Sleep talking (somniloquy) occurs when an individual talks during their sleep and can occur during any sleep stage. The degree of talking can vary from mumbling to uttering clear words or sentences: the sleep talker is rarely aware that he or she is talking.28 The condition is very prevalent: 17 percent of people report sleep talking in the last 3 months, and 66 percent report ever having talked in their sleep.29 The condition is more common in children and males.30
Sleep talking may have a genetic component.31 It also may be associated with parasomnias (e.g., REM sleep behavior disorder, sleepwalking, and sleep-related eating disorder).32 There is little clinical or psychological significance to isolated sleep talking.33
Because sleep talking does not generally disrupt sleep or cause other problems, there often is no need to treat it.34 Sleep talking can occur in the presence of other sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea, or may be a marker still other sleep disorders, such as REM behavior disorder, and so should be brought to the attention of the primary care or sleep provider.
28 National Sleep Foundation, Sleep Disorders Problems: Sleep Talking, Arlington, VA: NSF, no date. Online at: http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-disorders-problems/sleep-talking.
29 American Academy of Sleep Medicine. International Classification of Sleep Disorders, 3rd edition: Diagnostic and Coding Manual. Darien, I: American Academy of Sleep Medicine; 2014.
30 National Sleep Foundation, Sleep Disorders Problems: Sleep Talking, Arlington, VA: NSF, no date. Online at: http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-disorders-problems/sleep-talking.
31 Mahowald MW, “Other Parasomnias,” In Kryger M, Roth T, Dement W (ed.), Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine (5th Edition), St. Louis: Elsevier Saunders, pp. 1098-1105.
32 Thorpy MJ, “Classifications of Sleep Disorders,” In Kryger M, Roth T, Dement W (ed.), Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine (5th Edition), St. Louis: Elsevier Saunders, page 687.
33 Mahowald MW. Arousal and sleep-wake transition parasomnias. In: Lee-Chiong TL, Sateia MJ, Carskadon MA, eds. Sleep Medicine. Philadelphia. Pa: Hanley and Belfus; 2002:207-214.
34 Leo, G., Parasomnias, Wisconsin Medical Journal, Vol. 102, No. 1:32-35, 2003.