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Why Do People Talk In Their Sleep?

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What Causes Sleep Talking?

Do you talk during your sleep? Sleep talking, also known as somniloquy is considered a type of parasomnia, an abnormal behavior that takes place during sleep. Various factors such as stress, depression, alcohol, and sleep deprivation cause sleep talking. Apart from that, genetics and other sleep disorders may induce it. Medically, it is harmless. So, there is nothing to panic about it.

Are you a chit chat person at night? The question is not about your chats during late night parties. But, this is about your talks while you sleep. Surprised? Yes, some people chatter during their sleep. You may not know whether you are a sleep talker or not. Your partner may be able to answer that. Or sometimes, you may have noticed whispers, mumbles, or speeches coming from your partner during the sleep. Well, that is sleep taking.

Understanding Sleep Talking

Understanding Sleep Talking_what causes sleep talking

Sleep talking, also known as somniloquy is considered a type of parasomnia, which is an abnormal behavior that takes place during sleep. Those who talk during sleep are not aware of their behavior. Hence, they sound different from their normal speech. Since it is a result of an unconscious mind, even the court does not admit it as an evidence. Sleep talk usually happens during the REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM (NREM) phases of sleep. REM phase is when you dream and sometimes, you may tend to act out your dreams, resulting in sleep talk. And during the deep stages of NREM sleep, you sound like gibberish.

So, are you curious to know your chances of sleep talking? Yes, you may sleep talk. In fact, anyone can talk while they are asleep. However, it is more common in males and children.1 A survey of 2,022 school going children in the age range of 3 to 10 concluded that about half of the kids sleep talk at least once a year. However, less than 10% do it every night.2 And it typically disappears during adulthood and does not require any intervention.3 Sometimes, sleep talking can occur between two sleepers. They do not recollect any of the conversation when they get up.

Sleep talking from an unconscious mind may not necessarily reveal secrets in its life. If you ever try to decode what your partner or child said during the sleep, you may fail. Most of the time it is difficult to understand. The content may not have any meaning at all. It can be funny or offensive. The person may talk about the past events or experiences. But, chances are high that it may not have anything to do with the reality.

Causes Of Sleep Talking

Causes Of Sleep Talking_Why You Talk In Your Sleep

Many consider sleep talking as part of their dreams. But, various other factors cause it.4

  • External Factors: Stress, depression, alcohol, fever, and sleep deprivation may lead to sleep talking. If you are someone with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chances of sleeping disorders like sleep talking are more.5
  • Genetics: If sleep talking runs in your family, you will also do that. If parents had a habit of sleep talking during their childhood, kids are likely to experience it more.
  • Sleep Disorders: You may talk while sleeping if you suffer from other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, confusion arousals, REM sleep behavior, and nightmares.
  • Mental Illness: In persons over 25 years of age, sleep talking might be associated with mental or medical illness. However, it is not common.
  • Medications: Certain medications could induce sleep talking. The use of montelukast, which is a drug for asthma, may result in the development of parasomnias in the form of sleep talking or sleepwalking.6

Is Sleep Talking Bad

Medically, there is nothing wrong with sleep talking.7 But, there are other factors that may disturb people. It may agitate your sleeping partner. Moreover, it embarrasses the person who has this disorder.

Even though it is normal, if sleep talking happens every night, disturbing your partner’s sleep, then you may seek help. Sometimes the doctor may prescribe medications or suggest changes in your sleep schedule.

References   [ + ]

1. Sleep Talking. National Sleep Foundation.
2. Reimão, Rubens NAA, and Antonio B. Lefévre. “Prevalence of sleep-talking in childhood.” Brain and Development 2, no. 4 (1980): 353-357.
3. El Shakankiry, Hanan M. “Sleep physiology and sleep disorders in childhood.” Nature and science of sleep 3 (2011): 101.
4. Sleep Talking-Causes. Sleep.org
5. Ohayon, Maurice M., and Colin M. Shapiro. “Sleep disturbances and psychiatric disorders associated with posttraumatic stress disorder in the general population.” Comprehensive psychiatry 41, no. 6 (2000): 469-478.
6. Alkhuja, Samer, Natalya Gazizov, and Mary Ellen Alexander. “Sleeptalking! Sleepwalking! Side effects of montelukast.” Case reports in pulmonology 2013 (2013).
7. Sleep Talking: Is it bad? Sleep.org.