Whether you have been told by your parents, roommate or members of your family that you tend to mumble while you’re dreaming or you have lived with someone else who talks in their sleep, you have probably experienced this common condition at some point in your life. From sweet dreams to terrible nightmares, the images and storylines that pass behind a person’s eyes when they drift off to sleep and their subconscious takes over causes many to speak out loud while they are having a particularly vivid dream that feels like real life, prompting many people to ask the question, “Why do people talk in their sleep?”
What is sleep talking?
You might make fun of a friend or roommate for talking in their sleep, or you may have had someone tease you for the things you say while dreaming. However, talking in your sleep is actually considered a condition that few who suffer from it can help. According to WebMD, the act of speaking while asleep is known as somniloquy. Although somniloquy is considered an abnormal behavior, the condition is quite common in children and adults alike and is generally not a medical problem that those who suffer from it should be concerned about. Those most likely to start talking in their sleep are children between the ages of 3 and 10.
From single-syllable words to long strains of babble and seemingly endless phrases, the sounds uttered by those who are sound asleep can run the gamut from harmless chatter to offensive, R-rated vulgarities. Episodes of sleep talking typically only last for about 30 seconds, however, people who talk in their sleep on a regular basis tend to experience multiple sleep-talking episodes per evening. It can be very easy to decipher the exact words or extremely challenging to figure out what the sleep-talker is saying. While many who talk in their sleep seem to be babbling to themselves with no particular audience in mind, others are attempting to carry on a conversation with someone who is not present in the room but may be standing right before them in their dreams.
Why do people talk in their sleep?
Although the vast majority of people have either been told they talk in their sleep themselves or have heard a friend, family member or roommate speaking out loud while snoozing, few understand the reason this common condition occurs. Despite the common misconception that all sleep talking takes place when the subject is dreaming, sleep talking actually can occur during any stage of sleep. Some of the people who frequently talk in their sleep suffer from REM sleep behavior disorder and sleep terrors, two different disorders that cause them to shout out loud while they are sleeping. Those affected by these disorders have a tendency to act out their dreams, causing them to yell, grunt or shout while sleeping. In addition to these common disorders that can cause sleep talking, other factors, such as emotional stress, substance abuse, taking certain medications or suffering from a mental health disorder also can contribute to the likelihood that a person will talk in his sleep.