Most of the time, somniloquy, the formal name for the condition of talking in one’s sleep, amounts to little more than mumbling gibberish. Some sleep talkers, however, start speaking in a stage of very light sleep and are therefore capable of fully intelligible dialogues, and in some instances, these can be brutal confessions that a spouse might not have otherwise heard. Other people who talk in their sleep, like Internet sensation Sleep Talkin’ Man, are purely hilarious, if at times rather crass. The utterances of a slumbering Adam Lennard, the Sleep Talkin’ Man, have been immortalized on a blog written by his wife, Karen.
Here’s a recent quote from the STM (Sleep Talkin’ Man) blog: “I will NOT wear my lobster suit and dance in the street. Not even for rhubarb and custard. Go away and leave me alone. My bee costume is waiting. Bzzzzzzzzz.”
Fortunately for Adam, his wakeful personality is quite different than his sleep-talking tone, so the condition hasn’t been too detrimental to his marriage. On the contrary, the blog and associated merchandizing have most likely improved the couple’s standard of living.
No one really knows why some people talk during the night. Because scientists still don’t quite understand what happens in our brains while we’re asleep, sleep, dreams and sleep disorders remain a fascination. Sleep-talking is classified as a sleep disorder, even though it usually requires no treatment. For most people, talking while asleep happens rarely if ever and is usually a short-lived experience for the sleeper and his or her astonished partner, on whom the sleep-talking often has a more memorable impact. Usually, sleep talkers don’t remember talking or what they said.
Sleep talking is more common among men and children than it is among women. Because sleep talkers are not typically aware of their behavior or their speech, their voices can sound very different from the way they converse when awake. Sleep talking can sometimes be induced by a partner who engages in conversation with the sleeper. Scientists believe it might also be brought on by stress, depression, fever or sleep deprivation.
In many cases, sleep talking runs in families, although external factors seem to stimulate the behavior. Sleep talking often occurs with other sleep disorders such as nightmares, confusional arousals, obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, and REM sleep behavior disorder. If you believe you are suffering from one or more of these disorders, it is important to talk to a doctor.
Although sleep talkers have been known to unleash strange, hurtful or incriminating diatribes, the law accepts that sleep talking is not a product of a conscious or rational mind, so it is usually inadmissible in court. Still, unconscious admissions can be problematic, as the Romantics point out in their song, “When You’re Talking in Your Sleep.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwT9ltDBG14
Although not physically harmful, sleep talking can cause embarrassment and insomnia in the speaker’s partner. If sleep talking persists, some people do choose to seek medical attention.