What Is Sleep Talking?
Sleep Talking, known more formally as Somniloquy, is the term given to the act of speaking during your sleep. This does not necessarily mean that what you say will make any sense, or even be more than an incoherent mumble. Sleep talking encompasses the full spectrum of utterances, from an eloquent monologue to a single word. As they are asleep at the time of utterance, the sleep talker has no idea what they have said.
Why Do We Sleep Talk?
There are numerous potential causes of sleep talking, including both physical and mental stimuli. If your emotions have been coming under strain recently, either with increased stress or the negative feelings of depression, then you are more likely to suffer from sleep talking. However, it’s not just negative emotions which can cause you to say things in your sleep. Positive feelings such as excitement, or anything which is very much on your mind, can cause vocal outbursts in the night.
As mentioned earlier, it’s not just mental stimuli which can lead to sleep talking. A severe lack of sleep, such that it causes drowsiness during the day, is a common cause. Other causes include illness, such as a fever, or the consumption of alcohol and other drugs. These more physical causes tend to be examples of your body being overstretched, having to deal with sub-optimal conditions while also regulating your sleep.
Sleep talking can also occur in conjunction with other sleep disorders. These include sleep apnoea, nightmares, REM sleep behaviour disorder, and confusional arousals. Other potential causes for adults can include psychiatric disorders or nocturnal seizures, but these are not common and only tend to affect people aged over 25.
What Does My Sleep Talking Mean?
The idea that we can learn our partner’s secrets while they’re sound asleep can be a compelling one. However, what someone says while they’re asleep does not necessarily mean anything. Much of what people say while they sleep is nonsensical and they have no awareness of what it is they’ve said.
More often than not, the things people say when they’re asleep are short outbursts of a small number of words. A recent study in France found that the most common word people say is ‘no’, with the second-most common being ‘putain’, a French insult you can google yourselves.
While much of what people say in their sleep is meaningless babble, there may be one or two things you could reveal in your slumber. When you sleep talk, you can sometimes say things related to something that’s been on your mind. This does not even have to be current, it could be something you thought about a long time ago, such as an ex-partner from long ago.
Other things which can surface during sleep talk are things that have excited you or filled you with anticipation. These can include all sorts, from your favourite films to popular quotes or even catchy advertisements. So while sleep talking won’t reveal your innermost secrets, it may indicate things which have at one point or another caught your attention.
How Can I Stop Sleep Talking?
The unfortunate fact of the matter is that there is no surefire way to stop sleep talking. It can happen to anyone and occurs fairly randomly. However, the good news is that it usually doesn’t last more than a couple of nights at a time.
That said, there are a few things to consider which may help you limit the chance that you’ll start nattering in the night.
Some easy to achieve countermeasures you can adopt include maintaining a regular sleep pattern and getting enough sleep. By doing this you will train your body to sleep for the correct amount of time and will feel more energised. This regularity in your sleep will also help you sleep more peacefully, preventing you from talking out loud in the night. If you lack a regular sleep pattern, check out our tips for developing a healthy sleep routine.
You should also take care of your sleep hygiene and try to limit your alcohol intake, consumption of heavy meals, and overall stress levels. All of this should you achieve a peaceful and undisturbed night’s sleep.
If your episodes of sleep talking continue for a prolonged period of time, it may be worth contacting a medical professional. In some cases, such episodes can be a symptom of a more serious undiagnosed sleeping disorder. Don’t immediately panic however! This is not usually the case.
There are also some people who are more susceptible to sleep talking. Young children commonly talk in their sleep, and it is also more common in men of any age.