Despite what popular culture might suggest, sleep talking isn’t just something that happens when you’re holding onto a deep dark secret. Nor is it a way for you to subconsciously clear the air and reveal everything you’ve been hiding while you’re unconscious.
The truth is that sleep talking is just like most other sleeping disorders — it’s a sign that you’re not getting the right quality of rest.
While sleep talking isn’t particularly dangerous, and the chances are that you’re not going to embarrass yourself (too much) with anything that you say, that doesn’t mean that you want to leave the issue unaddressed. If you’re having problems with sleep talking, there are some ways that you can keep the pillow talk to a minimum.
Here’s your guide to curing or preventing sleep talking.
What causes you to talk in your sleep? Preventing sleep talking
Otherwise known as somniloquy, sleep talking is a mysterious and often entertaining ailment. The chances are that either you, your partner, or one of your kids have spouted some random nonsense during the night when they’re still not fully awake.
The question is, how do you prevent sleep talking, or at least reduce your risk of encountering it?
Well, according to the National Sleep Foundation, preventing sleep talking starts with understanding what’s causing your problem in the first place. There are a number of things that can cause us to start chattering away in our sleep, from issues with anxiety and depression that disrupt our rest, to illness and substance abuse.
If you suffer with other problems in your sleep, such as recurring nightmares, sleep behaviour disorder (REM), or sleep apnea, then your chances of experiencing sleep talking are higher too. What’s more, if other people in your family sleep talk, then there’s a good chance that you will as well, as many experts believe the condition is partially genetic.
To start your journey into looking for remedies for how to stop sleep talking, ask yourself what might be causing your issues? Do you have a history of somniloquy in your family? Are you constantly messing up your circadian rhythms by working different shifts? Maybe you’ve become a little too reliant on your evening nightcap to help you drift off? Make a note of everything that could be affecting your quality of sleep.
How to stop talking in your sleep: Look for other problems
As mentioned above, sleep talking is rarely a dangerous condition by itself.
Most of the time, learning how to cure sleep talking is something that people will do simply because they know that they need to improve their quality of sleep, or because they don’t want to disturb their partner. However, when you begin searching for a sleep talking treatment, you may also learn that chatting in your sleep can be a sign of some deeper, underlying disorders.
While for most people, sleep talking disorder is something that comes on randomly and goes away by itself, it may also be a red flag. For instance, if you’re constantly talking in your sleep, this could indicate that you have a condition called REM sleep behaviour disorder.
Sleep behaviour disorder refers to a condition where people yell, kick, punch or act out during their dreams. Usually, in typical REM sleep, your body will paralyse your muscles to stop you from acting out your dreams or hurting yourself. However, if you have RBD, then you won’t experience this paralysis. RBD isn’t always dangerous, but it can be harmful to the people around you.
Another thing to consider when looking into how to prevent sleep talking is whether you have a history of night terrors and nightmares. Night terrors cause people to suddenly wake up in the night, often filled with fear and confusion. These extreme physical sensations can cause people to thrash around during their dreams. Additionally, night terrors also prompt walking and talking during sleep.
If your sleep issues are accompanied by fear, nightmares, excessive sweating or movement, then the best thing you can do is see a doctor. Only a medical professional will be able to determine whether there’s another underlying condition that’s contributing to your problems. If you do have an underlying issue, then preventing sleep talking will begin with finding a solution for the root cause of your sleep disturbances first.
How do you stop sleep talking? Start with sleep hygiene
Once you have an idea of what causes you to talk in your sleep, you’ll be in a better position to start considering treatment options. Generally, doctors and medical experts won’t prescribe any medication for a sleep talking treatment. Instead, they’ll ask you to take a natural approach to adjust your sleep hygiene strategy. The reason for this is that most of the medications that might be helpful at dealing with things like sleep talking, such as anxiety medications or sleeping pills, can also cause sleep disorders too. Your doctor may even go through your regular medications with you if you complain about sleep talking, to see if any of those are leading to greater problems.
Once your doctor has assessed your current medications and made sure that none of those are worsening your sleep, they’ll recommend a few ways to naturally stop sleep talking, such as:
Following a night-time routine: Sleep talking, like other common disorders, appears to happen more often when people are sleep deprived. Following a regular schedule of waking up and going to bed at the same time each day will help you to get more rest and reduce the severity of sleep talking instances.
Managing your stress: If you’re constantly dealing with anxiety and depression when you go to bed each night, then you’re more likely to have a poor quality of sleep. Stress increases the frequency and severity of most sleep disorders, so it may be worth speaking to a psychologist or expert about how you can counteract this problem.
Avoid alcohol: While most people think that alcohol helps them to fall asleep at night, it also reduces the quality of the rest that you get. Alcohol interrupts common sleeping patterns and makes it more likely that you’ll wake up through the evening. Limiting your alcohol intake is often a good idea if you have sleeping problems.
Skip the snacks: Eating food before bedtime isn’t always a bad idea — particularly if you’re hungry, and you know which meals to eat to support your sleeping patterns. However, large meals will often disrupt your sleep by making your digestive system work harder. With that in mind, try to stop eating at least four hours before bed.
Getting more exercise: Building more time for exercise into your routine is an excellent way to strengthen your mental health with an extra boost of serotonin. It also means that you’re more likely to fall asleep faster and sleep soundly through the night. Exercise is one of the best remedies for sleep talking.
Sleep talking treatments: Options for your partner
Like most sleeping disorders, there’s no one-size-fits-all cure for sleep talking. However, since issues like somniloquy are often caused by troubled or disrupted sleep, there are plenty of ways that you can go about preventing sleep talking by changing your sleeping patterns. What’s more, sleep experts and doctors with specialist knowledge of this condition can also help you to manage your condition.
The best sleep talking cure is plenty of good, restful sleep each night. However, while you’re working on your routine, you might need to look into ways to make things a little easier for your partner if you don’t sleep alone. After all, while sleep talking might not affect you negatively, it’s probably going to make it harder for your partner to get the right quality of rest.
Options for the sleep partner include:
Wearing earplugs or using a white noise machine: This is a great option for people who are often woken up by external noises. If you don’t feel comfortable wearing earplugs to bed, a white noise machine is a handy alternative.
Sleep in separate beds or rooms: Although this might seem like a drastic measure, it could be a temporary solution while a partner is working on their sleep talking cure. You can always move back into the same bedroom when things settle down.
Going to sleep earlier: Often, the early stages of sleep are the ones in which we’re most likely to be disrupted by noise. With that in mind, you could consider going to sleep a little earlier than your partner, so you’re already knocked out by the time they get to bed. Have a cup of relaxing tea and go to bed just before your loved one.
How do you stop sleep talking?
There’s no one-size-fits-all cure for sleep talking.
Some people will find that more exercise during the day, less alcohol at night and a consistent sleeping pattern will banish their late-night conversations entirely. Other people might need extra help, including cognitive behavioral therapy, or even hypnosis.
The key to success with your sleep talking treatment is to figure out what’s causing the problem in the first place. Work with your partner or parents to maintain a sleep diary, so you can figure out what’s happening to you during the night. There are even smartphone apps that you can download to record the noises that you make during sleep.
Additionally, remember not to take whatever you say during periods of sleep talking seriously. Experts have universally agreed that the things that we say during sleep aren’t necessarily a sign of any underlying psychological condition or truth. Most pillow talk is gibberish!