Sleep-Wake Transition

Sleep-wake transition disorders cause difficulties in making the transition from waking to slumber, or from one sleep stage to another. The best-known transition disorder is so common that most people don’t even consider it to be one: sleep talking


Sleep talking can occur at any point in the slumber cycle. The lighter the sleep, the more intelligible the speech. During the early stages of the cycle, people may have entire conversations while asleep. In deeper slumber, somniloquy may be restricted to moans and gibberish.

Popular myth associates sleep talking with dreams. While it is possible to talk while dreaming, it isn’t as likely as at other stages of slumber. During dreams, our body undergoes temporary paralysis: a safety mechanism designed to prevent us from acting out our dreams and hurting ourselves. This paralysis usually (but not always) includes the jaw and speech mechanisms.

People who talk while asleep have no awareness that they are talking, and often speak in an emotionless tone. Anxiety disorders, stress, and fevers are often responsible for the disorder. Somniloquy is not generally considered a serious problem unless other disorders, such as somnambulism and apnea, are involved.

Reducing Symptoms

  • Somniloquy can be very bothersome to other family members. Here are a few tips to help reduce nighttime chatter:
  • Get enough rest: sleep deprivation increases somniloquy.
  • Reduce stress levels as much as possible.
  • Practice proper sleep hygiene.
  • Avoid heavy meals before bedtime.