Somniloquy: The Sounds of Sleep Talking

Written by Tyler Jamison with contributions from Kevin Morton & the Stanford Sleep Book
Who Sleep Talks? | Cause For Concern? | When Does It Happen? | Treatment

Somniloquy, or sleep talking, is the production of speech or sounds during sleep without the person being aware. The sleep talking can range from basic sounds to lengthy sentences and can occur infrequently or multiple times throughout the same night.

The content of somniloquy can range from being totally harmless to very offensive language with vulgarity, as humourously demonstrated recently by Adam and his wife Karen on their blog Sleep Talkin' Man.

Episodes of somniloquy can range from a few utterances to much longer episodes of several minutes. Most last around 30 seconds.

Somniloquy is a kind of parasomnia, which is defined as an abnormal behavior that occurs when an individual is sleeping. It is extremely common and it is not deemed to be a serious medical threat.

Dr. Dement

Dr. D's Sleep Book Says...

Sleep talking is almost always a benign phenomenon and seldom represents a significant sleep disorder.... [It] typically becomes a problem only when it is sufficiently frequent or loud enough to disturb the sleep of others. Occasional episodes are almost universal.

Who Sleep Talks?

There are a lot of people who talk in their sleep throughout the world. About 50% of children between the ages of 3 and 10 and 5% of adults talk during sleep, with wide ranges in the frequency of episodes.

A poll that took place in 2004 showed that roughly 10% of children talk in their sleep at least a few nights per week. Researchers believe that somniloquy might run in families and that it occurs in females just as much as in males. In addition, a recent study showed that about 80% of toddlers talk in their sleep.

Sleep talkers are not aware that they are talking in their sleep and usually speak in a very dry tone without much emotion.

Do you sleep talk? Share your experience with us!

Is Sleep Talking Something To Be Concerned With?

Sleep experts do not consider somniloqy a major problem unless it is accompanied by other disorders, such as sleep apnea. Chronic sleep talking can be related to intercurrent sleep disturbances, which apnea creates. So in this light, while sleep talking itself is not harmful, it could be a warning sign of a greater problem if it occurs chronically.

Additionally, REM sleep behavior disorder and sleep terrors can cause some individuals to shout in their sleep.

Children who have sleep terrors often demonstrate somniloquy and/or somnambulism (sleepwalking) as well. In this light, sleep talking can again be viewed as a possible sign that something else may be going on if other abnormal behaviors during sleep warrant that thinking.

Somniloquy can also occur in people who possess nocturnal sleep related eating disorder, take specific medications, have emotional problems, or have a fever. Furthermore, anxiety and stress make people more prone to talk in their sleep. This said though, researchers still have little idea why somniloquy actually occurs.

As mentioned in Dr. D's Sleep Book above, sleep talking should be addressed if it disturbs the sleep of a partner or roommate. You can explore some possible treatments of somniloquy here.

Have a question? Ask us!

When Do Sleep Talking Episodes Take Place?

The occurrence of somniloquy often takes place during NREM sleep transitory arousals during NREM stages 1 and 2, but can take place at any stage of sleep. These arousals take place when an individual does not move efficiently from one NREM sleep stage to the next, resulting in a partial arousal that can trigger an episode.

Somniloquy also may take place in REM sleep, where words and sentences that are spoken in dreams are actually spoken out loud.

While talking during sleep can happen during any sleep stage, people tend to speak clearer and more intelligible during lighter sleep (NREM stages 1 and 2).

How Is Sleep Talking Treated?

If the frequency of sleep talking is bothering the family and disrupting sleep for others, there are some things you can keep in mind that may reduce the frequency and severity of episodes:

  • Make sure the sleep talker gets plenty of sleep every night, someone who is sleep deprived is more likely to sleep talk than someone who is well rested.
  • Reduce the stress and anxiety levels of the individual, as stress can strengthen the likelihood and severity of episodes.
  • Keep to a regular schedule of going to bed and getting up at the same time.
  • Don't eat a heavy meal right before bedtime.
  • If an episode occurs, make sure the sleep talker is safe, and gently soothe them if necessary.

There is no one method to stop or increasingly reduce sleep talking. However, as stated in the bullet points above, avoiding things that cause anxiety and stress as well as reducing one's sleep debt can make an individual much less likely to talk during sleep.

In addition, recording a sleep diary can also be helpful. It may allow an individual suffering from somniloquy, or his or her doctor, to identify sleep patterns; this, in turn, may reveal problems that cause the sleep talking. If you have somniloquy and would like to keep a sleep diary, should keep a sleep diary for two weeks and should record the times that he or she goes to bed, when he or she falls asleep, and when he or she wakes up. Also, the medicines a person takes and the time of day that he or she takes them, what drinks a person has each day and at what time, and when you exercise should all be recorded.

