These question has most likely appeared at one point or another:
What is sleep talking?
Talking while asleep is a common event that happens at night time.
You most likely have witnessed or heard someone else make a gibberish, muttering, or mumbling type noise that can sound amusing.
There are times when it almost sounds as if they are speaking to someone else.
For the majority of people, sleep talking does not last very long and ends naturally without the aid of any additional treatment.
Let us discover exactly what sleep talking is and the other interesting facts about this sleep disorder. I also have suggested methods if sleep talking is causing issues for you, your partner, or your roommate.
Without further ado, let us find out what makes some people have a one sided conversation.
What Is Sleep Talking?
This video will provide you with a brief summary:
Sleep talking is a sleep disorder that involves a person talking when they are asleep without them being aware of what is happening. The sleep talker can mumble, speak very loudly or speak as if they are having a conversation.
The medical term for sleep talking is known as “somniloquy”. This sleep disorder falls under the parainsomnia category of sleep disorders. Most sleep disorders of this type involve strange behaviors that occur when a person is asleep.
Other parainsomnia sleep disorders include confusional arousals, sleepwalking, nightmares, night terrors, rem sleep behavior disorder, and sleep paralysis.
An interesting thing to take note is that sleep talking can happen along with these other sleep disorders.
How Many People Experience It?
This sleep disorder is believed to be partially genetic and that men are more likely than women to sleep talk. There are not too many studies that have been conducted in order to show how frequently this happens.
Yet, there was a big survey of parainsomnias in adults that was completed in Norway during 2010.
Here are some interesting highlights of the survey:
- 1000 adults participated in the survey.
- 66% stated they have talked in the sleep.
- 17% stated they have snored in the last three months.
The researchers also stated that the results of survey should be clarified with care. However, it would appear that sleep talking is not as rare as once thought.
Approximately 50% of children will experience sleep talking at one point or another. The majority of children will typically grow out of their sleep talking episodes by the time they reach their beginning teenage years.
This sleep disorder is normally harmless for young children. However, if the sleep talking is affiliated with nightmares, other symptoms or is affecting their overall sleep. Then at that point it is considered a problem.
In some cases, sleep talking can continue into a person’s adulthood. Yet, this could be an indicator of another hidden medical condition that is developing.
Things That People Say During Their Sleep
The content, words and speech patterns are different for every person. For some people, when they sleep talk it can consist of full complete sentences that are perfectly coherent to those who listen.
For others, it can be nothing more than mumbling short little words or phrases.
During 2017, several French researchers published an interesting study on sleep talking.
The researchers enrolled 230 people who possessed sleep disorders that are known to entail sleep talking. The people stayed for two nights inside a sleep laboratory, where they recorded the contents of the people who talk in their sleep.
The researchers discovered some very interesting things such as:
- Men on average sleep talk more than women do and used more inappropriate language.
- At the time that people formed sentences, they were spoken accurately.
- 59% of the sleep talking was nonverbal and included patterns such as laughter, whispering, mumbling, or yelling.
- 9.7% of the words spoken were profanities.
- Denials made up 21% of the spoken moments.
- The most prevalent word that was spoken is no.
Interestingly enough, they concluded that sleep talking frequently entails some element of conflict.
Who would of thought?
What If I Said Something That I Did Not Intent To?
This was one of my experiences:
When I was back in college I had an old classmate named Sarah. She shared with me her experience with sleep talking and mentioned that her boyfriend was disrupting her at night with his sleep talking.
Sarah was awake at this time and overheard her boyfriend insulting her and making rude remarks about she does contribute to their relationship.
It is important to keep in mind that what the person spoke does not always accurately reflect what the person actually thinks or feels when they are conscious.
Need some convincing?
That which is spoken during sleep talking is not valid in court. Even if the sleep talking was recorded and was clearly stated in the recording.
This can be mortifying. Yet, you should speak to your partner about the issue in an open, non judgmental and calm manner.
This way the problem does not escalate any further.
Why Do We Sleep Talk?
To properly answer this question, we first need to look at the various stages of sleep. Throughout the night, we travel through a number of sleep cycles with each cycle possessing the different sleep phases. Each of these phases have fluctuating levels of body and brain activity.
A standard cycle can have a duration of 90 to 120 minutes and we can go through a multitude of different stages that include:
- Light sleep.
- Deep sleep.
- Transitioning back to light sleep once more.
- REM sleep.
As we progress through the night, the number and order of each stage of sleep can shift.
For example, you will typically obtain more deep sleep in the beginning third of the night and have more rapid eye movement (REM) sleep later in the night.
There are two primary theories that explain why people sleep talk and are founded on which moment it happens during the sleep cycle:
The Dream BreakThrough
Ocassionally, sleep talking happens during the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep stage, which is the point where you typically will have your dreams.
A number of scientists propose that the portion of your brain that controls speech somehow turns itself on and that you will replicate what is spoken or happening in your dream at the particular point in time.
In any case, a fundemental rule applies for both theories:
A portion of your brain is turned on while the remainder of your body is turned off.
During Transitions Between Stages of Sleep
When you move from one sleep stage to the next, you occasionally will have a small awakening. The awakening can either be partial or complete.
In this brief moment, the portion of your brain that controls speech can occasionally become more active. Yet, the other portions of your brain can transition into a new phase such as the deep sleep stage.
