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Sleep Talking: Why we talk in our sleep

If there’s anything more frightening than slurring secrets to a spouse when drunk, it’s got to be revealing them while you’re asleep. Isn’t that scary? When you wake up in the morning and you realize you blabbed a good amount of information you’re not exactly sure about? To many, this can be stressful and embarrassing. After all, it’s not normal for people to be sleep talking, right?

Sleep talking image
Sleep talking is a very common nighttime condition

If you’ve been told you’re a sleep talker yourself, the good news is there isn’t anything to worry about. Things sleep talkers say shouldn’t be accounted for as meaningful inner secrets. The truth is, no data says that that talking in your sleep is a portal into your subconscious.

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Defining sleep talking

Somniloquy, the scientific name for sleep talking, is referred to as a parasomnia, a.k.a all the abnormal things people experience while asleep. The subject of parasomnias also cover the transitions between various sleep phases; meaning this can refer to moments between deep sleep and wakefulness or also between NREM sleep and light sleep. Parasomnias can also vary from interfering with one’s circadian patterns to feeling intense fear stemming from nightmares and night terrors. But sleep talking is generally referred to as normal.

What exactly do we murmur about in our sleep?

People say all kinds of different things when they sleep. A few people can carry a complete conversation with unseen pals, while others limit their words to a gibberish bantering or swearing. Many times, the words people say during their sleep make no sense at all! additionally, experts say that sleep talking a few minutes into one’s slumber is a lot easier to understand compared to the groans people make when they’re in the REM stage of sleep.

Sleep talking is also called somniloquy

Sleep talkers also come in different forms: others whisper while others shout, but both kinds have usually been noted to speak for 30 seconds the longest.

What kind of people sleep talk?

Sleep talking is a pretty common encounter, especially among young children. Studies say that an estimated 50% of children talk while asleep. Similar to sleepwalking and wetting the bed, sleep talking usually rids itself as we age.  

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Furthermore, about 5% of grown-ups talk in their sleep regularly, although many adults smaller than that percentage are said to say something in their sleep once every now and then. While both girls and boys are more likely to sleep talk during childhood, men are said to experience it more compared to women. All these noted it’s safe to say that anyone can still sleep talk.

Why do we even do it in the first place?

Experts aren’t sure why we sleep talk to begin with. It’s possible that it runs in families, but it’s not unlikely for it to be a health disorder, too. There are plenty of things that may trigger one to sleep talk and among them are sleep deprivation, stress, substance abuse, or anxiety. Despite the famous notion that sleep talking reveals what one is brewing up in dreams, further research says that it can occur during any stage of slumber.

Should I consult a doctor if I sleep talk a lot?

As mentioned, sleep talking is mostly normal. But if it comes with physical fear, nightmares, weird body gestures, or sweating, then it’s best to see a sleep specialist. Sleep problems present themselves in a plethora of shapes, and this could just be one of them. Furthermore, other studies state that sleep talking could only be the result of substance abuse, another medical condition, or emotional stress. Other underlying issues could also be the reason why one experiences it in the first place.

If you’re one who sleeps in the presence of other sleepers, be they parents, siblings, or roommates, it helps if you ask help from them in keeping track of these episodes. Establishing great sleep hygiene is often a good solution to maintaining quality rest. Exercising, following a sleep schedule, eating right, meditating, and keeping clean sheets are all key examples one can include in his or her list of things to consider around sleep.

What if I’m not the one sleep talking?

While helping someone else with their sleep taking problems could be helpful, there are also other instances where one’s sleep partner finds it difficult to rest because of the frequency of the sleep talking. It’s possible their sleep partners talk too loud, too much, or weirdly. Although many of these things are subjective, the solution is most often sleeping with silicone earplugs or turning on a fan or TV for some white noise. If that doesn’t cut it, sleeping in another room until the sleep talking subsides can be a consideration.

Are you a sleep talker yourself? What are some things you’ve been told you’ve said during your sleep?

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