If somniloquy occurs as an adult or if it involves violence and screaming than it would be in a person's best interest to see a sleep specialist. If sleep talking is interfering with a child's sleep then his or her parents should contact a pediatrician. While no tests are required to diagnose somniloquy, a doctor may order a sleep recording if symptoms of another sleep disorder seem like they could be present. Even though somniloquy doesn't usually need treatment, extreme sleep talking has the possibility of being a side effect of another sleep disorder that should be treated.


Enjoy this page? Please help us pay it forward to others who would find it valuable by Liking, Sharing, Tweeting, Stumbling, and/or Voting below.

Do You Have A Sleep Talking Story or Question?

Do you talk during your sleep? Do you have a story about your sleep talking or that of a friend, spouse, or roommate? We would love to hear about it!

Share your story, thoughts, and questions about somniloquy with the world by writing in the form below. Once you have, your submission will be able to be commented on by us and our visitors.

Enter A Brief Descriptive Title (ex: "The Sweet Sounds Of Somniloquy")

Read Other Somniloquy Stories

Click on the links below to read other stories, thoughts, and questions about sleep talking. They were all written by other visitors to this page, just like you.

Conversation and Dream With My Wife While In Deep Sleep 
While me and my wife are sleeping we talk to each other and have the same dream. While we are talking I can see things before they happen. One night …

Sleep Talking Is Ruining My Relationship 
My boyfriend and I have been together for two years. I go to a school that requires me to wake up at 3 in the morning everyday so I usually take a nap …

My Boyfriend Sleep Talks And Calls Out His EX's Name... :(( 
My boyfriend sleep talks!! It’s been more than a month.. I dunno what to do??! Please give me some advice, good advice…. He has the same dream almost …

Narrating My Dreams? 
I sleep-talk some, and friends throughout my life have noted it, from about the time I was 9 years old. I have woken myself up twice screaming in distress …

Went To Heaven When Asleep 
My roommate, I believe went to Heaven last night. In her sleep she stated she did not want to live here anymore. She asked to go! She started singing a …

I Know You Can Sleep Talk, But Really? 
First off its my boyfriend who does this and its more funny than anything else but I was just wondering if this counted as sleep walking ? What he …

Sleep Affairs 
My fiance has been talking in his sleep for over a year now. He often talks to other people, work related or current events. I get very concerned when …

My Subconcious Betraying Me? 
I have begun living with my boyfriend at the beginning of this month, and he has informed me that, lately (in the past couple of weeks) I have been talking …

Help - I Talk In My Sleep Like I'm Having Sex With Other Men 
I am a 34 year old female. My husband says I talk in my sleep almost every night. He says I talk like I'm having sex with other men. I call out names. …

My Boyfriend's Sub Conscious  
A few weeks ago my boyfriend came over my house to stay for the day. At one point he fell asleep and I was drifting off as well. When I woke up, I just …

Is What I Say While Sleep Talking Real Or A Dream? 
I am a sleep-talker. I have just discovered that this problem is named "somniloquy". When i´m asleep I say things that offends my wife because I got rude …

Unable To Talk Properly Whilst Dreaming 
I have a few questions to ask about sleep talking . I sleep talk quite a lot and have been known to talk, shout, swear and sing. I've even been known …

Carrying On Full Conversations 
My girlfriend and i talk on the phone every night before bed. After we've been talking for a while its usually pretty late, we continue talking carrying …

Sleep Talking, Waking Up And Still Talking Before I Realise What I Am Doing 
Hello :) Well I have a very close relationship with my boyfriend and we can really talk about anything. In the last few months I find myself waking …

Sleep Talking and Dreaming In Different Languages 
Hello- I am a high school psychology teacher. We were discussing sleep and dreaming and a student of mine said that something interesting happened to her. …

Long Conversations At Night While Sleep Talking 
My husband tells me that a few times a month, if he wakes up during the night, I am involved in a long conversation. Well, it has the rhythm of a conversation …

My boyfriend's sleep talk through the ENTIRE night 
My boyfriend sleep talks ALL night almost every night. He doesn't mumble, he speaks very clearly just as when he is awake. I can have long conversations …

My Girlfriend's Complete Honesty While Sleep Talking 
I had a full conversation with my girlfriend whilst she was sleeping. First, she was incoherent and was talking about skateboards, so I woke her up. She …

Asleep Conversation 
My cousin and I went on holiday together twice. Each time we slept in the same room. On our first holiday together I woke up one night, as my cousin asked …

13 Year Old Step Son Screams and Shouts 
My step son moved in about 2 months ago. He has been staying with us at weekends and he and his siblings have told me that he shouts in his sleep. Now …

Question: Sleep Talking By Rape Victim 
My wife of four weeks now has had sleep talking issues apparently for a long time. This was noticed by me since we first started dating that she has reoccuring …

Short Sleep Talking Stories 
I'm 18 years old, and I sleep talk. Often. My ex-fiance asked me questions once, while I was sleeping, where I admitted to having feelings for my bestfriend, …

Father Spoke Different Language In Sleep 
One night I heard my father speaking or yelling in his sleep. He sounded very angry and it wasn't in English. It sounded like some native American Indian …

The Random Night-Time Conversations, Spewing Truths Like An Open Book 
Well, some of my friends and my boyfriend have mentioned that sometimes I talk in my sleep . My boyfriend used to be over most nights, and he would …

Click here to write your own.

