Have you been repeatedly told that you whisper in your sleep? While it can cause much amusement to those who hear it, this common sleep disorder may worry you that you are letting out your deepest, darkest secrets or disturbing your room mates.
The good news is that it is rarely violent or harmful or a sign of some other health problem.
Often inherited, sleep talking is experienced by about 50% of young children and 5% of adults. Contrary to ancient belief, in most cases, sleep talking is not necessarily related to mental or major sleep disorders.
Is there any specific reason for sleep talking?
Scientists are still not sure how dream chatter is linked to night-time reveries, but many people consider sleep talking as part and parcel of dreaming and believe it is often a problem-solving device.
Most sleep talking occurs during the arousal from non-REM sleep, but can occur during REM sleep. If the talking is overly dramatic or emotional, it may be a sign of a more serious sleep disorder, like REM sleep behavior disorder or sleep terrors, which usually involve loud shouting.
Sleep terrors are also called night terrors, which manifest themselves as frightening screams, kicking and thrashing in the sleep. It is usually very hard to wake someone from a sleep terror. Usually sleep talking occurs simultaneously with sleep walking and NS-RED (nocturnal sleep-related eating disorder).
If you don’t suffer from a sleep disorder, other causes of sleep talking include certain medications, fever, substance abuse and emotional stress.
Is it possible to reduce talking in sleep?
There in no hard and fast method of reducing talking in sleep. However, improving your sleeping habits can certainly help you to minimize the frequency of unusual talking in your sleep. Here are a few ways that may help you to reduce talking in sleep to some extent.
- Minimize stress: Emotional stress is one of the major causes for sleep talking. Explore different stress reduction techniques and implement them in your daily routine.
- Include enough physical activity: When your body lacks sufficient physical activity, it not only affects you physically, but also causes sleep-related problems. Try to get regular exercise and make physical activity a way of life. However, make sure you don’t work out just before going to bed, as your body needs time to cool down and doesn’t react well to moving from a position of motion to a stationary one.
- Cut back caffeine and alcohol at bed-time: Because it is a stimulant, caffeine can cause many sleep problems. It takes up to eight hours to leave your body and should not be drunk after lunch. Alcohol, though a depressant, also impairs the quality of sleep.
- Monitor television time. Though many people fall asleep while watching television, it is a good idea to switch off the TV at least an hour before going to sleep. Television stimulates the brain, and could overwhelm your mind with images and thoughts.
If your sleep talking is dramatic, emotional or vulgar, it may be a sign of a sleep disorder. In this case, you should consult an experienced sleep specialist for suggestions on how to improve your sleep.