Is Sleep Talking Common?Experts have found that up to 70% of people have experienced episodes of sleep talking over the course of their lifetime. What we know is that about half of children ages 3 to 13 talk in their sleep at some point and it tends to affect males and females at the same rate. However, it’s not always a consistent occurrence, and even regular sleep talkers have to be recorded for four nights or more just to document one sleep talking episode.
What Causes People To Talk In Their Sleep?Experts aren’t sure exactly why people talk in their sleep but evidence suggests that it may have to do with genetics. In a survey of twins in 1990, researchers determined that sleep talking co-occurred more frequently with sleepwalking, teeth grinding, and nightmares in both children and adults. There also seems to be a connection between sleep talking and certain mental health conditions, specifically post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Another study looking at why do people sleep talk saw a prevalence of sleep talking in children who had experienced stressful events or had symptoms of anxiety, depression, or behavioural disorders. Some experts believe that it could be related to dreaming and how the brain stores memories during sleep. Sometimes sleep talking can be associated with sleep disorders like sleepwalking, night terrors, REM behaviour sleep disorder, and disorders that make people feel confused when they wake up.
REM Sleep Behaviour DisorderREM sleep disorder (RBD) occurs when the body doesn’t undergo the temporary paralysis experienced in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep stage to keep your body safe while dreaming. RBD can cause some unusual behaviors during the REM sleep cycle including sleep talking, walking, moving, whistling, or shouting, which in this case, sleep talking causes concern as they don’t experience the typical paralysis.
RBD is common among individuals with neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease and dementia. In a small study of four patients with Parkinson’s disease, CBD helped decrease their REM sleep disorder symptoms from 2-7 disturbances per week to 0-1 per week.
What Are The Symptoms of Sleep Talking?The main symptom of sleep talking is speaking during sleep without being aware that you are doing so. This could sound like single words, brief phrases, or complex sentences. Typically, people who are talking in their sleep aren’t addressing actual events or memories but it can be loud, clear, easy to understand, or quiet and nonsensical. Those who experience night terrors may say things that reflect fear or anxiety. Sleep experts consider sleep talking to be benign and often do not recommend treatment unless other movements occur with sleep talking.
Should I Get Help For Sleep Talking?For most, sleep talking is harmless but it can be disruptive. If you find it impedes on your quality of life, speak with your doctor especially if you begin to experience other symptoms such as:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Loud snoring
- Sleep apnea
- Unusual movements at night
- Sleep talking that begins at an older age
- Episodes of nighttime confusion
- Recent fever or illnesses