During this transition you can potentially speak or do something. Yet, you will have no awareness of your actions due to the fact the conscious portion your brain is not really conscious at all.
Factors That Escalate Sleep Talking
Continuing with the two theories that the researchers proposed. There are a number of factors which can increase the likelihood that you will talk in your sleep such as:
- Sleeping in a different environment or if a child is moved while they are asleep. In both of these instances, the brain can become more observant.
- Certain types of medication, recreational drugs or alcohol.
- Certain mental health issues.
- Being sleep deprived.
- Stress, depression and anxiety.
Possibility Of A Different Sleep Disorder
There are other various sleep disorders which can be affiliated with sleep talking. These sleep disorders can occur at the same time when sleep talking happens or potentially is the cause of sleep talking.
Confusional arousals also referred to as “sleep drunkenness”. This sleep disorder can happen in children and adults. Most people usually wake up in the middle of the night in a state of confusion. Behaviors displayed here are either having a short incoherent conversation with others or moving around in a uncontrolled manner.
Both children and adults can experience nightmares. This sleep disorder can also be the source of why somebody would scream or speak nonsense while they are asleep. Nightmares and night terrors can be scary and stressful experiences.
Those who have cathathrenia also referred to as “nocturnal groaning” will produce a very loud groaning sound while they are sleeping. The growling sounds can be unsettling. Most time the person who makes the noise is not aware that they are doing so.
REM Sleep Behavior Disorder
REM sleep behavior disorder involves a person being an actor of their own dreams. These actions can include actions such as jerking, shuffling around in bed, yelling, and screaming.
There can be times when somebody who has RSBD can also talk in their sleep as well.
Seek Medical Advice
If you are displaying symptoms of various sleep disorders that are listed above. I recommend that you seek advice from a doctor or medical professional.
In the case, that you are jerking or moving in a hasty manner, waking up feeling afraid, or shouting in your sleep. Those behaviors or feelings could be an indicator that you are experiencing another sleep disorder.
If you have any breathing issues while you are asleep, it is imperative that you obtain medical advice in order to eliminate the possibility that you might snore or have a more serious sleep disorder such as sleep apnea.
If the symptoms begin while in adulthood you should speak to your physician. Even more so in the case that the symptoms lasts for more than a few days.
You should also discover that if any of the medication that you are currently taking could be the source of your monologues at night.
Periodically, it is helpful to speak to a counselor or therapist. They will help you work through anything that is disrupting your mental health and causing you to feel stress and anxiety.
Practice Proper Sleep Habits
It will be benefit you to practice these excellent sleep habits:
Sleep habits for children:
- Do not allow them to view any frightening movies.
- Do not let them participate in any scary or stressful activities at night.
- Provide them with a structured bed time routine.
- Ensure that they sleep in the same bed every night. (This will condition them to go back to the same area every night)
- Ensure that your children obtain a sufficient amount of sleep.
Sleep habits for adults:
- Perform relaxing exercises at night.
- Maintain a consistent sleep schedule everyday of the week.
- Work through anything in your life that is causing you stress.
- Do not use electronic devices close to your bedtime.
- Eat the right types of foods.
Methods To Blocking Out Noise
If a person’s sleep talking is disruptive. There are ways to manage and this is done by blocking out the noise.
Logically speaking, that option may not always be suitable especially if you need to keep an ear out for children.
However, if you do not have the responsibility of raising children then that can be an instant solution for the disrupted party. These are methods to help block out noise:
- Try sleeping in another bedroom when the noise is very loud.
- Try using a white noise machine.
- Use earplugs while you are lying in bed.
- Listen to music while wearing earphones or headphones.
Keep A Record Of Your Sleep Activities
It is helpful to keep a record of any type of foods and drinks that you consumed as well as any activities that you participated in on the nights that you were sleep talking. This will help you keep track of these factors that might have caused your sleep talking.
You will need your partner or roommate’s assistance to inform you the time that you disrupted them by speaking or yelling while your were asleep.
If you prefer the more electronic route, there is an application that was designed to record sleep talking and it is known as the “sleep talk recorder app”. This application can be found both in the Android App Store or Apple’s iTunes.
What you do is activate the app before going to sleep. The app will only record noises to a certain sound decibel and there are three levels of sensitivity to choose from low, medium, and high.
The data is displayed in the image below. You can select on one of the bars and press play to listen what was happening throughout the night.
It is apparent from the reviews of this application and other applications that this app has mixed reviews of some people having success and others not fairing so well.
There are other people that use this application just for enjoyment. This application can help you discover what type you sleep talking you do and the amount that you do so.
In the event that you do decide to seek assistance from your physician about the issue. Having a written or electronic record of when you sleep talk will come in handy.
What Is Your Experience?
The majority of the time sleep talking is harmless to others. Some things that people say in their sleep can be hurtful or amusing. Sleep talking is a sleep disorder that I am sure many people have a natural curiosity about.
I knew I had a natural curiosity about this sleep disorder after witnessing a close friend of mind talk about how he wanted to fly instead of driving a car everyday, which I thought was very funny.
Has this ever happened to you?
Have you ever said anything interesting while you were asleep?
Please share your story below in the comments section.
Photo Credit: Pexels, Pixabay and Unsplash