What Is Sleep Talking? – Having A One Sided Conversation?

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.

Sleep experts do not think of sleep talking as a sleep disorder that can cause any serious danger. Nevertheless, it can disturbing to your partner or roommate which can lead to insomnia.

For the majority of people, sleep talking does not last very long and ends naturally without the aid of any additional treatment.

What is sleep talking?

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:

  1. 1000 adults participated in the survey.
  2. 66% stated they have talked in the sleep.
  3. 17% stated they have snored in the last three months.
Number 3 written in chainlink form.
Number of months people snored for.

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:

  1. Men on average sleep talk more than women do and used more inappropriate language.
  2. At the time that people formed sentences, they were spoken accurately.
  3. 59% of the sleep talking was nonverbal and included patterns such as laughter, whispering, mumbling, or yelling.
  4. 9.7% of the words spoken were profanities.
  5. Denials made up 21% of the spoken moments.
  6. The most prevalent word that was spoken is no.
The word no written in art form.
A word that we hear commonly.

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:

  1. Light sleep.
  2. Deep sleep.
  3. Transitioning back to light sleep once more.
  4. 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.

Brain with thoughts in different areas.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Certain types of medication, recreational drugs or alcohol.
  3. Certain mental health issues.
  4. Being sleep deprived.
  5. Fevers.
  6. Stress, depression and anxiety.
Stress written in colored pencil.
This can be managed.

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

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.

Nightmares

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.

Dark forest with dirt road.

Cathathrenia

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.

Lion groaning.

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.

Medical testing in progress.

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:

  1. Do not allow them to view any frightening movies.
  2. Do not let them participate in any scary or stressful activities at night.
  3. Provide them with a structured bed time routine.
  4. Ensure that they sleep in the same bed every night. (This will condition them to go back to the same area every night)
  5. Ensure that your children obtain a sufficient amount of sleep.
Dark fall scene.
Spooky right!

Sleep habits for adults:

  1. Perform relaxing exercises at night.
  2. Maintain a consistent sleep schedule everyday of the week.
  3. Work through anything in your life that is causing you stress.
  4. Do not use electronic devices close to your bedtime.
  5. 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:

  1. Try sleeping in another bedroom when the noise is very loud.
  2. Try using a white noise machine.
  3. Use earplugs while you are lying in bed.
  4. 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.

Sleep talker application wavelength.

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

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14 Comments on “What Is Sleep Talking? – Having A One Sided Conversation?”

  1. Hello Henry,

    Your welcome and I am glad that you found the article interesting. Actually, there is a good amount of research about sleep talking that has been conducted and most likely much more. These studies are the ones that I found to be the most relevant and ones that will generate some thought in others. The last fact was also one that made me laugh as well. 

    Best regards,
    Kenny Tang

  2. Hello Maria,

    Insomnia is a somewhat common sleep disorder. Between 30 to 35% of all adults experience the sleep disorder. Yes, I can relate to you due to the fact that I have experienced insomnia before as well and know what it feels like to be tired throughout the day. It is no fun at all. If you want to know more about insomnia and sleep paralysis, I have written an article on both of those sleep disorders that you will find useful.

    Insomnia Causes, Symptoms and Treatment – Having A Difficult Time Sleeping?

    Sleep Paralysis Facts – Hallucinations and Demons Immobilizing You?

    Best regards,
    Kenny Tang

  3. Hello Eohia,

    Your welcome and I am glad that I could educate you on this topic. That is very interesting that the environment you grew up viewed sleep talking/walking as a spiritual aspect. This is another aspect of this sleep disorder that is worth pondering over. I agree, sleep talking can be very funny to the person who listens to the sleep talker. I have witnessed a number of accounts myself and it does make me laugh occasionally. 

    Best regards,
    Kenny Tang

  4. Hello Dale,

    That is a very long case of being a sleep talker. Yes, most people will say some very interesting things when they are sleep. In some cases that I have experienced, it can be rather amusing experience. That is great that you have learned to accept sleep talking. It is a sleep disorder that usually does no harm to others.

    Best regards,
    Kenny Tang

  5. Hello Zuchii,

    Anytime and sleep talking is a fairly common sleep disorder. I have witnessed many accounts of sleep talking in my own experience as well. Most people usually grow out of this sleep disorder after they reach a certain point in their lives and it usually does not require any type of treatment. There is mostly likely a connection between the level of activity and how much a person will sleep talk. It is interesting that you sleep talked more on the days when you had a higher level of activity. It takes some time for the body to unwind after a day of activities. So even after you went to sleep, it could be that your brain was in a more active state that it normally would be causing you to sleep talk. 

