Why Do People Talk in Their Sleep? 5 Things to Know About Sleep Talking

Fact Checked Medically reviewed by Tanja Premru-Sršen


Sleep talking, or somniloquy, is the act of speaking while sleeping.

This can include mumbling incoherently or saying complete sentences. It can vary from person to person, depending on whether they are aware of their speech while they are asleep or not.

Talkativeness differs from night-terrors in that it is not associated with intense fear. If you have ever awakened to hear your partner talking during sleep, don’t worry—it’s pretty common.

Today, we’re looking at why people speak in their sleep and what it means. So, sit back and relax as you read through the following 5 reasons why people talk in their sleep.

What Is Sleep Talking?

Sleep talking is a parasomnia that involves speaking while sleeping, especially when sleep patterns are interrupted.

Sleep talking can range in intensity. Some people might just talk in mumbles and grunts, while others will say complete sentences. It can vary from person to person, depending on whether they are aware of their speech while they are asleep or not.

Sleep talking affects both children and adults. It can be hard to distinguish sleep talking from regular speaking because the person may sound coherent or even shout. The behavior might also indicate stress or anger.

People who talk in their sleep often do not remember doing so afterward. The words and sentences that they say might also be difficult to understand. Sleep talking episodes can lead to sleep terrors, although this is rarer.

Symptoms of Sleep Talking

There are many different types of sleep talking. Sometimes it’s loud, sometimes it’s quiet, and other times the person might not even be aware that they’re doing it in their sleep.

The following are some common symptoms of sleep talking:

  • Repetitive words or phrases: This is the most common type of sleep talking, and it tends to be short phrases like “No!” or “Get out!”
  • Complete sentences: This is considered sleep talking, and it may include speaking to someone who isn’t there.
  • Calling out: Sleep talkers might say someone’s name and then remain silent after that.
  • Screaming: This usually happens during a night terror, though it can happen during sleep talking, as well.
  • Incoherent words or mumbling: The person might sound entirely incoherent for another awake person.
  • Tension in one’s voice: The person might sound as if they are stressed out or panicking.
  • Laughing: If the person is laughing after saying something, it could be a symptom of sleep talking.
  • Ask or give a command: Someone might ask another person to do something, or they might demand that someone leave.

Although sleep talking can sometimes be as subtle as mumbling or humming, other times, severe sleep talking is more dramatic. If you’ve ever been awoken by the sound of your partner shouting unintelligible things, you may have thought they were having a nightmare.

However, it is often due to sleep talking—a benign behavior that has no adverse effects other than potentially annoying other people in the same bed.

Why People Talk in Their Sleep

There are many reasons people sleep talk (or even walk while sleeping). Some of the most common causes include:

Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety can lead to strange behaviors while one sleeps, including sleep talking. New job, relationship troubles, relationship issues with family members—many stressors can prompt people to talk during their sleep.

Sleep is a time when the brain and body can relax, so if you’re stressed about something, it might find its way into your dreams.

If you’re feeling stressed or anxious about something, it might be a good idea to try to clear your mind before you go to sleep.

Medical Issues

If someone is dealing with a mental illness or other medical condition, they may also experience strange behaviors while sleeping.

In these cases, the talkativeness during their slumber could simply be another symptom of a more serious sleep disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea.

It’s important to consider any medical conditions the person may have before diagnosing them with sleep talking, especially if they’re not experiencing other symptoms or behaviors that point to this type of parasomnia.

Depression and Bipolar Disorder

People who deal with depression might also experience sleeptalking as well as sleep-eating and sleepwalking. Bipolar disorder is another mental illness that can produce several strange sleep disorders.


If someone has experienced trauma or has had nightmares in the past, they might talk during sleep due to these intense thoughts. Nightmares are often characterized by feelings of intense fear or stress.

Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD)

People who suffer from RBD don’t experience nightmares like people with Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but they might act them out during sleep.

The person’s body will release adrenaline, and the brain becomes active during these episodes, leading to talking or yelling or bodily movements that seem aggressive.


If your sleep talking occurs suddenly, speaking with a sleep specialist about treatment options might be helpful.

Depending on the underlying cause, the sleep talker will likely need some kind of medical attention to get back on track with sleeping soundly at night without acting out their dreams.

For most people, sleep talking is not a sign of any more serious sleep disorder issue; however, there are cases where it can indicate something more.

If you or someone you know is experiencing sleep talking that affects your quality of life, speak to a sleep specialist about treatment options.

What to Do If a Loved One Is Talking During Their Sleep

If you notice that your loved one is talking during their sleep, it’s not necessary to wake them abruptly. If they are sleeping alone, try to wake them up gently by calling their name or touching them on the arm.

If a loved one wakes you up during the night with a case of sleep talking, simply let them know that it sounded like they had a bad dream and that you’re right there.

Most sleep talkers will not remember it in the morning, but if they seem upset about something when they wake up, try to console them and consider sharing your concerns with their doctor if necessary.

If sleep talking is causing problems in your relationship, the following steps can help you cope:

  • Wear earplugs if they snore or talk loudly during sleep.
  • Keep a notepad and pen by your bedside if you need to write down any important information they say.
  • Don’t argue with them about it, as this could cause stress and anxiety about their condition.
  • Sleep in separate rooms if the noise is too much for you.


Though sleep talking can be embarrassing or disruptive to daily life, many different things could be causing it. Sleep talking can become a habit for some based on their sleeping environment. Others might experience sleep talking due to medical conditions like depression or bipolar disorder.

No matter what causes sleep talking, make sure you speak with a doctor about how to stop sleep talking for you or your loved one. If you’ve noticed this happening to them, offer comfort and let them know that it’s not unusual to happen when experiencing stress. As long as it is not interrupting their sleeping pattern, there is no reason to worry.

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