Have you ever spent the night at someone's house, only to be told by a highly amused sleeping partner the next morning that you have been saying odd things in your sleep? Somniliquy, more commonly known as sleep talking, is a sleep disorder that affects many people. Although sleep talking is rarely a cause for concern, it can be embarrassing for the sleep talker, especially because a sleep talker will rarely remember what was said.
What Causes Sleep Talking?
Children are more prone to sleep talking, and statistics show that nearly 50% of all children sleep talk, while only around 5% of all adults show symptoms of the condition. Generally, the person sleep talking is not aware of what he or she is saying, and modern science suggests that it is not caused by a rational or conscious mind. For this reason, what a person says while sleep talking is inadmissible as evidence in court.
Sleep talking is thought to run in families, but there are some other factors which may affect a person's sleep patterns. These can include:
- Anxiety disorders or other psychiatric disorders
- Sleep deprivation
According to the Sleep Foundation, sleeping talking is more common in males than in females, although the reason for this is unknown. The type of speech and language used by a person who is sleep talking is often very different from that person's language during wakefulness. Sleep talkers have even been known to speak in other languages than their own. In most cases sleep talking is spontaneous, but occasionally it can be induced by holding a conversation with the sleep talker.
What Solutions or Treatments Exist for Sleep Talking?
Because sleep talking does not pose a significant threat to the sleep talker, there are no specific treatments for it. However, there are some things you can do to minimize its frequency. Speaking to a sleep specialist can help you to figure out what may be causing you to talk in your sleep. For example, if you find that you sleep talk a lot more when you are dealing with stress, you can take active steps to reduce stress in your life.
One very good way of identifying what may be triggering the sleep talking is to keep a sleep diary. In this diary you should keep track of things like:
- What time you went to bed
- What time you woke up
- Whether you are taking any particular mediation or drugs
- Whether you are drinking alcohol regularly or occasionally
- How often you exercise
- Whether you have been drinking a lot of coffee or other caffeinated beverages
Any one of these things could be having an effect on your sleeping patterns, and a sleep specialist will be able to use your sleep diary to help you identify what the problem may be.
In some cases sleep talking can be a sign of a more serious problem, specifically when it is accompanied by night terrors, sleep walking, violence, confusion or other disturbing behavior. If you have reason to believe that your sleep talking is a symptom of another more serious problem, do not hesitate to speak to your doctor or a sleep specialist.