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Why Do People Talk in Their Sleep?

Many people sleep talk at some point in their lives. This phenomenon is usually benign and goes away without treatment. In rare cases, it might represent a symptom of something that should be treated. Introducing a bedtime routine and maintaining healthy habits may alleviate and even eliminate sleep talking. 

Why do people talk in their sleep

What is sleep talking and what are the symptoms?

Sleep talking occurs when people talk, mumble, groan, or laugh during their sleep. Sleep talking is a parasomnia, or sleep disorder involving unwanted events while sleeping or falling asleep. 

It mainly affects children between 3–10 years of age. About 50 percent of children sleep talk. Around five percent of adults talk in their sleep, mostly men.

In many cases, sleep talking sounds like innocent babbling. When you hear somebody sleep talking gibberish, they are most likely in a deep stage of sleep — probably the third or fourth stage. If they are speaking whole sentences while sleeping, they are most likely in the first or second stage of sleep.

Contrary to popular belief, people rarely reveal secrets when sleep talking. Medical experts believe that sleep talkers usually babble about ordinary things from everyday life or express their feelings.  

When it comes to the severity of the disorder, the most important factors are the duration and frequency of sleep talking. With that in mind, these elements classify the symptoms into two groups. 

The first group classifies the symptoms according to their frequency. The question to ask yourself is — how often is sleep talking occurring? Depending on your answer, you may recognize your sleep talking pattern in one of the following groups:

  • Mild — happens one or two times per week
  • Moderate — affects your sleep three or more nights during the week
  • Severe — happens every night, sometimes several times per night

The second classification recognizes these three groups of symptoms:

  • Acute — lasts less than one month
  • Subacute — happens occasionally during the year
  • Chronic — persists for more than a year

Sometimes, sleep talking may be accompanied by other symptoms such as sleep apnea, sleepwalking, teeth grinding, and so on. In this case, it might need treatment.

Why do people talk in their sleep: common causes

A woman suffering from sleep talking

People most often sleep talk when they’re depressed or anxious. A demanding lifestyle and everyday pressure may also trigger sleep talking in some people. 

Medical experts believe that sleep deprivation is one of the main causes of sleep talking. In addition to causing sleep talking, sleep deprivation can also have a negative effect on your mood and weaken your immune system. If you’ve been sleep deprived for years, you may want to make a persistent effort to get better sleep.

People most often sleep talk when they’re depressed or anxious. A demanding lifestyle and everyday pressure may also trigger sleep talking in some people.

However, anxiety, stress, and depression aren’t the only reasons for sleep talking. Alcohol and drugs may also affect your sleep. They may make you chatter during your dreams. Sometimes, people talk in their sleep if they have a fever.

To reduce your night mumbling, you may want to improve your lifestyle habits and adopt new strategies to minimize stress.

Serious sleep talking: when to see a doctor

Sleep talking is usually harmless and doesn’t require medical treatment. It might occur only for a specific stage of your life and often goes away on its own.

Occasionally, sleep talking might indicate a more serious condition. This may happen when night chattering becomes one of the symptoms of other disorders such as REM (rapid eye movements) disorder, sleep apnea, or night terrors. 

Occasionally, sleep talking might indicate a more serious condition: REM disorder, sleep apnea, or night terrors.

When sleep apnea is an underlying cause, you may need to take steps to reduce snoring. By treating your sleep apnea, you will also minimize sleep talking.

If your sleep talking gets out of control and you feel exhausted during your working day, ask a sleep specialist for help. A doctor will most likely recommend establishing healthy sleep habits, keeping a sleep diary, and exercising. In rare cases, medication may be prescribed. 

Treating talking in sleep

One of the best ways to reduce your sleep talking is by establishing a bedtime routine. Begin the routine 30–60 minutes before you go to bed and follow the exact pattern every night. Your goal is to help your body and mind slow down before sleep. Consider these tips to help you craft your unique bedtime routine:

  • Install dim lights in your bedroom. 
  • Turn on music that helps you calm down.
  • Read a heartwarming book.
  • Take a relaxing bath.
  • Pray or meditate before you go to bed.
  • Practice gratitude.
  • Replace your mattress if necessary.
  • Avoid checking social media before going to sleep.
  • Turn off all digital devices before bedtime.
  • Go to bed at the same time every night.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol, coffee, or black tea for at least four hours before going to bed.
  • Stay away from nicotine.
  • Stretch or do some yoga.

The takeaway

Sleep talking can happen to anyone, but it’s especially common in men and children. For adults, the frequency and duration usually depend on lifestyle. If it appears together with other sleep problems, you may want to consult a sleep specialist about treatment. Creating healthy habits can be essential for treating each form and intensity of sleep talking. 

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/263070928_Scientific_Significance_of_Sleep_Talking

https://www.sleep.org/articles/sleep-talking/

https://www.sleep.org/articles/is-sleep-talking-bad/

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/sleep-talking

https://aasm.org/resources/factsheets/sleepwalkingtalking.pdf

https://sleepcouncil.org.uk/sleep-hub/sleep-talking/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6139852/

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