Q: Hi Dr. Ketch, I really need your help so bad because I have a huge problem every time I go to sleep. Every time I sleep, I always experience “SLEEP TALKING”. How can I prevent that illness? Doc please help me! Thank you!
A: Thanks for writing in!
Sleep talking refers to talking during sleep without being aware of it. This is medically referred to as somniloquy. Sleep talking may be spontaneous or triggered by conversation with the ‘sleep talker.’ The sleep talkers may mumble simple sounds/gibberish or long speeches; they may talk for a few seconds per episode or several times during the night; they may whisper or shout; they may appear to be talking to themselves or other people; voice and language may be similar to or different from normal etc. The list goes on…
Sleep talking is common in children and appears to run in families although it could also be brought on by fever, stress, sleep deprivation, certain medications, substance abuse, alcohol, depression etc. It is not typically considered a medical problem especially when it occurs by itself but it could also be the sign of a more serious medical disorder. This condition could occur with other sleep disorders like sleepwalking, sleep apnea, nightmares etc.
What can you do on your own to reduce this? No treatment is usually required but if this is severe or goes on for a long time, then an intervention is needed. A good place to start would be a review of the listed causes above to understand which of them could be responsible for this problem in your own case. For instance, if you’re not getting enough sleep, are stressed, are abusing drugs or alcohol, work on those. Review your medications (including the times you take them) with your doctor and seek help for depression. If none of these appear to help, then a consultation with a sleep specialist is in order. If you do not know one, your doctor will be able to refer you to one.
In the meantime, ensure that you let your partner know that you are working on getting help for this condition. A stop-gap measure that could help them get more sleep (if your sleep talking is depriving them of much needed sleep) is to get ear plugs and also use ‘white noise’ like the sound of a fan to drown out the noise of your sleep talks.
All the best! J