Rosalia C Silvestri MD (Dr. Silvestri is Director of the Interdepartmental Sleep Center at the University of Messina in Italy and has no relevant financial relationships to disclose.)
Antonio Culebras MD, editor. (

Dr. Culebras of SUNY Upstate Medical University at Syracuse received an honorarium from Jazz Pharmaceuticals for a speaking engagement.

Originally released August 17, 1995; last updated November 21, 2018; expires November 21, 2021

This article includes discussion of sleeptalking and somniloquy. The foregoing terms may include synonyms, similar disorders, variations in usage, and abbreviations.


In this article, the author describes the common manifestation of sleeptalking, an isolated symptom and a normal variant of sleep behavior of a benign nature. Sleeptalking may have a genetic background. The content may be meaningless or have emotional valence and also may be extensive or reduced to simple moaning or vocalization. No specific treatment for sleeptalking exists, although attention to sleep hygiene and treatment of an underlying disorder that precipitates the sleeptalking is usually helpful. The author reports that, especially in children, sleeptalking is often part of the disorders of arousal typical of that age group. Moaning, screaming, or nonsensical words are often heard by parents, heralding sleepwalking or sleep terror episodes. Also, sleep disordered breathing (SDB) or any kind of sleep deprivation may associate or precipitate sleeptalking. Other factors unrelated to sleep include febrile illness, stress/anxiety, and other mental health conditions (Avidan 2009).

Key points


• Sleeptalking is a normal variant of sleep.


• Although sleeptalking also occurs in patients with neurologic and psychiatric disorders, it does not require any treatment per se.


• There is no gender preference for the occurrence of sleeptalking in children, whereas there is a male preference in adults.


• Sleeptalking has a clear genetic influence.

Historical note and terminology

Sleeptalking is a phenomenon characterized by verbal vocalizations during sleep. The essential feature is talking, with varying degrees of comprehensibility during sleep (American Academy of Sleep Medicine 2014).

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