incorporating relaxation techniques like deep breathing can help reduce the occurrence of sleep talking and promote better sleep.
2. Analyze Your Sleep Talking Sessions
While most episodes of sleep talk will be entirely gibberish, a few may contain the key to solving your problems. Since the condition is often triggered by stress, people with it can often blurt out pointers to things, people, and situations that are possible causes.
To properly analyze your sleep talking sessions, download and use a dedicated sleep talk recorder app each night. Then, listen in on the recordings and watch out for any recurring themes.
Furthermore, you can also keep a sleep diary that records activities and behavior that may affect your sleep time, including the major events of the day, the food you consumed, and the time you went to bed.
Who knows? You might find an uncanny correlation between a particular dish and the prevalence of sleep talking.
3. Regularize Your Sleep Schedule
A regular sleep schedule is one of the more easily overlooked, healthy sleeping tips. However, it can often also be one of the most impactful, ameliorate several different sleep disorders, including sleep talking.
Going to bed and waking up at random times that change often can mess with your circadian rhythms, making it harder for your body to enter deep sleep or transition smoothly between sleep cycles.
Consequently, an irregular sleep schedule can increase your risk of sleep deprivation, trigger sleep disorders like sleep talking, and lead to more severe complications like a weaker immune system or susceptibility to chronic illnesses.
Going to bed and waking up to a set schedule each day can significantly increase your chance of entering and staying in a deep sleep for longer, which can help reduce the occurrence of sleep talking.
4. Improve Your Sleep Hygiene
By getting better, more restful sleep, you significantly decrease your chance of talking in your sleep, and one of the most effective ways to achieve this is by implementing proper sleep hygiene.
Some tips to quickly improve your sleep schedule include:
- Ensure that you have good mattresses and pillows that provide superior support and comfort
- Establish and strictly adhere to a sleep schedule
- Remove all potential disturbances from your bedroom, including noise and bright lights
- Consider adding blackout curtains to your bedroom and using gadgets like earplugs, eyeshades, and humidifiers for enhanced comfort and a more immersive sleeping experience that helps facilitate deep sleep.
- Optimize your bedroom temperature for sleep by setting the thermostat to a cool 60-67°F
- Cut out blue light-emitting devices at least two hours before bedtime
- Creating a calming bedtime ritual that can include elements like a warm shower, some light reading, journaling, or meditating to help you wind down
5. Check Medication Use
Another potential trigger for sleep talking is your body’s reaction to certain prescription drugs. If you experience persistent episodes of sleep talking, consider checking all your current medication for side-effects that may include somniloquy, and seek out alternatives.
Furthermore, other stimulants, including alcohol, caffeine, cannabis, as well as illicit hard substances, can mess with your body clock, putting your sleep cycles in disarray, and potentially triggering sleep talking.
6. Consider Getting Medical Advice
Sleep talking is rarely ever a serious enough condition to warrant medical attention. However, you should consider consulting a health practitioner in the following extreme cases:
Your sleep talking disorder is so severe that it is significantly impacting your sleep quality and leaving you in a sleep-deprived state.
If your sleep talking sessions coincide with exhaustion and a reduced ability to concentrate on the following day
In such situations, a trip to the doctor could help diagnose if the sleep talking is a sign of a more profound underlying condition or a symptom of another sleep disorder like delayed sleep phase disorder or sleep apnea.
Furthermore, even if the doctor finds no cause for concern, you may get individual-specific pointers and tips on habits that may help reduce the chance of future episodes.
What if You are on the Receiving End?
For some, while you have no problems with sleep talking, you may have to deal with a partner who does. Here, your best option is to implement tactics that help reduce the amount of noise that gets to your end.
Some hacks you can try include:
- Using earplugs
- Streamlined headphones, built for sleep
- Drowning out the noise with a white noise machine
Furthermore, you can also be more proactive in helping your partner combat the disorder by assisting them in implementing a sleep schedule and better sleep hygiene or helping them fight stress.