We believe that facing a fact you are a sleep talker isn’t pleasant at all. If anybody told you at some point in the past that you were mumbling something during the night, without even being aware of it, you probably freaked out and started wondering what is it that you blabbed out loud. Even those who do not keep secrets from their partner would probably start panicking and wondering if they said things they shouldn’t.
But you can relax and stop worrying about it. Talking in your sleep isn’t something you should be ashamed of. Okay, it may cause some uncomfortable scenes, but there’s nothing wrong with you. Many people are talking while sleeping, and experts say that those statements are not relevant to the reality and the truth. There are no proofs that words you pronounced while sleeping are extracting anything from your subconscious or that they actually can lead to something tangible and related to your real life.
What is Sleep Talking?
Just like you wonder why do people yawn, you must be asking yourself why do people talk in their sleep, or at least, why do I talk in my sleep. Sleep talking, or somniloquy, is a type of sleep disorder. It’s in the same category as sleepwalking, teeth grinding, sex while asleep, and night terrors. Everything mentioned is called parasomnia, and it usually occurs during the transitional phase between different stages of sleep, including the moment you slide from light sleep to REM.
People can talk about many things while being asleep. Sometimes you will hear only fragments, whispering, groaning, other times there might be screaming in sleep or swearing, and on some third occasion, you can hear a whole conversation. The important thing to remember is that the person who is asleep cannot be judged by that because it’s an unconscious doing.
Sleep talking is most common among young children who are between three and ten years old. Research shows that 50 percent of them will experience this disorder for sure, and if a parent had that habit in early life, it’s most likely children will inherit it.
What Causes Sleep Talking?
The most honest answer is, we don’t know. Scientists are not quite sure what triggers these episodes, but they claim that it may be in our genetic, caused by stress, medication, substance abuse, sleep deprivation, fever, and a couple of more things. What’s interesting is that the talking part lasts up to 30 seconds top, and as one study showed, the most common word when it comes to sleep talking is no.
The general belief that conversations during sleep are connected with the dream person is having is proven to be wrong. EEG recordings have shown that sleep talking can happen during any stage of sleep, not just the one when we are dreaming. Now, although we said that talking while sleeping per se is nothing to be worried about, here are some cases that can point to the existence of the problem.
REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD)
Most people have their brains paralyze their muscles during the REM phase of sleep, which prevents them from acting on their dreams and start kicking or punching people around, for example. But those who have RBD do not have this barrier, they do not experience this paralysis, which puts them at the risk of harming their sleep partner or themselves.
Anxiety and Depression
Depression, as well as anxiety, are proven to be linked to many sleeping disorders, including this one. Since this subject is an under-explored territory, not everything is investigated and explained to the slightest details. But, one reason this is happening is that people with these problems cannot go into the deep phase of sleep.
If you don’t get enough sleep, you can be exposed to experiencing the somniloquy. Scientists say that those individuals will most likely have trouble passing from one phase of sleep to another, which increases the possibility of having some kind of “conversation” while being unconscious.
Day-time drowsiness can be one of the consequences of some sleep disorders. It may happen you wake up tired and feel extremely sleepy during the entire day, even though you slept alright previous night or that you suddenly fall asleep while being engaged in some activity. Those are perfect scenarios for sleep talking episodes, just so you know.
The specific drowsiness you may feel after a couple of drinks can lead to falling asleep very quickly, much faster than natural. But when alcohol starts to wear off, you might start waking up a few times, and then you might become more chatty than usual.
It’s very common to have an episode of sleep talking while you are fighting the high temperature because both your brain and your body are exhausted. They are using all energy to help their immune system build-up, so accidents like mumbling something while being unconscious are quite understandable.
When you dream about something that scares you profoundly or something that’s extremely unpleasant, your whole body, including your brain, is under a significant amount of stress. As part of the emotional response to that, you may start talking or even yelling in sleep.
There are drugs that will slow your entire system down, and then those that will make you wide awake and super sensitive. Both of them will disrupt your sleep schedule and have artificial effects on your body, so talking while sleeping could happen at some point.
Some research showed that there is a genetic predisposition to this disorder. If you had this experience of talking in sleep when you were younger, it’s most likely that your children will have these undesirable episodes as well, sometimes during their lives. That will probably happen until they become teenagers.
Mental Health Disorder
There is a firm connection between mental health disorders and sleep disorders, which have been proven many times in practice. But scientists cannot yet tell if the mental health problems lead to this night chats, or if the fact you have a sleeping disorder can make mental problems even more challenging.
Nocturnal Sleep-Related Eating Disorder
If you find some member of your family sleepwalking in the kitchen and eating everything they find in front of them, they might have a nocturnal sleep-related eating disorder. It’s even possible they will prepare the whole meal and not remember doing it tomorrow morning. Also, talking the entire time is happening quite often.
How to Stop Sleep Talking?
If you are desperate and searching for an answer on how to stop talking in your sleep, here are some suggestions:
If you are one of those people who are not managing stress well, you will probably have problems sleeping. That means your body won’t be able to relax fully, and your brain might find it hard to go from one to another sleep phase. And that’s when the talking starts.
Create sleep habits
Quality mattresses for a good night’s rest and new habits before bed might be the thing you need. In order to prepare yourself for deep and good quality sleep, make sure not to use electronics two hours before bed, to read, do yoga, or have a warm shower, for example.
Keep sleep diary
You will need to ask your sleeping partner to help you with this. They have to tell you when you were talking, and then you need to think about everything you did that day – when did you go to bed, how long you were trying to fall asleep, what did you eat and drink previously, etc.
When Should You See a Doctor?
If we are talking about your child who started to have these episodes, and they are followed by sweating, fear, and nightmares, you should probably visit the specialists right away. Just so they can see if there is some problem behind it, or it’s just a usual and harmless phase in their growing up experience.
But if we are talking about you as an adult, and you suddenly started talking at night, or it happens that what once was a rare habit turned into a quite frequent one, definitely go and consult with the doctor. Even if you do not have some kind of sleep disorder, they might tell you why this is happening, do you have a reaction to emotional stress or substance abuse.
The doctor will probably suggest you start writing your own sleep diary, which can be, as we previously mentioned, a very helpful tool that will lead to resolving this problem. You will, however, have to ask your partner, friend, or parent, a person you live with, to pay attention when these episodes start, how long do they last, and how often they occur. Then it’s up to you to do the work, to keep track of your mood, nutrition, exercise habits, etc.
There is also an app you can install on your smartphone, the one that can record all your sounds during the night. If you use it, you will also be in a position to hear what you were saying, and maybe make some conclusions based on that.
It’s pretty hard to understand that words coming out of the mouth of the person that’s lying right next to us are not verbalization of their dreams or sub-conscience, that they don’t actually mean anything. But that’s the truth, and you should not make them feel uncomfortable because of that. Our brain is an uncharted territory full of surprises, and who knows, maybe someday we manage to find out more about what’s happening when we are talking while sleeping. But for now, you have to be satisfied with these answers.
If you have a problem with it, in a way that your partner keeps you awake with this night time chit-chatting, you can try a couple of things in order to maintain good rest. Invest in noise-reducing products, put on earplugs, or get a super comfortable and quieter mattress such as hybrid bed, the one with great motion isolation so that restless partner doesn’t wake you up easily.