During the dark of night, you suddenly hear speak. It is your partner – maybe involved in a complex explanation of the connection between pressure and temperature or just talking pure gibberish. Your partner is talking during sleep without being aware of it. It is very common – especially with men and children.
You can try to start a conversation and get your partner to spill a secret, but don’t get your hopes up. A sleep talker usually doesn't remember anything that's said during sleep and there is no guarantee that any of it is correct. Much of the time, the sleep talker makes no sense at all.
Other times the sleep talker will refer to past events, experiences, and relationships. There is not necessarily any current or emotional relevance which is why it can sometimes be quite amusing to confront the sleep talker with what you have overheard.
No one really knows why some people talk in their sleep. It seems to be running in the family and it can be brought on by for instance sleep deprivation.
Sleep talking is common for most of us
Sleep talking ranges from mild where it only happens occasionally or to severe, where it takes place every night. It can also vary in duration. Maybe it just goes on for just some weeks or a month or it can be chronic, and go on for years. Only about 5% of adults regularly talk in their sleep, although two-thirds of adults say something in their sleep at least once every few months.
Sleep talkers normally speak for no more than 30 seconds per episode, but some people sleep talk many times during a night.
Sleep talking happens in all stages of sleep
Surprisingly, sleep talking can occur during any stage of sleep and not just while you dream. It seems that it occurs during in the transitions between different stages of sleep. It can happen when you drift from wakefulness to sleep or between light sleep and REM sleep. The lighter the sleep, the more intelligible the speech: Until a person reaches the deeper sleep stages, they can carry entire conversations, but later on, they might only talk gibberish.
A sleep talking partner can give you sleep problems
If you share a bedroom with a sleep talker, it can be so annoying that you possibly don’t get enough shut-eye yourself. As always, the best thing a person can do to improve his or her sleep is to follow a regular sleep schedule, get enough sleep, and practice proper sleep hygiene. This goes for yourself as well as your partner. Also, refrain from alcohol and heavy meals prior to bed time to reduce sleep talking.
If this doesn’t help, you can try using earplugs or a white noise device. You can also look into the bedroom interior: Get a mattress that reduces the effect of a partner moving in bed, such as memory foam or latex beds. Invest in noise-reducing sleep products. White noise has been used as a sleep aid for years. There are physical machines you can buy, or you can use a white noise app for your smartphone. Ear plugs can help, too.
More tips if you sleep in a noisy environment