Sleep Talking About Work...And Other Things 
My significant other started a new job a few months ago. About two months ago, she began sleep talking (and a bit of somnambulance). When she talks, …

Boyfriend Sleep Talking But Seeming Fully Awake 
It hasn't been an uncommon thing for me to wake up and hear my boyfriend sleep talking saying perfect sentences and sounding as if he were carrying out …

Solutions re Talking with Sleep Apnea/ CPap Machine  
I learned that I talk in my sleep on a trip down east with a friend 12 years ago. She told me that I talked in full sentences for long periods. She told …

Camp Fire False Alarm 
I have gone on several camping expeditions with my friends in the past few years and all of them I will never forget. Talk about talking, on the last …

I Sleep Talk Every Night And It's Getting Worse 
I'm a 32 year old female. When I was a young child I slept talked and slept walked, and also would get out of bed and eat in my sleep. This occured as …

Sleep Talking and Fighting 
I have had sleep problems as far back as I can remember. I yell and scream. I hit my partner when I'm fighting in my dreams. Sometimes I can remember what …

Carries On Conversations During Sleep 
Jessica is now 3 years old. Since about age one she will rub the arm of whoever is in bed with her (mother, father, or grandmother), and say I love you …

Random Sleep Comments 
I've known that I talked in my sleep as a child, and at times would sit up or look around while asleep but I always assumed it was finished by adulthood. …

Our Son Answers Us When He's Sleeping 
Our 11 year old son appears to be a very light sleeper. When my husband goes in to check on him before we go to bed, he often says "Goodnight son" to …

Are You More Truthful When You Sleep Talk? 
Are you more truthful when you sleep talk ? Kevin: Interesting question. I can't provide very much evidence or insight on this from what I currently …

Hilarious Sleep Talking - Is It Harmful to Converse? 
I have a friend who says hilarious things while sleep talking. We found this out at camp when she sleep talked every night! She sang songs and our favorite …

Click here to write your own.

About This Site

Welcome! This site is continuously being created by students of Dr. William C. Dement's Sleep And Dreams course at Stanford University.

We made this site as a call to action for people all over the world to live healthier, happier, safer, and more productive lives by learning about their own sleep. We have faith that reading the information provided on this site will motivate you to be smart about your sleep deprivation and strategic about your alertness in order to live life to your fullest, most energetic potential.

In fact, we challenge you to do so! What do you say, are you up for the challenge?

The Stanford Sleep Book

Stanford Sleep Book Picture

Dr. Dement's pioneering textbook has been the core text for Sleep and Dreams since 1980, but it has just recently been made available to the wider public for the first time.

In it you'll find a more detailed account of the most important things you need to know about sleep, alertness, dreams, and sleep disorders. Studies, statistics, plus plenty of Dr. Dement's classic anecdotes painting the history of sleep medicine.

Preface | Intro | Contents | Get A Copy

More Sleep Resources

The Zeo

A revolution in personal sleep tracking, the Zeo is a wireless headband that transmits your brainwaves in realtime to a dock (pictured here) or your smartphone. The result? You can wake up and see exactly what stages of sleep you were in during the night! Unprecedented personalized sleep knowledge.

Sleep Paralysis: A Dreamer's Guide

Sleep Paralysis Treatment Book

Ever woken up paralyzed? A surprising number of us have, believe it or not. But few know the actual causes of this phenomenon, and fewer still how to exert control over it. Dream researcher and sleep paralysis expert Ryan Hurd shares breakthrough insights into how to do just that.

How This Site Was Made

In 2007 I discovered a guide to website building that would change my life. After learning from it diligently, it would eventually empower me to help Dr. Dement take his life's mission of spreading education about sleep health to the online world. Now, several years later, this site reaches over 100,000 visitors per month and counting.

The results are due in large part to the methods taught in that guide, and they are replicable for others who have knowledge of a subject they would like to share with the masses. I've detailed some of my journey here for those who might be interested.

Important Disclaimer

Please Note:

The information found on this page and throughout this site is intended for general information purposes only. While it may prove useful and empowering, it is NOT intended as a substitute for the expertise and judgments of healthcare practitioners.

For more info, see our
Terms of Use.