September 12, 2017
Of all the sleep disorders out there, sleep talking is one of the most fascinating. Some people give whole speeches in their sleep, and may not sound like themselves when doing it. You might not even know you’re doing it if you don’t have a partner, roommate or friend to alert you to the issue. If you do talk in your sleep, is there anything worth worrying about? Here’s what you should know.
Sleep talking is pretty easy to diagnose: If you mumble, moan or chat with “others “while you’re asleep — meaning that you have no idea you’re doing it — you’re sleep talking. It usually lasts only for a few moments, but some people experience extended episodes. Sleep talking is only considered to be severe if it happens every night and if it disturbs your partner’s sleep. Most of the time, it’s harmless.
Sleep talking might be caused by dreams, and it’s often associated with night terrors that cause people to shout in their sleep, sometimes waking themselves up. Shouting can also occur during REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD). Sleep talking can also be caused by certain medications, stress, illness and substance abuse. However, sleep talking often occurs on its own, and isn’t a sign of any larger problem. Sleep talking is generally only a concern if it comes with violent physical motions or interruptds someone’s sleep — yours or your roommate’s.
If you decide that your sleep talking should be treated, a doctor will work with you to diagnose any underlying health or sleep disorders that could be related to the your nighttime chatter. Sleep talking itself can’t really be treated or prevented, but if yours is caused by another health issue, your doctor will work to solve that problem instead. Practicing good sleep hygiene is the best way to reduce the likelihood of talking in your sleep, so strive to maintain regular bedtimes and avoid heavy meals, caffeine and alcohol around bedtime. If stress is a trigger for you, try meditating before bedtime and avoiding email or the news a few hours before you’re ready to drift off.
As for partners or roommates who complain about your sleep talking, you might want to treat them to some ear plugs or a white noise machine as a gesture of goodwill. Other than that, let them know you’re doing your best to work on the problem, and that you have no idea what you’re saying when you’re snoozing. Scientists have found no connection at all between what people say in their sleep and reality, so there’s no need to worry that you’re going to spill your darkest secrets while you’re unconscious. Your sleep talking will never hold up in a court of law, so ask your family and friends to cut you some slack if you say something unusual or off-color in the wee hours.
What you say in your sleep can feel surprising, hilarious or even embarrassing, but sleep talking isn’t usually cause for much alarm. As long as you’re not suffering from losing shut-eye while you ramble on at night, sleep talking is just one of those things that affect some people more than others. Cultivating a sense of humor about your sleepy soliloquy is probably the best way to smooth things over the next morning.