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What Is Somniloquy?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 23, 2024
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Somniloquy is basically the act of someone talking in his or her sleep, which can occur during any stage of sleep. Such talking can range widely, from quiet whispers and mumbling to clear and eloquent speech. Even yelling or screaming may occur during such vocalization. As long as such speaking occurs in relatively small amounts and is not disrupting others, it is considered perfectly normal and is not necessarily a sign of any sort of sleep disorder. Somniloquy can be part of other sleep disorders, however, including lack of sleep and even night terrors.

Also simply referred to as sleep talking, somniloquy is a fairly common event that occurs for many people as they sleep. Words spoken and ideas expressed during sleep talking can include just about anything, from short nonsensical whispers to loud outbursts of vulgarity or profanity. The person who experiences somniloquy usually has no memory of what he or she says while sleeping, and comments made during such sleep talking should not be considered representative of any conscious thoughts or ideas.

Somniloquy can occur during just about any stage of sleep, including non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and deeper rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Since this can occur at different points in the sleep process, the words spoken can represent a wide range of ideas and stem from different events. Someone who is not yet dreaming may simply speak gibberish in his or her sleep, while another person in deeper sleep could speak out loud words that are being spoken in a dream.

Sleep talking is not necessarily considered indicative of a sleep disorder, and is not considered a sleep disorder itself. As long as such talking is not overly disruptive to others sleeping nearby, it is typically nothing that should create concern. Most people are likely to speak or make noises occasionally during sleep, though ongoing somniloquy may be indicative of a larger problem.

Ongoing and long-term somniloquy may be indicative of a lack of sleep, and this can be caused by a number of factors such as excess caffeine or stress. There are cases in which people may speak while sleeping as a precursor or part of sleepwalking, which should be treated by a sleep therapist. Night terrors can also cause a person to scream or yell while sleeping, and such somniloquy can be fairly disquieting to others. In these instances, where sleep talking is indicative of a greater problem, then assistance from a health or sleep specialist should be considered.

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Discussion Comments
By kylee07drg — On Jul 25, 2012

My brother is so funny to listen to when he sleep talks. In fact, I think that he is funnier in his sleep than he is when he is awake!

We had to share a room as teenagers, because we lived in a small house. He sometimes snored, and I would always go poke him and tell him to stop.

One night, I walked over to his bed and said sternly, “Stop snoring!”

He immediately responded by saying, “Stop listening!”

I cracked up, and what was even funnier was the fact that he had no memory of saying that. I've considered recording his sleep talking episodes, but if I switch on the light to work the video camera, he wakes up.

By giddion — On Jul 24, 2012

@healthy4life – As you know, somniloquy causes you to be tired during the day. However, if the tiredness isn't so extreme that it disrupts your daily routine, then you might not need treatment.

I say things that are related to what I'm dreaming at the time during my sleep. So, they make no sense to my husband, but when he tells me about them the next day, I know why I said them.

I have gotten up to go to the bathroom before without ever remembering that I did it. I am just glad that I was able to go instead of wetting the bed!

I think that as long as you don't do dangerous sleepwalking or start having night terrors, then you don't really need treatment. I've heard that there are certain herbal remedies that help with this, but I just don't think that my case is severe enough to warrant taking them.

By healthy4life — On Jul 24, 2012

How important is it to get somniloquy treatment? I've been told that I talk in my sleep every night, and though I am tired most of the time, I feel like I do actually sleep through the night, because I don't remember being awake at all.

I've been told that I get up to go to the bathroom a couple of times each night, and I say strange things to my parents if they are up at the time. I do form sentences, but they are seemingly senseless.

Should I be worried? Is going to the bathroom considered sleepwalking, or is this completely normal? I don't think I've ever said anything offensive during somniloquy, so I haven't been that worried about getting treatment.

By Oceana — On Jul 24, 2012

I had no idea that talking in your sleep had anything to do with sleepwalking! My husband used to sleepwalk, but since we have been together, I have not seen him do it once. However, I have heard him say things at night that he has no recollection of in the morning.

The crazy thing is that he makes perfect sense when he talks in his sleep. I can actually have a conversation with him, and he has even made humorous comments during these sleep conversations, but he has no memory of what he said the next day.

However, he never progresses to actual sleepwalking. I hope he never does, because that could be dangerous. Hearing his somniloquy is just purely entertaining, and it doesn't seem to affect his rest at all.

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