Have you ever been woken up by someone talking in your sleep suddenly? Have you caught a family member, partner or friend telling you something while they were totally asleep? Or perhaps someone has told you that you yourself have been talking during the night even though you don't remember absolutely anything from this episode? Today we are talking about nocturnal speech disorder, a very common condition that may have surprised you at some time.
The nocturnal speech disorder, also known as somniloquia, is one of the most common sleep disorders, in which the person suffering from it speaks during sleep unconsciously. This speech can range from nonsensical gossip to coherent sentences and phrases, even though the person is not aware of what he is saying. That is, the words that are expressed during sleep in this disorder can range from short words without any emotional content to real speeches of great temporal extension and even conversations.
It seems that nocturnal speech disorder can appear in both children and adults. It is very common for children to speak in dreams at least once a year and it is more frequent in children of 4 and 5 years..
Interestingly, bilingual people who suffer from nocturnal speech disorder usually use the language they dominate the most when they begin to speak in dreams, while those bilinguals who are equally fluent in two languages, speak in either of the same.
This disorder is usually suffered by healthy people and is normally a benign condition that gradually resolves, although there is a very strong connection between night speech and other more problematic syndromes such as sleep apnea, a disorder in which breathing is interrupted or weakens during sleep for a few seconds or minutes. There is also a strong connection to sleepwalking, a disorder in which people behave as if they were awake, walking, or doing some activity while asleep. Another condition that sleep speech disorder is connected with is night terrors, episodes of intense fear that usually occur during non-REM phases..
In more extreme cases, spontaneous sleep speech from the age of 25 can be associated with other physical or psychological problems, such as nocturnal seizures.
Some sources even speak of a genetic tendency to experience this type of speech and there are some specific conditions that can cause it, such as lack of sleep, emotional stress, anxiety, depression, alcohol, drugs and some medications.
Sleep has different phases that repeat in 4 or 5 cycles. These phases are mainly divided into Non-REM sleep and REM sleep..
Non-REM sleep is divided into four stages that follow one after the other in a circular cycle. Stage 1 of non-REM sleep is a lighter stage of sleep, whereas in stage 2 brain waves slow down as eye movement stops. Phases 3 and 4 of Non-REM sleep are called deep sleep phases. In these phases the person sleeps soundly and it is very difficult to wake them up. The brain produces delta waves and there is no eye or muscle movement. Already in the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) phase, brain waves are similar to those of an awake person. The eyes move, the heart rate increases and this is when dreams mostly occur.
It seems that between 20 and 25% of night speech is associated with REM sleep, with speech productivity being higher in this phase. While the vast majority of night speech, between 75 and 80%, is associated with Non-REM sleep.
During the deepest stages of sleep, 3 and 4, the content of conversations is more of an offline murmur. But in REM phase and during lightest sleep, in stages 1 and 2, expressions or dialogues are usually more understandable.
As we indicated previously, normally the nocturnal speech disorder is a benign condition that disappears with time and does not require any treatment. When this speech is very persistent and interferes with the sleep of the person and those around him, this is when a sleep specialist would be in charge of ruling out the association with other types of disorders. Some people who live with others whose speech is an impediment to sleep, can take measures such as sleeping in different rooms or wearing earplugs. When this condition is associated with some of the aforementioned disorders, treatments focused on these will be carried out to improve the patient's quality of life..