How to Stop Sleep Talking
If you’ve ever been told you talk in your sleep, you may have searched for a way to stop doing it. While sleep talking is generally harmless, you may not want to mumble while you sleep — especially if your sleeping self is more profane or argumentative than when awake. Though sleep talking symptoms vary person to person, your sleep talk can be coherent or jumbled, pleasant or combative. Some people yell profanity, and others answer questions.
“Sleep talking hasn’t been well researched and isn’t yet fully understood by scientists,” Dr. Chester Wu, sleep medicine physician in Houston, TX tells Sleepopolis. He says it may be related to your brain activating speech while you sleep or transition between sleep stages.
“There are no specific treatments for sleep talking,” says Wu, “as it is usually benign and does not require intervention.” Even though sleep talking doesn’t need treatment, you still may want it gone. You can’t always prevent it, but in this article, you can read about the best ways to stop sleep talking.
Get Enough Sleep
One of the most effective ways to stop sleep talking is to stay well-rested. Try to get enough sleep every night, says Wu. You can try to catch up on sleep by going to bed earlier or napping well before bedtime, but be sure not to get too off-schedule or you may end up right back where you started. Wu also recommends keeping consistent sleep and wake times across the week and weekend.
Chronic fatigue can make your sleep less restful, and sleep deprivation can cause all sorts of parasomnias. Routinely not getting enough sleep can lead to sleep cycle disturbance, which can then trigger sleep talking — there are plenty of benefits to getting enough sleep, and the potential to nix sleep talking is certainly one of them!
Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine Around Bedtime
“Alcohol, caffeine, and late heavy meals can all contribute to less efficient, consolidated sleep, so avoiding them in the hours before bed may help [with sleep talking],” says Wu. Caffeine is a stimulant: it keeps you awake, and experts recommend you cut yourself off about nine hours before you want to be asleep.
Additionally, while alcohol may make you feel sleepy, you are more likely to wake up often throughout the night once its sedative effects wear off, according to a study published in 2019. Alcohol can also disturb your circadian rhythm — your body’s internal clock — and interrupt your sleep, which can lead to sleep talking.
Avoid Heavy Meals
The term “food coma” is a bit misleading. It suggests that if you stuff yourself to the gills, you will find it easy to drift into a deep and long sleep. According to recent research, though, eating before bed can disrupt your sleep.
When you scarf down a snack before you sleep, your brain can get confused. Eating sparks your metabolism, and your internal clock may think you’re fueling up for some activity. Experts have varying opinions on when is best to stop munching before bedtime, but researchers agree late-night snacking is bad for sleep. You can try a few options, and find what works best for you.
Create a Relaxing and Consistent Bedtime Routine
It’s not very rock-and-roll, but curating a consistent and calming bedtime routine will pay out big time. Your brain constantly tries to recalibrate based on your choices: eating, exercising, and all your lifestyle habits.
Sleep is no different. If you choose to go to bed at a different time or after a different activity every night, your brain won’t be able to fully prepare your body for slumber. This can lead to tossing, turning, and — you guessed it — talking in your sleep.
Talk to Your Doctor About Medications
Some medications can disrupt sleep and lead to parasomnias. “Certain antidepressants have been found to cause sleep talking,” Wu says. “There’s an unfortunate catch-22 here, as depression itself has also been found to elicit sleep talking. Practicing sleep hygiene and getting enough nightly sleep will be all the more important in this case.”
Perhaps surprisingly, some sedatives like Ambien and Xanax can cause sleep problems, too. If you start taking a new medication and you notice your sleep quality worsens, let your healthcare provider know about it. Often, you have other options to try.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, hits your insomnia at the root cause. Led by a licensed mental health professional, CBT helps you discover the negative thought patterns that so often contribute to poor sleep.
As you delve into CBT, you can learn these thought patterns and how to cut them off. Once you’re sleeping better, your sleep-talking should lessen, too.
Keep a Sleep Diary
If you feel unsure about the cause of your nighttime speeches, you can try keeping a sleep diary. Before you go to sleep, write down what you did that afternoon and evening, what you ate and when you ate it, and note any other significant events.
If you argued with your partner, write it down. If you ate a five-course meal at your favorite restaurant…write it down. Even small details, when added up, can give your provider valuable clues as to what’s messing with your sleep.
Stress and sleep are not great bedfellows. Stress interferes with sleep, and bad sleep can stress you out. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), 45 percent of adults who reported high stress levels complained of an increase in those levels after not sleeping well.
The APA also stated adults sleeping less than eight hours at night reported higher stress than those who slept eight or more hours. When you’re stressed, your mind races, and that spinning brain doesn’t always stop once you doze off. Stress leads to fitful snoozing, and sleep talking can easily follow.
Go outside! Soaking up some sunshine can make all the difference thanks to your circadian rhythm. This internal timepiece ticks 24 hours a day.
It responds mainly to light and dark, so the more you can see daylight during waking hours, the more you will help your brain keep you alert during the day and sleepy at night. If your circadian rhythm gets out of whack, you could find yourself waking often throughout the night — unconscious babbling can come out of the ensuing sleep stage interruptions.
Exercise During the Day
If your body works hard during the day, it will rest more peacefully at night. One study found moderate exercise helped sleep more than vigorous exercise, but either is better than none.
The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. If these numbers feel intimidating, remember: It’s okay to start small and build your way up slowly. Exercise will give you better sleep with less noisy nighttime chatter.
The Last Word From Sleepopolis
If you want to know how to stop sleep talking, first focus on your sleep quality and how much you get. While getting better sleep may prove more easily said than done, you have lots of options to try. But if your efforts have run the gamut and you still feel your sleep isn’t improving, speak to your healthcare provider to rule out an underlying health condition. Otherwise, try making a few changes to your sleep routine, and see if you get a bit quieter while you snooze.
What triggers sleep talking?
Sleep talking can have many triggers. “Genetics and external factors, such as stress, anxiety, depression, alcohol, caffeine, illness (with a fever), and certain medications may contribute to sleep talking,” says Wu.
Is it unhealthy to sleep talk?
The act of talking in your sleep is harmless, says Wu. It may annoy someone sleeping near you, but it does not hurt you.
Is there a treatment for sleep talking?
Treatment for sleep talking is not needed for health reasons, but if you want to stop, the best way is to improve your sleep in general: practice good sleep hygiene, limit stress, exercise during the day, and keep a sleep diary.
Is sleep talking normal?
“Sleep talking is relatively common,” says Wu, “affecting up to 50 percent of children and about 5 percent of adults.”
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