In the fictional world, anything said by the characters while sleeping, is usually the same as depicted, they are intelligent and meaningful. But, in real life, sleep talk is mostly impossible to read or nonsensical (just like vampires and werewolves).
Sleep talking happens outside our conscious awareness like when aspects of restlessness encroach upon our state of being asleep; it prevents us from actually making any sense. This basically happens because our mind is meandering and pondering around.
“It’s really the ramblings of a rather befuddled mind, ”Professor Jim Horne, former director of Loughborough University’s Sleep Research Centre, told The Guardian. But, what makes it happen?
Although the researchers call it somniloquy but aren’t sure if this phenomenon is linked to dreams. According to them, sleep talking tends to occur during light sleep, a state characterized by the heart rate slowing and the body temperature dropping, as we prepare for a deeper sleep.
According to Dr. Naazneen Ladak, a Psychiatrist at AXIS Hospital, Mumbai, Sleep talking is also called somniloquy. It is a very common occurrence and not usually a medical condition. Generally, a sleep talker speaks not more than 30 seconds per episode. It usually involves simple sound or long speeches. They usually talk to themselves or talk to others as if they are carrying on a conversation with them and sleep.”
She said, “It is commonly seen in children 3-10 years of age. However, about 5% of adults also talk in sleep. Sleep talkers do not recall what they talk about in sleep. Unless someone points it out to them.”
“In some cases, sleep talking is associated with emotional stress stature abuse and mental health disorder. In a few of them, it is accompanied by sleep terror which may cause one to shout during sleep. Sometimes, sleep talking is also associated with sleepwalking,” she added.
It is always better to get evaluated by a psychiatrist and sleep specialist to know other causes of sleep talking.
What are the causes of sleep talking?
According to researchers, it can also occur during the rapid eye movement (REM) cycle of sleep, too, which is a deeper stage of sleep that demonstrates the brain that it is not completely ‘switched off’ during sleep.
Sleep talking during the REM sleep cycle takes place when the brain momentarily fails to paralyze the body’s muscles. Mouth and vocal cords, usually inactive in this stage, briefly get switched on. It may also occur whenever we are half awake while transitioning from one stage of non-REM sleep to another.
However, it is very difficult to estimate how common sleep talking is.
There are some other causes of sleep talking like:
- Certain medications
- Emotional stress
- Mental health disorder
- Substance abuse
According to a 2018 study from Norway, 66.8% of people report having sleep talked in their lifetime. Some children also may experience this more often than the adults, as the brain’s ability to regularly regulate sleep and wake cycles develop faster than adults.
It is pretty hard to tell if you have been talking in your sleep but generally, people will tell you they’ve heard you shout out during the night or while napping.
How can someone reduce his or her amount of sleep talking?
There is no dedicated way to reduce sleep talking, but you can try avoiding stress and should start getting plenty of sleep which might make you less likely to talk in your sleep.
- You can keep a sleep diary that can help to identify your sleep patterns and may help your doctor find out if an underlying problem is causing your sleep talking.
- Keep a sleep diary for two weeks.
- Note the times you go to bed, when you think you fell asleep, and when you woke up. You’ll also want to write down the following:
- the medicines you take, and the time of day you take them
- what you drink each day and when, especially caffeinated drinks such as cola, tea, and coffee, as well as alcohol
- when you exercise.