Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience and a medical advice columnist for Newsmax Magazine. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. He is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.
Tags: sleep | talk | dream | rem

Why Do I Talk in My Sleep?

Friday, 17 Jan 2014 10:22 AM

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Question: l talk in my sleep sometimes and my husband will even ask me questions, which he says I answer — even though I'm sleeping. What can I do to stop this?

Dr. Hibberd's answer:

The medical term for talking in your sleep is somniloquy. This is a sleep disorder that involves unconscious talking during sleep, and it often occurs when your brain does not transition smoothly from one stage in non-REM sleep to another, and you become partly awake.

Less often, it may also occur during REM sleep and is then called dream speech. Sleep talking is very common in children (up to 50 percent of kids do it), and is usually gone by puberty. But up to 4 percent of adults continue sleep talking into adulthood. This condition seems to run in families, and in itself is harmless. Nothing said during sleep should not be taken literally since it is an unconscious act — and anything revealed during sleep talking should be inadmissible in court!

Some common causes include:
    1) Alcohol.
    2) Drugs including caffeine.
    3) Sleep deprivation.
    4) Stress, anxiety or, depression.
    5) Sleep apnea.
    6) Irregular sleep times and other poor sleeping habits. 

Consider a visit to a sleep specialist to rule out other disorders if addressing these common causes does not help. You can also try sleeping in different beds for a short time until the cycle is broken. Sometimes a white-noise machine or fan left on at night may help. Short-term use of a sleeping pill may help break the cycle, but only after your doctor is sure no underlying condition is present.

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