A common type of parasomnia an estimated two of three people suffer from is sleep-talking. It’s a sleep disorder that occurs by itself wherein the person talks during their sleep without being aware of it. Although it’s typically harmless, sleep-talking is an abnormal behavior and could be a symptom of an underlying problem.
If you talk in your sleep, there are some steps you can take to reduce or hopefully put an end to it. Let’s take a look at them.
In a Nutshell
There’s no proven method to put a complete stop to sleep-talking. Additionally, treatment is viewed as unnecessary as it’s a harmless disorder that doesn’t get worse or affect the quality of a person’s life. However, you can reduce its frequency and severity by improving your sleep hygiene and adopting some healthy habits.
What Is Sleep-Talking?
Sleep-talking, also known as somniloquy, is a sleep disorder an estimated two of three people experience during their lifetime. It’s common among children more than adults and generally isn’t a cause for concern.
People who suffer from this disorder talk in their sleep without being aware of it. Their somniloquy can last up to thirty seconds, and they may have multiple episodes in a single night. What’s said during these episodes varies from one person to another, but it could range from meaningless mumbling to eloquent constructions..
Sleep talkers talk to themselves or carry on conversations as if they’re talking to someone. They might pause between sentences as if they’re waiting for a reply, and it’s completely normal. Sometimes, they’re able to, although to a very limited degree, respond to the partner they’re sharing their sleep space with.
However, it may be difficult to sleep next to a sleep talker for a few reasons.
While some may only speak in incoherent whispers during their episodes, some could be suffering from sleep terrors, and their episodes include a lot of shouting or groaning. This makes it uncomfortable for other people to sleep in the same room, which can be inconvenient in case of marriage or siblings sharing a room.
Additionally, some sleep talkers’ episodes include explicit or otherwise embarrassing content that could discomfort their partners. So while the condition isn’t harmful at all to someone’s health, it may cause some inconveniences regarding sleeping arrangements.
What Are The Symptoms of Sleep-Talking?
Sleep talkers have no recollection of their episodes once they wake up. It’s impossible to know that you talk in your sleep as it doesn’t reflect in your daily life, except in severe cases where you’re exhausted through the day and unable to concentrate.
Although sleep-talking episodes are short and mostly consist of incomprehensible gibberish, they can occasionally contain offensive, sexually implicit, or embarrassing information that could embarrass the talker. These reflect on their partner’s lives, and they could be a way to realize that you experience this abnormal sleep behavior.
Furthermore, research suggests that sleep-talking doesn’t directly correlate to the person’s daily life, recent conversations, and past events. It also doesn’t necessarily occur vis-a-vis dreams—episodes of sleep-talking involve complete gibberish and separate conversations with yourself or another person.
As such, the only way to know whether you talk in your sleep is by sharing a room with someone. If they sleep light, they’ll most probably hear you in the nights and let you know in the morning.
Who Talks in Their Sleep?
An estimated two of three people report experiencing this abnormal sleep behavior. It’s also a common occurrence among children; half of the kids between the ages of three and ten are reported to talk during sleep.
However, research suggests that adults are less affected. The condition normally fades with age, so children who talk in their sleep don’t necessarily grow to be adult sleep-talkers.
It’s difficult to get an exact number due to the lack of day-to-day symptoms among sleep-talkers. Available data may not be precise since people are generally ignorant of this disorder unless a partner reports that they suffer from it. For instance, people who live alone might be sleep-talkers without ever knowing.
What Are the Causes of Sleep-Talking?
Scientists are yet to find an exact cause of sleep-talking. Although it’s assumed that dreams are connected to episodes of sleep-talking, research suggests that sleep-talking doesn’t necessarily correlate with the person’s past or present experiences or dreams. It’s spontaneous and separate and can happen during any stage of sleep.
However, it’s worth mentioning that sleep-talking may have a genetic component and may run in families. The research discovered that sleep-talking co-occurs with sleepwalking, nightmares, and teeth grinding, and they may all share a genetic relationship.
Sleep-talking is also more common in people who suffer from mental conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder. However, not all cases are a symptom of an underlying mental illness.
Finally, your mental state and certain medications could be a cause. For example, people who are often stressed or take certain medications are more likely to have sleep-talking episodes than those who don’t.
Is Sleep-Talking Dangerous?
Sleep-talking is harmless in most cases. People who do it have no recollection of their episodes, and it doesn’t reflect in their daily lives. Furthermore, it rarely is a symptom of a major underlying medical issue. However, there are some cases in which sleep-talking may be a cause of concern.
First, sleep-talking occurs spontaneously. People who experience it have no control over the content of their episodes, and you can never predict what they’ll talk about.
Second, sleep-talking behavior varies from one person to another. Some people get up in bed and talk as if they’re awake. On the other hand, some people murmur while rolling in the bed.
Finally, in case of sleep-talking is connected to other sleep disorders, such as sleepwalking or consecutive nightmares, it may be a symptom of an underlying medical problem. In this scenario, it’s necessary to present your case to your doctor so that you don’t risk a reduced quality of sleep for the rest of your life.
