For some people, talking in their sleep consists of incoherent babble and mumbling; for others, a full-on monologue or narrative. (We sincerely hope the latter doesn’t have unfortunate company in bed.) But what is it that causes sleep talking, or somniloquy, to begin with?
Well, for starters, you’re more prone to sleep talking if you’re a man or child (you win this round, ladies). And while the issue can be genetic to an extent, it can also be brought on by a laundry list of factors, including alcohol, drugs, and high levels of stress. Plus, sleep talking may be a result of being prompted by someone who is awake, as opposed to being a solely spontaneous phenomenon.
Naturally, sleep talking is also affected by the different stages of sleep, some of which lend themselves to more coherent language. For example, when it comes to deep REM sleep, which you typically experience early on in the night, sleep talking is more likely to consist of gibberish. As for lighter sleep later in the night, this is where sleep talkers are likely to put together proper words and sentences while snoozing, though they may do it in different voices than their own.
If you’re a sleep talker, chances are you wouldn’t really know it unless you dozed off in the company of somebody else, who probably won’t have a problem filling you in on your mid-slumber yapping the next morning. But while you – or your sleep partner – might not put much thought into sleep talking, the fact is that the phenomenon is something of a disorder. Luckily, it’s not a particularly problematic one, beyond being a potential sleep disrupter for those around you, and it’s an issue that is typically short-lived and fades naturally over time. In the event that you find it happening frequently without really subsiding, however, it might be a good idea to speak to a doctor or a sleep specialist to get to the root of the problem and see what your options are in alleviating it.