Sleep talking is both common and almost always harmless... to the person doing the talking.
Q: My partner has started talking in his sleep — a lot. Is it a sign of anxiety or something physically wrong? It's ruining my sleep and it can't be good for his sleep. How can I help him stop?
A: Sleep talking is both common and almost always harmless... to the person doing the talking. It may be expressed in incoherent mumbles or be clear as a bell, and it can be related to dreams or simply come from thoughts floating through a sleeping brain. The talkers usually have no idea it's going on and their sleep is not disturbed by it. A study in the journal Sleep Medicine found that around 66% of people have experienced sleep talking —but it isn't something that is frequent or persistent.
Is Sleep Talking Bad for My Health?
Sleep talking is not considered a health risk, but there are sleep disturbances that are linked to long-term health problems, such as mood disorders, cognition problems, heart disease, diabetes and even colorectal cancer. Sleep talking is also distinct from other conditions that trigger vocalization during sleep, such as catathrenia, a breathing disorder that causes audible groaning, and REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD), in which a person physically acts out a dream. Those conditions should be treated by a sleep specialist.
How to Help Stop Sleep Talking
Your best bet to tame the talk is to help your partner address stress and anxiety issues and adopt healthy sleep habits. That includes:
- Avoiding digital devices for at least 30 minutes before bedtime
- Meditating for 10–15 minutes before sleep
- Going to bed at a consistent time
- Reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption
- Getting outside for 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity a day
And if the sleep talking isn't the only sleep disturbance — if your partner also sleepwalks or has nightmares — you should make an appointment with a sleep specialist to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment. In the meantime, earplugs might help you get a good night's rest.
Learn why you have the sleep problems you do and how to solve them with this quiz created by Dr. Michael Breus. www.doctoroz.com