Why do people talk in their sleep?

Sleep talking, formally known as somniloquy, is a sleep disorder defined as talking during sleep without being aware of it.

Sleep talking can be triggered by a few different components:

  • Genetics: It has been shown in many studies that sleep talking can run in the family.
  • Sleep disorders, including nightmares, sleep apnea, “confusional arousals,” and REM sleep behavior disorder.
  • Depression
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Stress
  • Fever
  • Sleepiness during the day
  • Alcohol

There are also rare instances in which adults can become sleep talkers due to psychiatric disorders or nocturnal seizures. It has been found that most children with sleep disorders, will grow out of them by age13, but, not sleep talking, however.

Sleep talking can happen at any time of the night, during any stage of sleep. While asleep earlier in the night, when people tend to sleep more deeply, sleep talking may sound more jumbled and like mumbling. As sleep becomes lighter, sleep talking can become more recognizable.

Although not harmful, sleep talking can be embarrassing to the sleeper or disruptive to sleeping partners.

Cited sources:

http://www.attn.com/stories/4940/why-people-sleep-talk

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-land-nod/201307/sleep-talking-what-does-it-mean

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