# Why do people talk in sleep?

Why do people talk in sleep?

Somniloquy is the name given to the sleep abnormality of talking in your sleep. For some unknown reason, some people will snooze comfortably and quietly, whereas others will speak gibberish, words, sentences, or entire speeches whilst sawing their logs.

Understanding somniloquy involves understanding a bit about sleep first.

As you fall asleep, your brain’s reticular activating system (RAS) hands control over to the ventrolateral preoptic nucleus (VLPO) for sleepytime.

During that transition is when you twitch.

Once asleep, the brain goes through a predictable set of four stages (one of those is the famous Rapid Eye Movement, or REM sleep, where dreaming happens).

During sleep, your brain squirts out two paralyzing chemicals glycine and GABA.

These keep your vocal cords (and mouth, body muscles, and such) paralyzed.

Why do people talk in sleep?

Okay, so…

scientists don’t have any idea why some people talk in their sleep.

Sleep talking can occur at any time during REM or non-REM sleep; which means it’s not necessarily when we voice a dream, it can be anytime!

Scientists think sometimes, people might slip through their own paralyzing net of glycine and GABA and end up voicing what’s happening inside their head; called a “motor breakthrough.”

Or maybe it’s because of “transitory arousal,” which is when we switch between sleep stages.

It’s related to sleepwalking and night terrors and about half of all children and five percent of adults will talk in their sleep;

and it’s more common among men than women — though sleep researchers don’t know why.

  • Sometimes sleep talking is just a few words
  • sometimes it’s 30 seconds or more and it’s hardly ever sensical
  • Sometimes sleep talkers are sweet
  • sometimes they’re explicit
  • sometimes they whisper
  • sometimes they shout
  • and that’s where it can turn into a problem for those sharing a bedroom with others

Why do people talk in sleep?

A study of over 2000 schoolchildren published in the journal Brain and Development found only 10 percent of children will sleep talk every night, but 50 percent will do so once a year.

According to another study in Pediatrics, by age 13 most childhood sleep abnormalities declined, but not somniloquy!

The problem with most sleep studies is we don’t remember talking in our sleep; because we’re asleep!

And, even when sharing a bed, instances are so brief the other sleeping person commonly misses it too, unless there’s a persistent conversation — which is possible.

Other than the possibility of waking your bedfellow, sleep talking isn’t generally harmful.

Though, when people frequently experience somniloquy after age 25, the National Sleep Foundation recommends seeking professional help.

Somniloquy is not connected to insanity, as portrayed in films and stories, simply stress.

Why do people talk in sleep?

The National Sleep Foundation says adult somniloquy can be brought on by stress, fever, sleep deprivation, alcohol or drugs, or something more serious, like depression.

Psychology Today advises partners to invest in a fan, white noise machine, or good earplugs if it’s causing sleep interruption, but rest assured that you’ll rest-assured soon.

Often the behavior is short-lived, either during a period of waking high stress, poor sleep, or just kids being kids.

  • — Practicing healthy sleep behaviors
  • — limiting caffeine and screens, and keeping a regular bed and wake time
  • — all decrease instances of sleep talking in adults.
  • Oh, and if you ARE worried about spilling your secrets, courts have ruled talking in your sleep is inadmissible as evidence, as it’s not the product of a conscious mind, so sleep soundly, criminal friends.

Have you ever experienced somniloquy?

Either as the talker or the woken-up partner?

Tell me in the comments. 🙂

And for more on sleep check out our Health Blog.

Thanks!

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