Hablar en sueños

talk in dreams

One of the abnormal but at the same time most common behaviors in sleep is talking while asleep. Although its causes remain unclear to this day, this activity during sleep has given rise to numerous investigations, since everyone experiences an episode of sleep talking at least once in their life.

What is it and what causes it?

somniloquia or somniloquy has its origin as a word in the Latin language: sleep (“dream”) and to speak (“talk”), that is to say “talk in dreams or talk while we sleep.”

Given this etymology, the act of speech during sleep can range from barely perceptible babbling to complete and complex dialogues or monologues, or even unintelligible gibberish. Although in some cases you can understand the conversation that someone who is asleep is having, most of the time they are incomprehensible. These somniloquies are usually infrequent and of short duration, usually estimated at less than a minute.

Dream talking occurs in both REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep and non-REM sleep (i.e., stages 1, 2, and 3). Somniloquy occurs in people who are not aware that they are talking while sleeping and who often do not remember these facts.

The causes, as we mentioned above, remain unknown, although two common patterns have been found in people who suffer from somniloquy:

  1. Talking in dreams seems to be hereditary. That is, it is more common to talk in dreams if parents, siblings, grandparents, etc., also talk in dreams.
  2. Talking while asleep is more common in those who have mental health problems (especially in people with post-traumatic stress disorder). Although somniloquy is not a mental illness nor is it related to any of them, it is more common in these patients.

There are also certain situations that make it easier to sleep talk, such as:

  1. Drink alcohol.
  2. To have a fever.
  3. Suffer from insomnia.
  4. Being a sleepwalker.

When does somniloquy occur?

Talking in dreams occurs in the same percentage in phases 1 and 2 of sleep, in phase 3 and in the REM phase.

Speech during phases 1 and 2 of the sleep cycle is characterized by being more intelligible. Here, sleep is not yet deep, so full conversations are more likely. The sleeper does not usually remember the speech episode when he wakes up.

In phase 3, sleep is deeper, resulting in speech that is more difficult to understand. They also do not usually remember the episode of somniloquy when they wake up.

During REM sleep, speech is much clearer. Sometimes, the content of the conversation is directly related to the dreams that are being had at that moment, so the sleeper usually remembers what he said when he woke up.

Some curiosities about talking in dreams

Various studies recorded conversations of their subjects while they slept. 

In many cases, the content of these was bad or profane expressions, sometimes derived from a conflict in the dream that was being had at the time of speaking.

Most of the time, the conversations were of short duration and with a small number of words.

Although during REM sleep conversation can be linked to the dream, the content of speech is not always related to that of the dream: this was tested with some patients who remembered what they had dreamed and did not It matched the conversation that had been recorded.

Should I consult with a specialist?

Talking during sleep is generally not a serious condition. However, you should consult a specialist and try to treat it if:

  1. Interferes with your own rest or that of others, causing insomnia and difficulties falling asleep.
  2. If you feel excessively tired during the day.
  3. If it is suspected that it may be linked to another underlying mental health disorder, since as mentioned above, despite not being a mental illness, it may be indicative of others.

Have you ever talked in your sleep?

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