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June 21, 2005 3:20 PM   Subscribe

I've started talking in my sleep. Loudly, clearly, and often.

As far as I can tell, it started about a year ago. My family had never mentioned it, nor had my roommates in college. Within the past year or so, however, every girl I've dated has mentioned it. Every person I've slept in the same room with has told me about it because they're woken up by it. People can sometimes even hear me in the hallway outside my room. I'm pretty certain that I talk in my sleep multiple times every night, though I never remember it at all and I never wake up.

From what I'm told, I rarely say anything of consequence, but I speak as if I were awake and having a normal conversation. I don't shout, I don't sing, and I don't respond to people who try to talk back to me. It isn't affecting my everyday life, but it is kind of embarrassing and it does worry me a little. It just doesn't seem normal, and I didn't always do it. (Also, who knows what stupid things I might accidentally say?)

Google tells me that it could be due to stress or a sleep disorder. I graduated from college last week and I'm starting a full-time job next week, but I don't feel at all stressed about either. I'm a laid-back, present-hedonistic type and it's tough to get me stressed about anything. Sleep disorders may run in my family -- my father has pretty severe apnea and my brother talked a bit in his sleep when he was little -- but as far as I know I've never had any disorders. I have a lot of weird dreams, but I don't snore, sleepwalk, or thrash around in my sleep.

I haven't slept especially well in a very long time (since before my stressful high school days) but I average seven to eight hours a night and I never wake up during the night (I think). As long as I've slept enough, I usually feel well-rested during the day.

Any sleep experts around with some insight on what else might be causing this? Is it something I grew into, and will I grow out of it? Since it happens to me so often, is it indicative of a more severe disorder? Is it worth seeing a doctor? Or should I just stop worrying about it and chat away?
posted by sellout to Health & Fitness (16 answers total)
Not a sleep expert, but you're hardly alone. I have been known to speak, sing, and shout in my sleep. At high school parties, it was a game to get me to converse while passed out. I once bet $10k on a single game of pool while passed out, but otherwise, nothing of consequence. (Luckily, no one came to collect.)

I'm a pretty good sleeper, I have very vivid dreams nightly, and have been discovered sleepwalking. I just figured it was all connected. None of it has ever really developed into anything serious. Not a doctor, but I think it's safe to relax and babble on.
posted by samh23 at 3:41 PM on June 21, 2005

If you'd done this your whole life, I'd say you're just a sleep-talker. But sudden changes send up the warning flags. See your doctor to make sure it's not physiological, then look into a sleep clinic.

(I'm no expert, aside from being, you know, pretty experienced at sleeping.)
posted by desuetude at 3:44 PM on June 21, 2005

Here's a medical site (Saint Thomas Hospital: Sleep Disorders Center) that says:
Sleep Talking (somniloquy)
Sleep talking is a normal phenomenon and is of no medical or psychological importance.
posted by pracowity at 3:52 PM on June 21, 2005

I've always thought it would be fun to tape myself, if only I spoke more clearly in my sleep. Sounds like you have an opportunity to get a window into your own crazy, sleep-addled mind.
posted by lorrer at 4:11 PM on June 21, 2005

I would see a sleep specialist, just to be sure. I have been known to talk in my sleep from time to time, but only when I'm sleeping very lightly - basically not getting healthy sleep. If you're sleep talking every night, and you weren't before, it's better to be safe than sorry.

On the other hand, my roommate and her previous boyfriend used to have long conversations in their sleep more-or-less nightly...
posted by muddgirl at 4:35 PM on June 21, 2005

Sleep talking is great - it occasionally happens to me, but I wish I did it more. I wouldn't be concerned, or embarassed (unless your new job is as a secret agent, which might be problematic). Check out Dion McGregor Dreams if you want to hear REALLY weird sleep-talking.
posted by sluggo at 4:41 PM on June 21, 2005

Have you done anything different since you started talking in your sleep? I wonder if medication or some other outside factor could be causing it. I know when I take allergy medicine, I have extraordinarily vivid dreams.
posted by geeky at 5:16 PM on June 21, 2005

If I were you, I'd record it and post the results online. Could be a fascinating experiment.
posted by waxpancake at 5:48 PM on June 21, 2005

The only part of your story that would make me worry is that it seems to have started up recently, rather than being something you've done all your life. If it keeps up once you're settled into your new job and post-college life, it might be worth looking into. Or maybe not. Are you worried or just embarassed?

