Somniloquy (Sleep talking)

Sleep Talking
Sleep Talking

What is somniloquy?

Somniloquy is the medical term for sleep talking. This means that the person is talking aloud when asleep. This is a type of parasomnia wherein it involves unnatural or abnormal movements and emotions. According to statistics, 50% of children often experiences sleep talking whereas only 5% of adults encounter this. People who are sleep talking are not aware of what they are doing or saying. It is often harmless unless accompanied by other parasomnia such as sleep walking. When someone is sleep talking however, people accompanying that person may be wary of the circumstances because most of the time, what the person is uttering is difficult to understand.

Causes of Sleep Talking

Somniloquy causes may vary from person to person.  For adults, it is usually associated with:

  • sleeping  disorders such as insomnia, obstructive apnea syndrome
  • When the person is febrile or has fever
  • Anxiety disorders or other psychiatric disorder
  • When faced with stressful circumstances
  • And even sleep deprivation

Sleep Talking in Children

Sleep talking usually happens in children. There are a number of reasons associated with this such as separation anxiety and even nightmares. Nightmares are usually common in children. The after effect is also alarming as children tend to dwell to a bad dream for some time.

Along with sleep talking, there are also other things that children encounter. These are sleep or night terrors, and sleepwalking.  This parasomias can affect children at around 4 to 12 years of age.  The one that is feared most by many parents is when the child sleepwalks because it can bring the child to mishaps such as falling. This usually happens to children 6 to 12 years old. Sleepwalking is usually genetics.

Generally, when there are episodes of sleep talking or sleep walking, it does not cause any alarm. If these episodes become frequent however, it can greatly affect the behavior of the child especially in daytime. It is then appropriate to ask help from the psychiatrist so that proper intervention will be given to the child or the adolescent.

Sleep Talking in Adults

This condition does not really affect the adults but it is undeniable that sleep talking can happen sometimes.  In adults, the words uttered are usually connected with love, sex and other things and the etiology is usually unknown. But experts believe that it is linked to stress, as well as sleep- related epilepsy, nighttime sleep eating syndrome and when a person had a post traumatic stress disorder. Most adults do not have these problems but still undergo somniloquy. In cases like that, these people are faced with stressful situations, deprived with sleep, and even had alcoholic drinks taken in huge content.

There is no direct proof that sleep talking is dangerous. One disadvantage though is bearing the social embarrassment if the person in somniloquy lives in a public sleeping quarter such as dormitories. People with little to no knowledge of this condition will just turn the patient into laughing stuff among friends.

How to Stop or Avoid Sleep Talking

  • There is no exact solution to avoid or stop sleep talking but here are a few tips that can be useful to have a good night sleep without sleep talking:
  • Reduce stress level as much as possible. If it is not avoided, the person can de-stress by going  to a spa or massage parlor
  • Do not eat heavy food before bedtime
  • It is essential to follow a strict sleeping schedule
  • Get enough rest to avoid somniloquy
  • It is suggested to have a sleep diary and record the medicines taken, the caffeinated drinks taken such as coffee, soda, tea and alcohol; the exercise done for the day is also advisable to be listed in the diary.

Sleep Talking Treatment and Cure

  • If sleep talking episodes are frequent, it is advisable to see the doctor for somniloquy treatment.
  • For children, it is best to consult the pediatrician promptly so that they can assess the child’s sleeping pattern and how long have the child been sleep talking.
  • The treatment is different in adults. Sleep specialists will ask questions to the patient’s companion until the doctor was able to form hypothesis. Treatment will come after depending on the gravity or frequency of somniloquy.
  • Rarely do the doctor order for tests or taking blood samples but occasionally, the doctor may order those laboratory exams examined together with sleep recording test called polysommogram.
  • Sleep hygiene is strongly recommended by doctors and avoiding drugs and alcohol are also  suggested.
  • Therapy is sometimes given such as the cognitive behavioral therapy to battle off stress or anxiety.
  • Medications are given to promote sleep such as sleeping pills or antidepressants. These should however have the doctor’s prescription.



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