HEALTHY LIVING
01/26/2012 03:22 pm ET

Your Sleep Questions Answered: Sleep Talking

Sleep talking affects at least half of all children from 3 to 10 years old, and 5 percent of adults. We scoured the Web to find answers to some frequently asked questions about sleep talking -- giving you background information so that you or your loved one can literally sleep better at night.



Note: You should not rely on the information in this post as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other accredited sleep expert. --Andrea Hermitt


Sleep Talking

Sleep talking, also called somniloquy, is the act of talking while sleeping. It is a type of parasomnia, which is any kind of abnormal behavior done while sleeping. Sleep talking appears to happen when a person is between a state of being awake and asleep.


Symptoms

A person who talks in his sleep would never know it if someone else didn't witness it. A husband, wife, roommate or child will inform the sleep talker that they were speaking while still apparently asleep. A sleep talker can utter anything from single unintelligible words to full eloquent conversations. Most sleep talkers speak for only about 30 seconds at a time, but some people have several episodes a night.


Causes

There are many possible causes for sleep talking, many of which can be attributed to other sleep issues. A medical condition, a medication, a mental health disorder or substance abuse could all potentially be to blame. Sleep talking can also be caused by emotional stress.


Standard Treatments

There are no standard treatments for sleep talking. Instead, a doctor may treat the underlying health issue that may be causing the disturbances. For example, sleep deprivation may cause sleep talking and is treated by making sure the sleep talker gets plenty of sleep every night, reduces stress and anxiety, keeps a strict sleep schedule and avoids foods before bedtime.


Severity

Sleep talking is generally a harmless issue. It doesn't require treatment unless it is keeping others awake or causes the sleep talker distress.


Quality Of Life

Sleep talking can affect one's quality of life if the talker becomes aggressive or says things they don't want others to hear. Sleep talkers are suffering from a type of insomnia, so they may be tired during the day.


Talk To Your Doctor

When discussing sleep talking with your doctor, you need to first find out how long you have been sleep talking. Parents, siblings or significant others should be able to help you. You will also want to keep a two-week sleep diary to help your doctor see your sleeping patterns. Make sure your doctor has your complete medical history as well.


Have you ever suffered from sleep talking? What advice worked for you?

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