Sleep talking is an admittedly strange habit. Although it can make for entertaining plots in movies and TV shows with characters spilling their darkest secrets in their slumber, most of us don’t really know much about how or why it happens in real life.
This nocturnal chitchat is also known as somniloquy. According to the Sleep Foundation, it can range between complex speeches to unintelligible babbling. They list several factors that can cause sleep talking, including stress, depression, sleep deprivation, daytime drowsiness, alcohol consumption before bed, and fever. It also usually occurs at the same time as other sleep issues like nightmares, that feeling of being “half awake,” sleep apnea, and other disorders.
The severity of sleep talking is broken down into three categories: mild (occurring less than once a week), moderate (occurring more than once a week, but not every night), and severe (occurring every night). If you do find yourself on the more severe end of the spectrum, you might want to check with your doctor about what underlying issues could be to blame. You should hopefully be able to work together to ease problems like anxiety, stress, or sleep disorders to help you get better rest.
The Sleep Foundation also recommends following a regular sleep schedule and practicing proper “sleep hygiene” (refraining from alcohol, heavy meals, and excessive stress before bedtime) to nip the chatter in the bud.
Aside from disturbing your own sleep, frequently bursting out into conversation can get annoying for a significant other you share the bed with. Luckily, you don’t have keep yourself up at night worrying about accidentally revealing too much to your partner if you start suddenly sleep talking (like the inspiration for the Romantics’ 1984 hit “Talking In Your Sleep,” which we bet you have in your head right now). Most cases are rare and usually short-lived. Plus, it’s actually more common with men and children.