One night last year, I was going about my usual nighttime schedule which involved watching Friends on TV in the living room and falling asleep before 11:30pm while my roommate studied Biochem. All of the sudden, I heard myself scream, “OH MY GOSH! IT’S RIGHT THERE ABOVE MY HEAD, OH MY GOSH! IT’S ON ME.” So, naturally I woke myself up and just continued screaming. I awkwardly and frantically threw myself off the couch and onto the floor. I started hitting my head trying to kill this massive spider that I was convinced existed while simultaneously crawling all over the living room floor. Finally, I sat back on the floor, relieved, thinking I had defeated this spider….only to see my roommate staring at me with her eyes and mouth wide open in shock at what she had just witnessed.
“What the HELL, Jani?!”
“There was a bug! I don’t see it, but I think it’s gone now!”
“NO!! All of the sudden, you just started screaming that there was something on you! You were fast asleep, what the HELL!”
“Oh….I think…Hold up, I’m confused. Was that not real?”
“NO!!! That was weird. I’m pretty sure you were sleep talking again.”
That I was! I suffer from mild somniloquy, otherwise known as sleep talking. According to the National Sleep Foundation, somniloquy is a sleep disorder defined as talking during any stage of sleep without being aware of it and “can occur with varying levels of comprehensibility.” It occurs in half of young children and in about 5% of adults; it is more common in males and children. It is usually quite harmless other than causing a nuisance to those around you and possibly embarrassing the sleep talker.
Obviously, the main symptom of somniloquy is sleep talking, but this can vary in severity or duration depending how asleep they are. For example, people tend to speak more coherently in light sleep, while in the later stages they may be restricted to moans and unintelligible sounds. The severity and duration may also depend on the individual’s triggers and well-being.
There are several triggers for sleep talking. Some include stress, depression, fever, and sleep deprivation. Sleep talking may also be a symptom of other sleep disorders like nightmares, sleep apnea, and REM sleep behavior disorder. In very rare cases, sleeping talking in people over age 25 may be linked to mental and medical illnesses. Sleep talking also runs in families, which funnily enough, my dad enjoys telling stories about my mom talking to the fridge in her sleep.
Treatment for somniloquy is generally unnecessary; however, if you are worried there may be an underlying medical explanation, it may be helpful to speak to a physician or sleep specialist. The National Sleep Foundation suggests that practicing proper sleep hygiene can help reduce the symptoms of or prevent somniloquy. This may include having a regular sleep schedule and avoiding alcohol, heavy meals, and excessive stressors before heading off to bed!
Do you live with roommates and are worried about bugging them Wear earplugs, get a noise machine, or get 100,000 views on a hilarious YouTube video of your roommate sleeptalking….