Somniloquy, or more commonly referred to as sleep talking, is a sleep disorder that involves unconscious talking during sleep.
Sleep talking varies in its content and presentation, and it can range from mumbling, gibberish, and nonsensical words to full-on, complicated, and coherent conversations.
In any case, sleep talking typically lasts no more than 30 seconds per episode; however, some people sleep talk many times during one night.
Sleep talking can be spontaneous, but it may also be induced by someone that talks to sleep-talkers while they are asleep.
This nocturnal language can even sound different from their wakeful speaking voice, and there have been reports of people speaking an entirely different language during their nightly episodes.
In any case, sleep talking is a curiosity-inducing condition; therefore, in this article, we will let you in on ten reasons why people talk in their sleep.
Symptoms of Sleep Talking
Sleep talking is defined by both stages and severity:
- Stages 1 and 2: In these stages, the sleep talker isn’t in as deep of sleep and their speech is easier to understand. Sleep talkers in stages 1 or 2 can have entire conversations that make sense.
- Stages 3 and 4: The sleep talker is in a deeper sleep, and their speech is usually harder to understand. It may sound like moaning or gibberish.
Sleep talk severity is determined by how frequently it occurs:
- Mild: Sleep talk happens less than once a month.
- Moderate: Sleep talk occurs once a week, but not every night. The talking doesn’t interfere much with the sleep of other people in the room.
- Severe: Sleep talking happens every night and may interfere with the sleep of other people in the room. This is the stage where it is advisable to seek professional help.
Besides this classification, if talking in your sleep isn’t causing you or other people in the room discomfort or a reason to worry, seeking professional help is entirely up to you.
10 Reasons Why People Talk In Their Sleep
Sleep talking is much more common in children than in adults, who tend to grow out of it eventually. However, many of us still sleep talk well into adulthood, and the reasoning could be connected to our emotional state of mind.
1. Sleep Talking May Run In The Family
Roughly 67% of adults talk in their sleep and almost everyone has had at least an episode where they say some gibberish or even a coherent sentence while in deep sleep.
This “disorder” may often run in families and tends to be more common among men.
There isn’t enough data to support this and pretty much anyone can talk in their sleep, therefore, it is more accurate to say that external factors are a stronger force than genetics when it comes to sleep talking.
2. Stress and Anxiety
These two together are the biggest factors that induce sleep talking in adults.
Those with irregular bedtime patterns are more likely to talk during unconsciousness because this is one of the biggest stressors for the organism.
It could be the brain is having trouble shutting down for the night, which disrupts the sleep cycle, or it might be the subconscious mind working overtime, trying to figure out a solution to a pressing problem.
The same goes for anxiety. When you tend to worry about something for a prolonged period of time, this creates anxiety and the brain is having a hard time letting go even while you sleep.
People that are under a lot of stress and are experiencing anxiety during their waking hours, tend to have a higher chance to talk in their sleep.
3. Excessive Alcohol Consumption or Substance Abuse
Alcohol is a diuretic and it encourages the body to release fluids, which means it can make you lose plenty of water from the body quite rapidly.
This leaves you dehydrated and with the constant urge to use the bathroom, which can disrupt your sleep, especially in the early hours of the morning when you are in the lighter REM stages.
Alcohol also increases your heart rate, leading you to sweat more and pretty much be uncomfortable in bed, which then leads to tossing and turning.
This frustrating state may very well cause you to sleep talk and even sleepwalk in some more extreme cases.
On the other hand, some substances can lower sleep quality by suppressing REM sleep. This may lead to daytime drowsiness, which can also disrupt your sleep patterns.
And what happens when you disrupt your sleep patterns? Sleep talking is definitely a possible occurrence.
4. Depression or Other Mental Health Concerns
Depression, much like stress and anxiety can contribute to an irregular sleep pattern, which is something that stresses out the organism and can cause sleep talking among other things.
However, the relationship between sleep and depressive illness is more complex than that as in some cases depression may cause sleep problems and in other cases – sleep problems can cause depression.
For some people, symptoms of depression occur before the onset of sleep problems while for others, sleep problems appear first.
In any case, if you exhibit signs of depression and you suspect this is what’s causing you to sleep talk, it is always a good idea to seek professional help.
5. Prolonged Sleep Deprivation
Prolonged sleep deprivation can be another reason for sleep talking as well as some more serious conditions such as hypertension, depression, anxiety, memory loss, immune system deficiency, impaired brain function.
6. Fever or Other Illness
Fever can often make you delirious and the state of delirium is what influences behavioral changes. Some incidents show people talking in their sleep in an entirely different language during this state.
In other words – people don’t act like themselves during the state of delirium caused by fever. Luckily, this is just a temporary state that should go away once the fever slows down.
7. Use of Technology Before Bed
Sleep talking can be linked to the nervous system being overstimulated by the excessive use of technology before bed.
Oftentimes, people tend to sleeptalk about things they have seen while scrolling on social media right before bed.
More often, these things tend to get a little “changed” during our sleep, so if you went to bed right after sending a risky text, you may end up dreaming about this or even talking about it in your sleep.
8. Consuming Too Much Caffeine
Another case of overstimulating the nervous system is the excessive consumption of caffeine.
If you rely on many coffee or energy drinks during the day, chances are that you may fall into an irregular sleep pattern.
And because your brain is probably running wild on caffeine, you have a higher chance of talking in your sleep simply because your brain is having difficulty switching off.
9. Uncomfortable Sleeping Positions
Although a significantly lighter concern than the ones we mentioned above, uncomfortable sleeping positions may lead to talking in your sleep.
The constant tossing and turning may result in a state of frustration and, well, you may end up talking about this in your sleep, cause that’s what the brain does when stressed.
10. Uncomfortable Mattress and Pillows
Sleeping on an uncomfortable mattress and pillows can be a cause of concern because this often contributes to sleep-deprivation and frustration.
Mattresses and pillows are very important to the quality of your sleep at night and they provide different, beneficial functions.
A good pillow will support your head and neck, reducing the strain you feel throughout the night and lowering your chances of chronic soreness or pain.
A good mattress, on the other hand, is designed to support your entire body and provide it with enough softness to feel comfortable.
Having a bad mattress could manifest across your entire body, making you feel achy all over, reducing your ability to find a comfortable position, and just giving you a bad night’s sleep of tossing, turning, and perhaps even voicing your frustration while sleeping.
Can Sleep Talking Reveal Secrets?
Sleep talking is an interesting occurrence and there is definitely more to it than we currently know, however, can sleep talking cause criminals to confess their crimes or adulterers to confess their affairs?
Put simply, the answer is no.
Former director of Loughborough University’s sleep research center, Professor Jim Horne, doesn’t believe we should pay too much attention to what people say in their sleep.
Horne says: “Sleep talking tends to occur in very light sleep. You go from a light to deep sleep, and after about 70-90 minutes, you go into a period of dreaming sleep, which re-occurs about every 90 minutes.”
Horne says sleep talking doesn’t reflect what we’re dreaming but is instead related to light sleep when “the mind is meandering and ruminating. It’s really the ramblings of a rather befuddled mind.”
How Do You Cure Sleep Talking?
Most of the time, sleep talks are not harmful and require no treatment. There is no way to stop sleep talking definitively.
However, avoiding stress, getting plenty of sleep, and avoiding other potential causes mentioned on this list can reduce incidences of sleep talking.
Be sure to consult with your doctor if you or a loved one is experiencing concerning behavior associated with sleep talking, something like depression, or other more serious mental concerns.
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