    Best regards,
    Kenny Tang

  6. Hello Tucker,

    Your welcome and I am glad that you enjoyed the article. I agree this is a very interesting topic. This is a sleep disorder that I have witnessed in others and was always curious as to why it happened. Yes, the speech patterns can vary greatly. There was a time that I witnessed a friend of mine who spoke in short words. That sure made me laugh. I believe the significance of that fact is that some people are naturally defensive when they are awake. That personality trait could be present when they go sleep as well. This can cause them to deny any accusations that are made when they are possibly having a dream. There are many factors that can be considered as well.

    Best regards,
    Kenny Tang

  7. Hello Nuttanee, 

    Your welcome and I am glad that I was able to help you out. I have experienced the very same and I can relate very well. Yes, you are right a person can develop other health conditions if they do not get enough sleep everyday. Sleep is a very important aspect of overall health that is sometimes underrated. Many people place exercise, nutrition and productivity above sleep in an attempt to do more in a day. Trying to do too much and neglecting to get enough sleep can have negative effects. All of these factors work together as one so that you can function properly. You make a valid point, the body does indeed repair itself when you are asleep. If you are feeling stressed. The good news is that I have written an article on relaxation techniques for sleep that can help you out. Reducing your stress levels will help slow the teeth grinding action at night. I also had a case of teeth grinding when I was younger and I found out it was caused by stress as well. 

    5 Relaxation Techniques For Sleep: Quieting Your Overactive Mind

    Best regards,
    Kenny Tang

  8. Hello Kenny! 

    Thank you very much for this very interesting read. There are so many things I did not know about sleep talking.

    The results you state here that were obtained in Norway and by the French researchers are interesting. I am also a bit surprised that up to this point there has not been much research on the subject. 

    I found it amusing that that sleep talking cannot be used in court.

  9. Hi Kenny, 

    I am one of those people with insomnia. I have been for many many years and tried a lot to solve it. I am good sometimes, but most of the time I sleep between 3 to 4 hours daily and only at night. 

    I experienced sleep paralysis a few times and it was really terrifying. After I found the explanation of this, I have not had another episode. I bookmarked your website to know more about insomnia.

  10. Growing up in the environment I lived in. Sleep talking and sleep walking was seen as something spiritual (these people had a way of always relating anything to the devil). I never attached any serious meaning to it either medical or spiritual. I always laughed it away because it felt funny at times listening to the sleep talker. Thanks for the enlightenment.

  11. What a great article. I can relate as my wife has been a sleep talker for as long as we have been together, which is well over 30 years.

    I am not going to lie she has said some things that could even sound hurtful, but in the same breath she has said many things that could be flattering. Of course there are times when she says things that just make no sense at all.

    At the end of the day its just a part of life for us now. It does not happen every night but does seem to intensify whenever she is really tired and sleeping hard.

    Once again this was a great article with a lot of great information.

    Dale

  12. Thanks for taking out time to write a detailed article on this topic of sleep talking. I always had an episode as a child and up until my teenage years. Just as you rightly said it did not require any treatment or medication before it stopped.

    During those years of sleep talking, I noticed that it only occurred on the nights when I had so much activity during the day. On the mild days, there was no sleep talking.

  13. This was a really interesting read. Thanks for that! I have been told that I have spoken in my sleep in the past, although I cannot recall whether the people who told me I did said I was speaking in full sentences or just undecipherable mumbles. I really liked the stats that you included in this article, particularly the fact that 21% of spoken moments were denials. What do you think is the significance of that?

  14. Good for you Kenny! You suffered with insomnia, you decided to do something about it and help others as well. Salute to you! I myself suffer from insomnia. I will sleep about 4 hours everyday. However, when I reach about the 6th day of my week or the weekends. I crash and will sleep for about 10 hours. The number is horrible. I read some articles online that I can easily develop many diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes. Do you know that the only time that your body can repair itself is when you sleep? The good news is that I do not sleepwalk, but I do grind my teeth. It is so bad to the point that I will take my night guard off and keep on grinding them. I have six root canals now just because of grinding my teeth. I thought it was because of the sweets I eat, but when I think of it I do not eat that much plus I brush my teeth religiously and floss. Until my dentist told me that it is because of my grinding and it messes up my teeth. To whoever reads my comment, hope you all aware of it and get your stress in control. 

    I still do grind my teeth from time to time but not as much. I work out as much as I can so I get too tired and will pass out. This trick works for me and I hope it works for everyone else too!

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