Talking in your sleep is more common than it seems. In fact, 66.8% of the population have had at least one episode of sleep talk at some point in their lives.
As you can see, it is a fairly common sleep disorder that is not serious, although for those who suffer from it it can be annoying or even embarrassing. Below we explain what exactly it is, what causes it and how it can be treated.
What is somniloquy?
Somniloquy, as sleep talking is medically called, is a parasomnia, that is, a type of disorder or abnormal behavior that manifests itself during sleep.
This vocalization is involuntary and can range in intensity from whispers to screams. The episode does not usually last more than a few seconds and the person who has experienced it does not remember the next day or what he has said or even that he has spoken.
This sleep disorder is more common during childhood, in times of growth, and usually disappears when reaching adolescence. Likewise, it can occur at any age. It affects between 5% and 10% of the adult population and between 50% and 80% of children.
Unlike most parasomnias that occur only during specific parts of the sleep cycle, sleep talking can manifest in any phase of sleep, it has been observed in both REM and NREM sleep. And the most common is that it appears in the early hours of the night, when sleep is deeper.
Why do people talk in their sleep?
There are studies that show that genetic inheritance is one of the factors that most influences the appearance of sleep talk.
However, the manifestation of this disorder can be stimulated by other factors such as anxiety, depression, stress, migraines, night terrors, SAHS (Sleep Apnea-Hypopnea Syndrome), fever or stressful situations (in children they can be tests or changes in the family, for example).
They can also cause drowsiness: the consumption of alcohol or drugs, lack of rest, the practice of very demanding physical exercise or an inadequate diet and, mainly, when these take place during the last hours of the afternoon or at night.
Although it can be annoying or uncomfortable, sleeptalking is not considered a disease and is not serious. This disorder does not affect the structure of sleep and does not have serious medical or psychological consequences.
What can be done to stop talking in your sleep?
Somniloquy is not a disease, so there are no specific treatments for this disorder. However, it can be a nuisance for those who suffer from it.
Creating friendly habits with break time can be the key in most cases to avoid talking in your sleep:
Prepare the environment before sleeping (ventilate, regulate the temperature and reduce the lighting).
Avoid using screens in bed.
Eat a balanced diet. Foods with tryptophan promote sleep.
Do not consume stimulants during the hours before the sleep period.
Take a relaxing bath before going to sleep.
You can also meditate.
To get a deeper sleep, you can listen to both white noise and pink noise.
However, there are cases in which it is recommended to see a specialist:
If it is stimulated by psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, or depression.
In cases where it becomes a problem because the sufferer is ashamed to sleep with other people.
If it interferes with proper rest and affects daily activities.
If it occurs for the first time after the age of 25 and is repeated continuously. In this case, it could be a symptom of another pathology.
Is it understood what we say when we speak in our sleep?
Although, on occasion, the person who speaks in his sleep can emit sentences or words that make sense, the content of the speech is usually not intelligible. A linguistic study of somniloquy revealed that although syntax and semantics are respected, more than half of the content is made up of non-verbal expressions (murmurs, shouts, whispers and laughter).
Another interesting thing is that, although the person articulates an apparently coherent speech and is even able to answer questions, what he says does not have to be true, since the person who speaks in his sleep is not aware of the conversation.
Although it can be worrying to say something embarrassing or unsaid, it’s not something that usually happens. What is said is usually related to the scene of an ongoing dream. According to some studies, while somniloquies during REM sleep tend to refer to recent events in daily life, non-REM sleep tend to have more affective content.
Difference Between Somniloquy and Sleepwalking
Although somniloquy and sleepwalking are often confused and, on some occasions, both disorders occur at the same time, they are two different things. As we have seen, somniloquy consists of talking in your sleep, while sleepwalking also involves movements.
An episode of sleepwalking can last for several minutes during which the sleepwalker can get up, walk, and even run. It is also capable of carrying out complex tasks such as unlocking doors, manipulating objects, dressing, eating, going down stairs or leaving the house. His eyes are open and he can talk, but he most likely won’t remember the episode in the morning.
Although it is not a serious disorder either, it does involve involuntary movement, which has the risk that the sleepwalker is injured.
Somniloquy is a sleep disorder, more common than is believed, that is not serious and is not a disease. It is usually more frequent in children and in most cases it disappears during adolescence.
As it is not considered a pathology, it does not have a specific treatment, but it can still be annoying and something that the person wants to avoid. In that case, changing some habits can reduce its appearance and even get rid of it.