Everyone experiences sleep differently. Some people struggle to fall asleep, others have restless sleep, some are lucky to experience sound sleep, and some speak in their sleep. Sleep talking isn’t uncommon. You probably know a sleep talker or you have been one at some point. If you or someone you know tends to talk when asleep and want to know how to overcome it, this post has got you covered. Read on to learn more about talking in the sleep and what you can do about it.

What is Sleep Talking?

Formally known as somniloquy, sleep talking is a sleep disorder characterized by talking during sleep while being unaware of everything. It is a form of parasomnia, which is a term for sleep disorders that involve unusual behaviors during sleep.

People who talk in their sleep tend to have monologues and dialogues. Sometimes they mumble or speak gibberish that other people don’t quite understand. Talking in your sleep can occur in both REM and non-REM sleep. On the flip side, other parasomnias occur only in REM or non-REM sleep i.e. they are specific to one part of the sleep cycle.

Evidence shows that the prevalence of talking in sleep is around 66.8%, but around 17.7% report experiencing this type of parasomnia in the last three months.

People talk in sleep for many reasons. Is sleep talking a sign of mental illness? The causes of somniloquy are discussed further in this post.

Stage and severity

In order to learn how to stop sleep talking, it’s important to understand the stages and severity of this parasomnia. There are four stages of talking in the sleep:

  • Stages 1 and 2: a person isn’t in deep sleep and may have entire conversations that make sense and are easy to understand.
  • Stages 3 and 4: a person is in deep sleep and may mumble or talk gibberish. It’s more difficult to understand a person talking in these stages.

The severity of talking in your sleep may range from mild to severe:

  • Mild: having less than one episode per week.
  • Moderate: talking in the sleep more than once per week, potentially disturbing the partner’s quality of sleep.
  • Severe: experiencing the episodes almost on a nightly basis, sometimes several times per night, further disturbing the significant other’s sleep.


Who Talks In Their Sleep?

The best way to understand why do people talk in their sleep is to consider who experiences this parasomnia. Everyone can talk in their sleep, but some people are more commonly affected than others. These include:

  • Children: sleep talking is one of the most common parasomnias in children. According to some estimates, around 50% of children talk in their sleep. Somniloquy peaks between the ages of two and 12. Some children outgrow it, but others may talk in their sleep in adolescence too.
  • People with Parkinson’s disease: sometimes people develop sleep talking and other parasomnias before other symptoms of Parkinson’s disease occur. Patients with this disease may talk, yell out, or physically act out while asleep.
  • People with mental illness: men and women with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other psychiatric conditions are more prone to talking in the sleep.
  • People with a family history of somniloquy: parasomnias such as talking in the sleep are associated with genetics. If parents experience this sleep disorder, their children could be at risk too.

What Causes Sleep Talking?

At this point, scientists aren’t quite sure of the answer to the question “Why do people talk in their sleep?” Several causes could be involved and may vary from one person to another. The biggest causes of talking in the sleep are:

  • Alcohol or drug use: heavy alcohol consumption or drug abuse can disrupt sleep patterns and make a person talk in their sleep.
  • Fatigue or exhaustion: being overly tired can trigger talking in sleep, particularly when the body is trying to recover as a person falls asleep.
  • Depression: emotional distress can disturb sleep patterns and thereby contribute to talking in the sleep. Besides depression, psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia can also contribute to talking in the sleep. For that reason, the answer to the question “Is sleep talking a sign of mental illness?” would be affirmative. However, not everyone with mental illness will talk in their sleep.
  • Insomnia: this may disrupt sleep patterns and cause sleep deprivation thus resulting in somniloquy. Insomnia may cause exhaustion and alter sleep cycles or contribute to heightened brain activity which could lead to talking in your sleep.
  • Anxiety or stress: stress and symptoms of anxiety may trigger talking in the sleep because they stimulate your brain and disrupt sleep patterns. Certain anxiety disorders, such as PTSD, could make people feel they need to be on guard thereby preventing them from getting a restful sleep.
  • Feverish sleep: a high fever may disrupt the sleep cycle. This could lead to talking or unusual dreams.
  • Sleep deprivation: this may disrupt sleep cycles and force the body to compensate for lost sleep, which amplifies brain activity during rest and triggers speech. Sleep deprivation results from various causes including night eating syndrome.

