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The Real Reason We Talk In Our Sleep

While it might seem uncommon, two in three (!) of us talk in our sleep.

While children under the age of ten seem to do most of the sleep talking, recent studies show that the majority of adults say something mid-snooze every few months. And, five per cent of adults admit to speaking while snoozing more regularly than that.

Sleep talking, scientifically known as somniloquy, has previously been described as parasomnia. Parasomnia is a category of sleep disorders that take place in transitions of sleep, such as falling asleep, light sleep and REM (rapid eye movement sleep). And while sleep talking has always been classified as parasomnia in the International Classification of Sleep Disorders, this year it was reclassified to a normal occurrence that can happen during sleep.

So, what do we talk about in our sleep... and why?

While old wives tales suggest listening to your partner’s mid-snooze mutterings, Dr Michael Breus from The National Sleep Foundation says you won’t get any deep, dark secrets out of them. “There’s no data to suggest that sleep talking is either predictive in nature or kind of gives you a window into their subconscious or anything like that,” he explained to The Mirror.

The International Classification of Sleep Disorders has also confirmed sleep talking doesn’t reflect prior waking behaviours or memories, which means your upcoming holiday, cocktails and all, won’t be on the agenda.

Admittedly, most of the detail around sleep talking is pretty hazy, however we do know that light sleepers are always easier to comprehend, while those in REM sleep will sound a little more confusing. Overall though, sleep talking episodes only last 30 seconds, at most, so you should be back to sleep in no time.

When it comes to reasons why, they are a little more straightforward. Dr Breus explains, “it’s most commonly due to something causing sleep deprivation, or because there is already a high level of sleep deprivation.” In addition, he also credits stress, depression, daytime drowsiness, alcohol or fevers which can cause sleep talking, too.

For most, sleep talking is short-lived and doesn’t need further treatment, however if it’s starting to annoy you or others, the National Sleep Foundation recommends seeing a doctor in case there’s a more sinister reason why.

“With my patients, I increase their overall sleep, and decrease things that are disrupting their sleep... so decrease caffeine, alcohol and stress before bed,” Dr Breus adds. “Those types of things can really help make the situation go away by itself.”

Here are four more ways to get a more rested, less chatty, sleep...

Have a sleep schedule: If sleep talking is predominantly due to deprivation, a nightly routine might do the trick. Where possible, get at least seven hours of shut-eye each night with a regular sleep time. That way, your body gets used to the hours required for a good night snooze.

Skip snacking after dinner: While a late-night snack might be tasty, eating close to bedtime can be harmful. Try eating 3-4 hours before sleep, and where you can, avoid caffeinated drinks as this’ll send mixed messages to your body.

Exercise during the day: An all-out workout before bed can lead to an interrupted sleep. Cardio is best done in the morning, as it provides the ideal bloody pressure reduction, with heavier workouts to be completed early too, as they can raise your temperature and stimulate your nervous system. According to The National Sleep Foundation, strength training can be done at any time of the day, leading to deeper, improved zzzs.

Make your room sleep-worthy: Draw the curtains, snuggle under the covers and turn off that nightlight. By making the room comfortable to sleep in, your body will get the message fairly quickly.

Switch off before you switch off: Watching TV or scrolling through social media might not be the best way to tune out after a long day. Pop on some calming music, have a bath, read a book or meditate to truly relax before rest time.

Loved this? Read about the 7 foods that help you sleep.

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