Does your roommate say funny things in their sleep?


| 7 Comments

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Last week I woke up and I saw that my roommate had left me a note on my whiteboard saying "Last night around 1 you sat up in bed, proceeded to tell me a "funny" story, laughed and laid back down". I of course did not remember doing this and this is not the first time I have talked in my sleep and not remembered it the next day. So I was wondering: What is sleep talking and why does it happen?

Sleep talking is formally known as somniloquy. It occurs when a person talks in their sleep without being aware they are doing it. It is part of a group of sleeping disorders known as Non Rapid Eye Movement sleep or NREM. Other NREM disorders include sleepwalking, sleep eating and night terrors.

According to an article on Psychology Today online, sleep talking usually occurs during a period of transition from light sleep to deep sleep or vice versa. It is possible to wake up briefly during transition before returning to sleep. Sometimes however the brain is being pulled in two different directions, one half wanting to sleep and the other trying to stay awake. This is when one of the NREM disorders is most likely to occur.

There are several different forms of sleep talking as the talker can say plain gibberish, full sentences or have full blown conversations while being unconscious.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the type of speech one is able to produce is dependent on what stage of sleep they are in, the lighter the sleep the more complex the speech. When in a deep sleep, the talker is more likely to produce moans and gibberish.
While sleep talking is common in children it is less frequent in adults and can be brought on by a variety of factors such as "stress, depression, fever, sleep deprivation, day-time drowsiness and alcohol"
According to both sources there are no real cures for sleep talking only preventative measures that can be taken. These include but are not limited to following a regular sleep schedule, getting enough sleep, reducing heavy meals and alcohol consumption before bed.

7 Comments

Wow I’ve actually been in this situation as well. I’ve sleep walked and talked for many years now and I find it interesting that it might be due to things like stress, sleep deprivation, and daytime drowsiness. I think that like we have discussed in class though we should leave room for chance to be the reason for sleep walking and talking.

According to my aunt I’ve slept walked and talked for many years so I asked her at what point in my life I did this the most. To agree with your statement that sleep talking is more common in children, I sleep talked as a child more but I sleep talked when I would go to bed at a normal time. Therefore at the time I was sleep talking the most I was getting an average amount of sleep. Because of my personal experiences with sleep talking not matching up with hypotheses I am reminded that correlation does not equal causation; just like we discussed in class. Even though research has been done to give people reason to believe that things like sleep deprivation cause sleep walking, room should be left for chance because there may be a third variable that causes sleep talking. As people know when we are sleep our brain is still at work and responsible for things like sleep walking/talking. Also as people know the brain is very difficult to understand, therefore there is no telling exactly what brain activity causes sleep walking/talking. Because of this room should be left for chance. Sleep talking could be simply due to chance because a certain combination of brain activities or something else could be causal to sleep talking.

I have several friends who talk in their sleep and I have always been curious about why this happens. According to this WebMD article, younger children seem to sleep talk in much greater percentages than older people. I wonder if this has something to do with brain development and changes in how we sleep as we age. Perhaps those who continue to talk in their sleep have a slightly different functioning of their brains during REM? Also, the article suggests sleep talking can be hereditary. Could this also have something to do with the brain, maybe with some part being more active in others and its activity being caused by genes? Maybe people with more subconsciously active brains are prone to sleep talking or reversely, maybe people who sleep talk develop more subconscious brain activity?

I also have a roommate who talks in her sleep. Sometimes it's only gibberish and other times she looks directly at me and says something without any recollection in the morning. It seems interesting to me that sleep talking is more common in young children. The list of frequent catalysts of sleep talking that you provided in your entry all seem to directly apply to college-aged students. In addition to these specifics, it is also important to consider the fact that college students rarely do get full nights of deep sleep. In the dorms especially, I have found that it is difficult to sleep an entire night without being awaken by someone or something. I also wonder if you are more likely to sleep talk when you know that someone else is in the room, or if we only know we are sleep talking BECAUSE we have someone else in the room to inform us of our behavior?

Carolyn, those are some good questions! I don't know how we would know if we are more likely to sleep talk when there is someone else in the room than when we are alone. There would have to be a big study that records people while they sleep alone and notes how often it happens versus how often it happens when that same group is sleeping in a room with another person.
I agree with you that the causes that I listed seem to be geared more towards adults than children but they can still be applied to children( with the exception of the alcohol one hopefully). I have not been able to find any credible articles that offer a hypothesis about why children sleep talk more than adults I have just found in this webmd article that there is a drastic difference, saying that 50% of children ages 3 to 10 sleep talk while only 5% of adults do it. It does not mention the percentage for teenagers and young adults.
Based on my personal experiences I definitely would believe that sleep deprivation is a big factor for college age students but again to really get strong evidence there would have to be a randomized control trial done with two groups of college students. One group who consistently got enough sleep and one group who consistently did not get the recommended amount. It would be interesting.

Here is the article that I was talking about... I forgot to put in the link in my last comment

http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/excessive-sleepiness-10/talking-in-your-sleep

The somniloquy is an interesting topic in our everyday life. My roommate talks in her sleep almost every day, sometimes in Korean(beacuse it is her first language), sometimes in English...Most of time she is more likely to produce moans and gibberish, according to your blog she is in a deep sleep.
That's so funny when she talks loudly and angrily, her eyes are keeping closed. And seldomly,she will get up from the bed, and open the closet,preparing to go to class at midnight...And when I ask her..she can remember nothing.. I thought that is somnambulate, also known as sleepwalker. There was a horrible period in my childhood. During that period I always got up at midnight,and walked to anywhere as my dream indicated. I can remember one day, I woke up and found I was in the middle of the road, and a car honked the horn in front of me, which made me scared.I realized I was outside my home, however, not so far away...According to the expert, sleepwalking events are also common in childhood and decrease with age as well as it happened in sleeptalking. Actually, when I get older, sleepwalking is almost completely removed from my life.

Different from the sleeptalking, that usually occurs during a period of transition from light sleep to deep sleep or vice versa, the sleep walking always happen in the parasomnia family. When I search the sleep walking on the internet I found that it is a misconception that adult sleepwalking always indicates a psychological disorder. Sleepwalking can, however, be a symptom of people with psychological disorders. In one study, adult test subjects were given the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, a psychiatric test. According to the study, patients showed "outwardly directed behavior patterns...suggesting that these adults had difficulty handling aggression. They did not support an interpretation of sleepwalking as 'hysterical dissociation'."
Here is an article about the ten unbelievable actions happened during the sleepwalking..
If you'd like to read: http://www.oddee.com/item_96680.aspx

Lately, I too have been wondering about the causes of different sleeping problems. More specifically, night terrors. My roommate has a horrible tendency to scream out and get up in her sleep. It's sometimes quite scary, but usually pretty funny. I've always been told never wake someone up who is having a night terror, so I never tried it. After reading your blog I got to think, why did this happen to her? I always just accepted it in the past, however I began to want some answers. So, I started to look. One article I found listed some of the reasons, and a lot of them overlap with the reasons you gave for sleep talking. Some of the symptoms include:
-Sleep deprivation
-Fatigue
-Stress
-Anxiety
-Fever (in children)
-Sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings
-Lights or noise
But, I can't help but think there is a more psychological reason than just stress or anxiety. I could not find anything to prove this yet, however I would love to find out whether people with night terrors as opposed to just sleep talking have different psychological problems that caused this.

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