Why Do Some People Talk in Their Sleep?

Have you ever had anyone tell you that you talk or whisper in your sleep? Perhaps it was at a sleepover when you were a child. Perhaps it has carried over into your adult life with yourself, your spouse, or your own child. When we talk in our sleep, we usually have no recollection of it at all. This is why it can be hard to believe or frightening that we are doing something we’re unaware of. Some people can even have long conversations with themselves, laugh out loud, or mumble words lightly. Most of the time, it’s never quite the same. But why do some people sleep talk in their sleep and others do not? Below, we dive into the science and psychology behind sleep talking to explain this mystery.

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Is Talking in Your Sleep Normal?

Sleep talking has been reported in 50% of children and 5% of adults. Talking in your sleep actually has a scientific name: somniloquy. Somniloquy is categorized as a type of parasomnia, a behavior that occurs during sleep that is classified as abnormal. Sleep talking is actually more common than people think and isn’t a huge cause for concern. However, if it’s happening consistently to you, your spouse, or your child, you may want to look into the issue. First of all, habitual sleeping talking may be disturbing yours or others sleep cycle. Secondly, talking in your sleep consistently may be an indicator of more serious matters, such as a sleeping disorder.

For the most part, sleep talking occurs for people every once in a while. Talking in your sleep can be characterized by:

  • Short snippets that last no longer than a few seconds
  • Mumbled words or noises
  • Clear concise words with emphasis
  • Long conversations with an illusioned “other” in their dreams.

Who is Most Likely to Talk in Their Sleep?

Most children between the ages of 3 to 10 are susceptible to talking in their sleep. Kids are also more likely to sleep talk more in a night than adults who sleep talk, having whole conversations. A study conducted shows that “only about 5% of adults regularly talk in their sleep, although two-thirds of adults say something in their sleep at least once every few months.”

What Causes Sleep Talking?

So, why do some people talk in their sleep? Researches of sleep talking have found no real rhyme or reason for why some of us talk in our sleep and others do not. However, they have found some situations where sleep talking seems to occur more, for example with an increase of stress, sleep deprivation, substance abuse, and certain medications.

Another instance in which sleep talking occurs more often is when a sleep disorder is present. Sleep terrors and REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) are two most commonly known to increase talking in your sleep. Sleep terrors or night terrors involve a person “waking” abruptly from a terrified state. They are not actually fully awake and it can be difficult to wake them or get them to communicate. Usually, the person will lie back down and fall right back to sleep but have no recollection of this occurrence in the morning.

RBD is a situation where a person is actually acting our their violent dream through kicking, screaming, and moving their limbs around in bed. The difference between night terrors and RBD is that a person experiencing RBD can be woken up and actually recall their disturbing dream.

If either of these sleep disorders is occurring frequently, it may be a sign of a psychological disorder and should be looked into by a professional. While sleep talking can occur for many people, an obsessive amount may be pointing to a larger problem. If this is the case for you, do not hesitate to seek out a professional sleep doctor to properly assess your sleep patterns. After diagnosing the problem, which could be as simple as stress or emotional overload, your doctor can provide you with the right tools to get back to a healthy night’s sleep. Schedule a complimentary one-on-one call today with Sleep MD.

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