How is Talking In Your Sleep Treated?

In most cases sleep talking goes away on its own. No specific treatment is necessary for most people. However, people with persistent somniloquy may need to see a doctor.

The healthcare provider recommends the most suitable approach on how to stop sleep talking based on the underlying causes. Some of these approaches may include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): helps people utilize relaxation skills to reduce anxiety and stress, which are major contributing factors in this parasomnia. CBT helps overcome irrational thinking which affects mental health.

  • Medications: there’s no medication for this parasomnia, but people with insomnia may receive medications to sleep better. If you do not like prescription medications, you can opt for natural alternatives such as Somulin Best Sleep Aid Supplement.

  • Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP): a breathing device for people with sleep apnea, which is also associated with parasomnia including night terrors and talking in the sleep. This device could improve the quality of sleep and support proper sleep cycles thus aiding the management of talking while asleep.

  • See a sleep expert: If you’re wondering, “Is sleep talking is a sign of mental illness?”, a sleep specialist may be able to provide the answer while also educating you on how to get enough rest or what to do to talk less.

How Can Someone Reduce Their Amount of Sleep Talking?

There is no foolproof strategy on how to stop sleep talking instantly. However, there’s a lot you can do to improve sleep quality. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Work on sleep hygiene by getting seven to nine hours of sleep

  • Go to bed every night at the same time

  • Wake up every morning at the same time

  • Avoid or limit alcohol consumption

  • Avoid caffeine and other stimulants starting from late afternoon to evening

  • Exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet

  • Don’t use the phone and other devices in bed

  • Make sure your bedroom is tidy and calming

  • Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing in times of high stress and anxiety

  • Manage underlying conditions such as depression


Can sleep talking reveal secrets?

Yes, talking in your sleep can reveal secrets or personal information. Sleep talkers may reveal something they don’t want to say, but this is an exception rather than a rule. Talking in the sleep often reflects subconscious thoughts or random speech. Since context and coherence are lacking, it can be difficult to decipher meaningful secrets.

Is sleep talking serious?

Sleep talking is often harmless and occurs by itself. However, in some cases, it could be a sign of a more serious sleep disorder or a health condition. If talking while asleep becomes persistent, you may want to see a doctor.

The doctor can provide advice on how to stop sleep talking or diagnose an underlying cause such as depression. Remember that in most cases talking in the sleep isn’t dangerous.

Should you wake up a sleep talker?

Generally speaking, it’s not necessary to wake up a sleep talker unless they are experiencing distress. If you’re asking “Why do people talk in their sleep?” there are many possible reasons; however, most often they’re unaware and not disturbed by it. That being said, if someone’s safety is a concern or they experience distress and it keeps happening, waking them up is okay. That way you can make sure they’re alright.


Sleep talking is a common occurrence. Children often talk in their sleep, but teens and adults may do as well. While sleep talking is harmless and the individual isn’t aware they are doing it, the problem can take a toll on the sleep quality of other people.

This post addressed the question “Why do people talk in their sleep?” and showed how to manage this problem. The focus should be on sleep hygiene and managing the underlying causes of talking in the sleep. If problems persist, make sure to see a doctor.


1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9658338/
2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21093361/
3] https://www.baptisthealth.com/care-services/conditions-treatments/sleep-talking
4] https://sleepeducation.org/sleep-disorders/sleep-talking/
5] https://www.parkinson.org/understanding-parkinsons/non-movement-symptoms/sleep-disorders
6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3153991/
7] https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand/related/sleep_problems.asp

Dr. Ahmed Zayad

Dr. Ahmed Zayad

Dr. Zayed, has years of experience in the field and has been contributing to public health awareness. Dr. Ahmed Zayed holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. Egypt. Dr. Zayed believes in providing knowledgeable information to readers. His articles were featured on many websites like HuffingtonPost, Chicagotribune . Other than his passion for writing, Dr. Zayed spends his time outside the hospital, either reading or at the gym.

Written by Dr. Ahmed Zayad

More stories

What Causes Restless Sleep and How to Deal with it

When was the last time you had a restful sleep? When you have a troubled sleep, you’ll probably struggle to go about your routine during the next d...

All You Need to Know about Baker’s Cyst

Knee pain is often accompanied by inflammation, especially if the cause is arthritis or an injury. However, it can also lead to more severe problem...