Somniloquy

sleep talking by Peter Quach

Somniloquy [som-nil-o-kwee] or sleep-talking is a parasomnia (sleep disorder) that refers to talking aloud in one’s sleep. It can be quite loud, ranging from simple sounds to long speeches, and can occur many times during sleep. Listeners may or may not be able to understand what the person is saying. Sleep-talking usually occurs during transitory arousals from NREM sleep, which is when the body does not move smoothly from one stage in NREM sleep to another, and they become partially aroused from sleep. Further it can also occur during REM sleep at which time it represents a motor breakthrough (see sleep paralysis) of dream speech, words spoken in a dream are spoken out loud.

Sleep-talking is very common and is reported in 50% of young children, with most of them outgrowing it by puberty, although it may persist into adulthood (about 4% of adults are reported to talk in their sleep). It appears to run in families. Sleep-talking can be associated with fever. Sleep-talking by itself is harmless; however, it can wake up others and cause them consternation—especially when misinterpreted as conscious speech by an observer. If the sleep-talking is dramatic, emotional, or profane it may be a sign of another sleep disorder. Sleep-talking can be monitored by a partner or by using an audio recording device; devices which remain idle until detecting a sound wave are ideal for this purpose. Polysomnography (sleep recording) shows episodes of sleep talking that can occur in any stage of sleep.

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