I woke myself up last night by talking in my sleep. I used to have to warn roommates that I did it because I scared too many of them. My brother used to do it, too. (My mom told us of vacations with the whole family sharing a room where he & I would both talk in our sleep at the same time.)
posted by belladonna at 5:58 PM on June 21, 2005

As far as I can tell, it started about a year ago. My family had never mentioned it, nor had my roommates in college. Within the past year or so, however, every girl I've dated has mentioned it

I don't think this is conclusive proof that it just began a year ago. College roommates & family might not have been woken by it or might not have been paying enough attention to really notice. The people most likely to notice what you do when you're asleep, and especially to talk to you about it, are people who are paying particular attention to you. I have been told things by lovers that I was never told by friends or family, most likely because it just didn't seem that interesting to friends and family, or they didn't even particularly notice. Sleep-talking is in a way less interesting than it seems like it might be, because the talk is often quite mundane and nonsensical (ie, it doesn't indicate anything, but also doesn't sound funny / poetic - just "in that what for have" or something).

But even if it is a new development, I wouldn't worry too much about it. You could mention it to a doctor at a check up, but I wouldn't go out of your way to see someone about it. I don't think it's even conceivably indicative of anything physical; one could argue that it could indicate psychiatric issues, but if you aren't talking about a problem or expressing obvious fear/frustration/whatever in the speech patterns, and in addition you have no conscious sense of anything being off kilter, then I would not be concerned about it.

And don't be embarrassed about it. Definitely cuter than snoring, and lots of people put up with snoring.
posted by mdn at 6:34 PM on June 21, 2005

I sleep-talk. I always did. Legend has it that I could converse meaningfully and answer other people's questions... In any case, my mom knew always what I was up to. She knew what my sister was up to, too. Because I sleep-talked.... Tough childhood.

Now, I amuse the fellow next to me. Usually it happens when I am exhausted (which is often). Could it be that you picked up activities which tire you a lot? Dunno, doesn't hurt to ask a doctor, but do not worry about it very much.
posted by carmina at 8:44 PM on June 21, 2005

Sleep-talking's not harmful. Quit worrying about it.

I graduated from college last week and I'm starting a full-time job next week, but I don't feel at all stressed about either. I'm a laid-back, present-hedonistic type and it's tough to get me stressed about anything.

Here's the clue, for those with knowledge to see it. If you graduate from college and start a new job and you don't feel any stress, you are displacing or suppressing those feelings. It's not possible to do such things without stress. Lots of folks move the stressful feelings over to their dream time - I know I do.

Maybe do a little introspective work and confront the feelings you've been trying to wish away with airy statements about your stressless personality type.
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:53 PM on June 21, 2005

Not an expert, but studied sleep as part of psych program.

I agree with the above posters who said that, as a recent change, it may be cause for some attention.

You've no doubt done the mental drill, but any changes when this started happening? Particularly with regard to stress, job, surroundings (apartment/house), and diet. Death in the family? Child born? Did one of those relationships you let leave you thinking seriously about any issues involved?

A sleep clinic is a fine idea if this has become disruptive -- plus, they're fun! But out of personal interest, I'd tape myself if I were you, before that. Find out what you're saying. You may find that: a) you remember muttering some of these things, or that they are otherwise familar, and this may trigger some memory of dreams you forgot you were having, and b) it may indicate a potential source of stress that you are trying to work out.
posted by dreamsign at 5:36 AM on June 22, 2005

Thanks to everyone who responded.

It's not really disruptive (apart from waking others up) and it doesn't affect my everyday life. Like I said, it only worries me a little. My main concern has been that it might be the first step towards a more serious disorder.

mdn: You may be right, I can't say for sure when exactly it started. Also, definitely cuter than snoring sounds good to me!

geeky: No medications at all, and no other major changes that I can think of.

ikkyu2: I might be displacing stress, but as I'm sure you know, not everyone copes with potential stressors the same way. Some things stress me out (papers, finals, some relationships). These recent events don't, or haven't yet -- I was looking forward to both. Regardless, they certainly weren't relevant stressors over a year ago. (Also, quit being annoyed. We're not all experts here. A more pleasant tone would be appreciated.)

dreamsign: I've thought of a few, but they were all temporary stressors that passed long ago. Nothing especially serious, either. And I know we have a great sleep clinic around here, so if I've ever got the time I'll try to look into that.

Finally, I like the tape-recording idea a lot of you suggested, and I'll give it a try.
posted by sellout at 2:50 PM on June 22, 2005

the first step towards a more serious disorder

that kind of worrying is the first step to a serious disorder

everyone is mentally ill, its no big sweat
posted by Satapher at 8:56 AM on June 23, 2005

sellout: I am not annoyed. Please imagine a slightly portly, balding, bespectacled doctor smiling gently and delivering my comment, for greater accuracy in connotation.

Like most doctors, I am convinced I am possessed of a special, near-Divine wisdom, but I hold this conviction in the awareness (and hope) that most right-thinking people will take it with a grain of salt, if not summarily dismiss it.
posted by ikkyu2 at 1:40 PM on June 28, 2005

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