How to Stop Sleep-Talking
Unfortunately, there currently isn’t a precise method to put a complete stop to sleep-talking. The cause isn’tt fully understood due to the scientists’ lack of deep understanding of this subject, and the unreliable way data is gathered because people who talk in their sleep rely on others to report their behavior.
Additionally, sleep-talking treatment is viewed as unnecessary due to its being a generally harmless disorder. Most victims report incomprehensible murmurs at a limited frequency, which doesn’t affect them in any way
However, if you’re concerned about the content of your episodes and the consequences they may have on your relationship with your partner, it’s worth knowing that there are a few steps you can take to reduce your sleep-talking. We’ll discuss them below.
But if sleep-talking is a common occurrence, and your symptoms are severe, it could be a cause for concern. For instant, if you consistently suffer from night terrors or your episodes consist of a lot of shouting and thrashing, they’ll have detrimental consequences on your daily life because you’ll wake up tired.
In this case, it’s best to consult your doctor to discuss appropriate treatment. They’ll most probably ask you to monitor your sleep for one night or a few nights in a row. Severe cases will have to sleep in a sleeping clinic and be monitored by doctors or nurses. Meanwhile, normal cases can monitor their sleep cycle at home with the help of a partner.
How to Reduce Sleep-Talking
Sleep-talking is an abnormal behavior that happens when a person’s normal sleep patterns are disturbed. Their episodes may be caused by their brain’s confusion between states of wakefulness and sleep.
As such, it’s necessary to take steps forward in improving your sleep. Sleep hygiene is concerned with promoting healthy sleep behavior and focuses on bettering your sleep environment, diet, and daily behavior. Creating a healthy routine will significantly improve your sleep quality and limit, if not put a stop, to most cases of parasomnia.
Here’s what you can do:
- Avoid consuming caffeine or other stimulants past mornings, as they’re the main culprit behind inconsistent sleep schedules and restless nights.
- If you take medications with severe side effects, consider consulting your doctor for alternatives or lower doses.
- Create a healthy sleep schedule of at least seven hours per night and try to stick to it — consistency is key to build a healthy habit.
- Put away your electronics at least an hour before bedtime. Blue light interrupts the production of melatonin, which is the hormone responsible for making you fall asleep.
- Create a cozy sleep environment by dimming or turning off lights and adjusting your bedroom’s temperature. Sleeping in a cold room can trigger nightmares and sleep-talking episodes.
- Sleep in a distraction-free environment by limiting your exposure to bright lights and loud sounds.
- Upgrade your bedding, mattress, and pillow, as their quality will directly reflect on your sleep.
- Exercise! Moderate workout sessions early in the day are proven to improve sleep quality.
It’s best to consult your doctor for an appropriate treatment plan if your sleep hygiene is already excellent, yet you notice a minimal change in your episodes’ frequency or severity.
When Should I See My Doctor?
Although sleep-talking is harmless in most cases, it’s wise to consult your doctor if you’re concerned that your case is too severe to be ignored.
Consistent sleep interruptions can lead to concerning medical issues such as insomnia or hypersomnia, and you may find yourselves exhausted and unable to concentrate during the day. Additionally, your relationship with your bedroom sharer may deteriorate.
When you feel that your sleeping habits are starting to affect your daily life, then you should know it’s time to consult a doctor. But why?
For starters, you could have PTSD without knowing, since it’s a common culprit of sleep-talking episodes. Also, you might have a psychiatric disorder, sleep seizures, or sleep apnea, which are are all treatable if diagnosed properly.
Most importantly, if you don’t have a history of sleep-talking or mental illness and suddenly start experiencing it past the age of 25, you most probably have a condition preventing you from sleeping well. Bear in mind that sleep-talking normally develops at young ages, and most adults who have it have had it since they were children.
In this case, your doctor may need you to get a sleep study and a full examination of your sleep patterns to get to the bottom of the problem and recommend an appropriate treatment plan.
What Can I Do If My Partner Talks in Their Sleep?
Partners of sleep talkers bear the consequences of this abnormal sleep behavior. While the talker sleeps soundly and wakes up with no recollection of their episodes, their bed sharers’ sleep may frequently be interrupted. Moreover, they can also grow discomfort or notice negative changes in their daily lives due to reduced sleep quality.
If your partner talks in their sleep, your go-to solution is to encourage them to better their sleep hygiene with the hope that this behavior becomes infrequent. However, there are a few things you can do if their case is severe.
- Sleep in a different room. While it may be difficult if you have an intimate relationship with your partner, it could be a viable solution if the patient is a family member.
- Wear earplugs or headphones. They’ll completely block out your partner’s sleep-talking and guarantee you uninterrupted sleep
- Put on some background sounds. White or Brownian noise could drown out your partner’s talking and soothe you to sleep, or consider putting on a sleep sounds compilation—plenty is available on YouTube.
Sleep-talking is generally a harmless sleep disorder. However, it could be a symptom of an underlying medical issue.
While people who talk in their sleep don’t recollect their episodes and are often undisturbed by them, their partners bear the consequences of this abnormal behavior. In severe cases, it can impact their sleep quality and lead to concerning disorders, such as insomnia.
There’s no proven way to put a complete stop to sleep-talking, but improving your sleep hygiene is the best way to reduce its frequency and severity.
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