In today’s modern society, we often live with other people before moving out on our own. These people could be your friends, family, romantic partner, or spouse. As you’re residing with them, you may notice how they’re full of energy during the day until bedtime comes around and they’re fast asleep from expanding such energy. You may also notice something else while they’re sleeping, aside from their snoring.
It’s the fact they’re muttering unintelligible phrases or cursing at something that isn’t there. If you’re worried, then don’t be. What they’re doing is called sleep talking and this article will provide you with an in-depth look at how it all works.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Exactly Is Sleep Talking?
- 2 What’s Being Said During Sleep Talking?
- 3 What Causes Sleep Talking? Is It Stress or Something More?
- 4 Who Exactly Talks in Their Sleep the Most?
- 5 Which Sleep Stages Would You Sleep Talk?
- 6 When You Should Be Worried About Your Sleep Talking?
- 7 When You Should See A Physician?
- 8 How to Stop It?
- 9 Conclusion
What Exactly Is Sleep Talking?
Sleep Talking, or somniloquy in scientific terms, is simply the act of talking while you’re asleep. According to some researchers, it’s also known as a parasomnia, which is a sleeping disorder that happens during transitional periods of sleep stages. While a parasomnia could be considered as a problem (e.g. night terrors), it’s mostly harmless in the case of sleep talking.
What’s Being Said During Sleep Talking?
Most of the time, sleep talking takes the form of cursing, unintelligible words/phrases (i.e. gibberish), or extremely short conversations with people who aren’t seen. While this may seem worrying to you, it’s actually not. The only time that sleep talking should be a concern is if it shifts to RBD (REM sleep behavior disorder), which we’ll discuss in a bit.
What Causes Sleep Talking? Is It Stress or Something More?
At this point, no one is certain about the root causes of sleep talking. Some researchers state that it’s hereditary, while others claimed it’s linked to a mental disorder, although there aren’t any specifics. Additionally, some researchers have claimed that there are other factors influencing the act of sleep talking. Here is a list of them:
- Substance abuse
- Sleep deprivation
As a side-note, sleep deprivation, in particular, is caused by either stress or another sleeping disorder, such as insomnia or sleep apnea.
There is also a misconception about a person engaging in sleep talking having dreams that reflect their actions, but researchers have discovered through EEG (electroencephalography) recordings that the act of sleep talking happens at any sleeping stage.
Who Exactly Talks in Their Sleep the Most?
Generally speaking, sleep talking is more common in younger children than it is in adults. About 50% of children under the age of 10 experience sleep talking as they do with common childhood issues, such as sleepwalking and wetting the bed. Further research indicates that not only 5% of adult people experience sleep talking as well, but also two-thirds of adults admit to saying something while they sleep.
Which Sleep Stages Would You Sleep Talk?
As previously mentioned, sleep talking occurs at any sleeping stage. This could be the first four stages or even during REM sleep itself. Let’s look at an overview of the stages:
This is the sleeping stage in which you drift in and out of consciousness but can be awakened by anything. It’s worth noting that the eyes move much more slowly and muscle activity decreases. There is also the fact of muscle contractions occurring while experiencing a sensation of falling.
This is when eye movement completely stops, and brain waves slow down, minus the occasional bursts of brain wave activity. This is also the sleeping stage of the body preparing for deep sleep as its temperature drops and its heart rate slows down.
At this stage, your brain emits a combination of delta waves (i.e. slower brain waves) and smaller, more rapid brain waves. During this stage, a person may experience parasomnias, such as sleep talking, sleepwalking, etc., due to the fact they normally occur during the transitional period between non-REM sleep and REM sleep.
This is a continuation of the deep sleep as the brain continues producing more delta waves. It’s important to note that people awakened from this stage may feel disoriented.
This is the final sleeping stage, but it’s different for several reasons. First, your brain waves imitate the ones you experience while you’re awake. Second, your eyes stay closed, but they’re moving from side to side as if you’re experiencing an intense dream.
As previously mentioned, sleep talking isn’t relatively harmful until it shifts into something more dangerous. The next topic will delve into a dangerous sleeping disorder called RBD or also known as REM sleep behavior disorder.
When You Should Be Worried About Your Sleep Talking?
