February 4, 2021/Sleep

Talking In Your Sleep? Here’s What That Could Mean

What we do and don’t know about sleep talking

woman sleeping in bed

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night to your spouse, roommate or child mumbling nonsense – or actual sentences – out loud while they sleep? Chances are, when morning rolled around, they had no idea that it even happened.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Or maybe it’s you who’s been known to startle someone else awake with a midnight monologue.

Talking in your sleep (or somniloquy, as it’s known in the medical world), is a common type of parasomnia, or abnormal behavior during sleep. An estimated two in three people talk in their sleep at some point in their lives – and it’s especially common in children.

It can be a little irritating or embarrassing, depending on which side of it you’re on. Usually, it’s harmless, but occasionally it can be a sign of a more serious sleep disorder or health condition, says sleep specialist Michelle Drerup, PsyD.

Why do people talk in their sleep?

Unfortunately, there’s no clear-cut answer here. You might expect that when someone sleep talks, they’re acting out something that’s unfolding in a dream they’re having. This may be true some of the time.

“There’s some evidence that, at times, sleep talking may be related to dreams, but this is not always the case,” Dr. Drerup explains. Most dreams happen when you’re in the deep, rapid eye movement (REM) phase of sleep. But sleep talking can happen during any stage of sleep, including both REM and non-REM sleep.


Sleep talking might also be associated with other parasomnias, such as sleepwalking or sleep terrors

“Since most parasomnias are thought to be a mixed state between wakefulness and sleep, sleep talking may be more likely to happen when sleep patterns are disrupted or disturbed,” Dr. Drerup says.

That means any factor that’s known to disrupt sleep – like stress or alcohol – could be a contributing factor to sleep talking.

Though most cases of sleep talking aren’t associated with other serious health issues, it’s possible that it could be related to:

“If your sleep talking occurs suddenly as an adult, or if it involves intense fear, screaming or violent actions, you should consider seeing a sleep specialist,” Dr. Drerup says.

How to stop sleep talking

Since it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what causes sleep talking, there aren’t really any science-based ways to stop it.


Your best bet? Work on improving your sleep hygiene.

“Focusing on healthy sleep habits and improving the sleep environment may eliminate potential sleep disruptions and improve sleep quality,” Dr. Drerup says.

Take these steps to get your best sleep possible:

  • Stick to a regular sleep schedule.
  • Aim for seven to nine hours a night.
  • Give yourself 30 to 60 minutes of quiet, screen-free time to wind down before bed.
  • Minimize and manage your stress levels.
  • Limit alcohol consumption.
  • Avoid caffeine for at least six hours before bedtime.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Make sure your bedroom is quiet and dark.
  • Keep the temperature of the room between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit.

Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

woman sleeping with eye open
February 6, 2024/Eye Care
Why Do Some People Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

Nocturnal lagophthalmos may be caused by damaged nerves or muscles in your face

person sleeping in bed with heart rate monitoring watch showing
January 23, 2024/Heart Health
Checking Your Heart Rate While Sleeping? Here’s What Those Numbers Mean

Your heart rate naturally slows down while you sleep, but lower numbers aren’t always concerning

person sitting on bed stretching
January 22, 2024/Sleep
How To Become a Morning Person

Break up with your snooze button by shifting your bedtime and establishing a consistent nighttime routine

female awake in bed staring ahead with male next to her asleep
January 19, 2024/Sleep
3 Steps for Managing Sleep Maintenance Insomnia

Keeping a sleep diary and seeing a sleep specialist can help you stay asleep and get the ZZZs you need

person in wheelchair lifting weights in gym
December 26, 2023/Heart Health
7 New Year’s Resolutions To Improve Your Heart Health

Resolve to move a little more, drink a little less, eat a little healthier, sleep a little better and destress a lot

Top view of person sitting in bathtub with cold water and lots of ice.
November 26, 2023/Orthopaedics
Brrr! What To Know About Cold Plunges

An ice bath can ease sore muscles and decrease inflammation after a workout

glass of cherry juice with cherries on table
November 7, 2023/Nutrition
Sleepy Girl Mocktail: What’s in It and Does It Really Make You Sleep Better?

This social media sleep hack with tart cherry juice and magnesium could be worth a try

woman sleeping
November 1, 2023/Women's Health
Is It Bad To Sleep in a Bra?

Head to bed in a bra to reduce breast pain, nipple irritation and stretch marks

Trending Topics

Person in yellow tshirt and blue jeans relaxing on green couch in living room reading texts on their phone.
Here’s How Many Calories You Naturally Burn in a Day

Your metabolism may torch 1,300 to 2,000 calories daily with no activity

woman snacking on raisins and nuts
52 Foods High In Iron

Pump up your iron intake with foods like tuna, tofu and turkey