Sleepwalking is a phenomenon that affects 2.5 percent of the adult population, according to the neuroscience journal Brain. It can be caused in adults by a range of issues, including an underlying medical or psychiatric condition, side effects of medication, or stress. In older adults, it is often associated with nocturnal delirium, an organic brain syndrome. In children, it is often something they simply grow out of. The treatments for sleepwalking vary accordingly, but you might try some of these out to see if they improve your condition.
Create a Safe Sleepwalking Environment
While you work on controlling your sleepwalking, you should also consider creating a safe sleeping environment in the meantime. This might mean ensuring there are no sharp furniture edges or glass for you to hurt yourself on in your room. Cover your windows with heavy drapes to avoid breaking the glass. You might put alarms on your doors to wake you up if you try to open them. Baby gates, oven mitts on your hands while you sleep, or sleeping in a zipped-up sleeping bag are other ways you can create a safer environment for you to sleep in.
Sleep talking is known as somniloquy. WebMD says it’s a type of parasomnia, an abnormal behavior that occurs during sleep. It’s common and not really considered a medical problem. Some people may talk many times at night, but others may just speak for about 30 seconds each time. People may be very articulate or mumble when they talk. Sometimes they talk to themselves, but they also seem to talk with others.
About five percent of adults talk in their sleep, and half of all kids between the ages of 3 and 10 talk in their sleep. Physicians are not aware if sleep talking occurs during dreaming as it can still happen in other stages of sleep. Sleep terrors, or night terrors, and REM behavior disorder are two medical conditions that could cause talking or yelling during sleep. Confusional arousals, fevers, psychiatric disorders, or nocturnal seizures are also causes, the latter two in adult onset frequent sleep talking.
How to Stop Sleepwalking
1.) Ask Your Doctor about Sleep-Disordered Breathing.
In a 2005 study, participants who were sleepwalkers who were treated for their sleep-disordered breathing with nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) saw their sleepwalking controlled. Others, who were treated with surgery that was successful, also had good results in controlling their sleepwalking.
2.) Try Hypnosis.
No, really. Give it a shot. A 1991 study found that “[h]ypnosis has been described anecdotally to be effective in the treatment of sleepwalking and sleep terror, potentially dangerous parasomnias.” Seventy-four percent of patients reported very substantial decreases in their sleepwalking “after instruction in self-hypnotic exercises that were practiced in the home. . .This represents a very cost-effective and noninvasive means of treatment, especially when contrasted with lengthy psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy.”
3.) Wake up at Scheduled Times.
Research from 1997 found that use of scheduled awakenings helped children with persistent sleepwalking. Children were woken several hours after they went to sleep and right before the usual time of their sleepwalking. Participant children eliminated their sleepwalking and maintained successful results at three and six months after treatment.
Although this study was performed on children, you might set an alarm around the time you usually sleepwalk and a few hours after you go to sleep to see if it makes a difference in your sleepwalking episodes.
4.) Try Some Medicine.
If you can’t find an underlying medical condition, like periodic leg movements, reflux, seizures, obstructive sleep apnea, or restless legs, you might try some medications that your doctor can recommend. Medications to help with the underlying cause of your sleepwalking can also help control your sleepwalking episodes.
You may be able to stop taking sleepwalking medications after several weeks if you don’t have any problems with sleepwalking. Medications should be considered if other treatments haven’t helped, if you have excessive daytime sleepiness, or a lot of disruption to your daily life. They are also helpful if you at risk of injuring yourself.
How to Stop Sleep Talking
1.) Talk to Your Doctor.
If you’re experiencing screaming, being hard to wake during a sleep terror, thrashing, grunting, or acting out your dreams, talk to your doctor as you may be experiencing RBD or sleep terrors. There could be other medical conditions that underlie your sleep talking, so talking with your doctor can help you identify them and then seek proper treatment. You might talk with a sleep specialist who can help you get to the bottom of your sleep talking.
2.) Check Your Medications.
You can review your medications to see if any of them are known to cause talking in your sleep. This is best done with your doctor. Your doctor may be able to adjust the medicines you take or the times of day you take them.
3.) Reduce Your Stress Level.
Emotional stress can play a role in sleep talking. Consider telling people no when they ask you to participate in something that will cause you stress. Practice yoga, deep breathing exercises, or do a hobby that calms you down.
4.) Get more sleep.
While there are no sure fire ways to reduce sleep talking, getting more reset may make you less likely to chatter in your sleep. Go to bed at the same time each night, and get up at the same time each day to keep your biological clock working properly. Avoid alcohol, heavy meals, and caffeine before bed, too.
Alcohol may help you to fall asleep, but it can interrupt sleep patterns. Heavy meals are hard to digest while going to sleep and may keep you awake. Caffeine will likely make it hard for your body to go to sleep if you have it too close to bed time. Avoid sugary drinks as well, and don’t eat less than four hours before sleeping. Avoid blue light from your phone or computer screens before bed as it can inhibit the levels of melatonin in your body that help you to sleep.
5.) Keep a Sleep Diary.
Write down the times you go to sleep, when you think you fell asleep, and your waking time. Write down when you take your medicines and what they are in the diary as well to help you cross reference instances of sleep talking with taking them, in case there is a link. Also, write down what you eat and drink, especially soda, coffee, alcohol, and tea that have caffeine. Jot down when you exercise and what kind of exercise you do, too.
Being proactive about your sleepwalking and/or sleep talking is the first step to getting them under control. There are several options to help reduce the number of episodes of each that you experience. Most of them involve setting a regular, bedtime routine that you stick with every day. You can also track your sleep habits in a journal and talk to your doctor about medical alternatives that you may not have considered or been aware of as possible treatment options.