Why Do Some People Talk in Their Sleep?

Have you ever woken yourself (or a significant other) up with the sound of your own voice yelling while asleep? This act, called sleep talking, affects nearly half of all children and about five percent of adults and tends to be more common among men. Sleep talking can occur during any stage of sleep and may involve complicated conversations, gibberish, or mumbling. Most people who talk in their sleep are completely unaware they do it until someone tells them.

Sleep talking is mostly harmless, although it may cause some friction between romantic partners. When a partner sleep talks consistently, it may disturb the other to the point of insomnia – much like snoring often does. In addition, the things that are said while sleeping may be taken the wrong way by the person hearing them. If you’ve heard your significant mumbling about the red head from the coffee shop, there is no reason to be jealous – sleep talkers have no control over what they say or why. Nothing that is heard is ever intentional nor is it real dialogues.

While sleep talking does not physically hurt, it can be a sign of a more serious sleep disorder such as night terrors or sleep apnea. Using alcohol before can cause sleep talking, or experience fever, stress, or depression. Since a person can start or stop sleep talking at any point in their life, it may be worth looking into potential causes, just in case something else is going on. Untreated stress or depression can lead to even more sleep issues and a reduction in immune system function.

If sleep talking is interfering with your life in some way, either during sleep or the day, it may be a good idea to speak with a sleep specialist. They will be able to help find potential causes and treatments for each unique case. For those who hear the sleep talking, it is important to let the person sleep even if it’s annoying. Waking them up may not help the problem and may even have negative consequences. This is another question that can be discussed with a sleep specialist.

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Durant Weston