First and foremost, you should be worried about sleep talking if it’s in association with RBD or REM sleep behavior disorder. Clarifying, RBD is a sleeping disorder in which the person violently yells, kicks, and punches while they’re dreaming.
Normally, REM sleep paralyzes the body, so you cannot act out your dreams, but RBD completely removes this paralysis so the affected individual can act out their dreams. The problem with this is the fact they can hurt not only themselves, but their sleeping partners as well.
Another sleeping problem that’s often associated with RBD is called night terrors. Night terrors are when a person wakes up from a sensation to their nervous system, but they experience feelings such as dread, fear, and confusion in combination with a fast heartbeat and sweat.
These elements alone are what make night terrors quite different from nightmares, which are in the same vein as REM sleep since the body’s paralyzed to the point of the person not acting out what they’re experiencing.
Two related sleeping conditions include sleepwalking (somnambulism) and nocturnal sleep related eating disorder. The first is when the sleeping person gets out of bed and walks around the house, sometimes ending up in another room than their own, while the other is when a person eats food as they’re sleeping. Both conditions cause the affected individual to not remember their experiences the next day.
When You Should See A Physician?
You should only see a physician or doctor, if you or your loved ones experience RBD, frequent night terrors, or if your sleep talking gets to a point of constantly interrupting your loved ones’ own sleep schedules. It may not be diagnosed as a sleeping disorder, but your doctor could find out if there are underlying issues, such as substance abuse or stress.
Sleeping partners and parents could also help you, if you’re experiencing frequent nightmares, night terrors, or RBD itself. The one thing they can do is keep a sleeping journal, which tracks when you’re heading to bed, when you sleep talk, and how frequently you wake up while you are sleeping at night.
Aside from tracking your own sleep patterns, there is another thing you can do. You can start by keeping record of your moods, exercise, diet, and your overall intake of substances like caffeine, alcohol, or substances since these factors attribute to sleep talking and other sleeping issues. If you take this approach, then you may want to share with your physician, so it’ll help aid his/her overall diagnosis.
There is also a DIY method to consider. Nowadays, you can find snoring apps, which record the noises you make at night while you are sleeping. Often times, they help diagnose sleep talking by tracking and recording the moment they occur. An example of a smartphone snoring app is “Sleep Talk Recorder”. You can get the app on both Android and iOS.
How to Stop It?
If you are someone who frequently sleep talks, then you may want to consider the following tips. There is no exact way to cure sleep talking, but there are lots of things you can try that may help decrease sleep talking.
Workout During the Day
Light physical activities can help calm down your body and mind. Try jogging for 20 to 30 minutes every day. Schedule these physical activities for the morning or early evening. But do not exercise just before your bed since it can make you feel more awake.
Always try to incorporate stress-decreasing activities. Dr. Schwimmer said, stress can increase both the severity and frequency of sleep talking. So, keep your stress levels low in order to fight sleep talking.
Avoid Alcohol and Drugs
Stay away from alcohol and drugs specially at night since they can disturb your sleep patterns and overall health. Reducing your alcohol consumption is very crucial if you want to control this sleep disorder.
Practice Good Hygiene and Have Enough Sleep
Always practice good hygiene and have plenty of sleep. Remember, sleep talking is often linked to lack of sleep, so it’s recommended to obtain, minimum, 7 hours of sleep every night, and going to bed/waking up at the same time daily. For instance, getting up at 7 am and going to bed at 11 pm should be the same for every day you wake up and sleep.
Create A Cozy Sleeping Environment
Try to keep your bedroom as dark and quiet as possible because it will help you fall asleep easily. If you like having some sort of light, use a tiny LED light rather than a big bright one.
Relax Before Heading to Bed
You can have a nice warm bubble bath, or you can listen to calming music before you go to bed. If you like reading, read a book, which will relax your mind. It can be any activity, which will give you instant relaxation.
Avoid Having Large Meals Before Bed
Avoid eating large meals just before you head to bed because it can interrupt your sleep. You should not eat less than 4-5 hours before your bed time. Also, stay away from sugary drinks at night.
Sleep talking is quite normal to experience, even if you’re an adult. However, it can be considered problematic if it’s linked to sleeping disorders such as sleep deprivation or the aforementioned RBD (REM sleep behavior disorder). If you follow these tips and tricks, you and your loved ones will have a beautiful and restful sleep at night to take on the world the next day.