Scientists, who call sleep-talking “somniloquy,” which always makes me imagine a sleeping person declaiming, “To be or not to be…,” put it in a broader group of conditions called parasomnias.
Parasomnias are any sort of disturbing thing that happens while you’re asleep, while you’re falling asleep, or while you’re waking up. They range from familiar problems like nightmares and bedwetting to oddities like sleep-eating and – I kid you not – Exploding Head Syndrome.
While the causes of these disorders are various, sleep-talking and sleepwalking – which often go together – come from a failure of the body and the brain to disconnect during sleep.
Normally when you’re lightly asleep, you may roll over in bed or toss and turn, but otherwise, don’t move much. When you’re in the deepest stage of sleep – dreaming sleep, or REM sleep – your voluntary muscles usually become completely paralyzed.
Growing into sleep
However, it takes a while for this capacity to develop.
If you’ve had a baby or two, you may have noticed how restless and noisy they can often be while they’re sound asleep. Fortunately, since babies’ muscles haven’t developed much either, they usually don’t go anywhere beyond their cribs.
When kids get older, their sleep patterns keep changing – the amount of time they need to sleep, their circadian rhythm, the percentage of time they spend dreaming, and so on. That’s why children, in general, are prone to parasomnias, including sleep-talking, but they usually outgrow them
Given this background, though, parasomnias recur once in a while for most adults.
Often these are invisible to other people, but some can find themselves talking, walking, eating, having sex, or doing scarier things while completely unconscious.
Sometimes this comes from acting out dreams, but not always.
Talking can happen in both dreaming and non-dreaming sleep states. When people are dreaming the usually speak intelligibly, if bizarrely, but if they aren’t dreaming it’s just gibberish.
Talking in your sleep: is it dangerous?
Talking in your sleep is usually harmless, but if it happens a lot, it could signal some underlying health problem.
Somniloquy more likely happens if there’s some disruption to the normal sleep cycle.
This can come from a variety of things – drug and alcohol use (or withdrawal), various medications, other sleep disorders like sleep apnea, or budding brain ailments.
If you suspect you might have one of those issues, definitely go to your doctor and get it checked out.
Otherwise, ordinary people can have sleep-talking episodes when their sleep becomes disrupted by jet lag or shift work, or when life brings them anxiety and stress.
How to stop talking in your sleep: natural CBD relief
When it comes to CBD and sleep, there may be no better natural alternative.
CBD works by targeting the endocannabinoid system, which plays an important role in keeping your body in a stable and balanced state called homeostasis. The sleep-wake cycle is known as a “homeostatic process” since the proper sequence of sleeping and waking is vital to keeping everything in balance.
While CBD for talking in your sleep needs further research, CBD has shown to affect some of the same bodily systems that cause these symptoms.
More specifically, clinical studies have shown that CBD can help both anxiety and sleep, due to its calming powers. By working with certain receptors that relax the body, CBD has the power to diminish many of the preliminary signs of sleep talking.
Unlike many other sleep aids, CBD also doesn’t seem to mess with the natural sleep-wake cycle, and so is more likely to produce proper sleep.
If something like jet lag is throwing you off your circadian rhythm, or if your circadian rhythm just isn’t like other people’s, you also might try melatonin.
Melatonin is a naturally-produced hormone that governs the sleep-wake cycle, and has become one of the most popular natural sleep aids. When taken together, CBD and melatonin can be a powerful combo for a truly restful night’s sleep.
Tips for healthy sleep
On top of that, there are a lot of other things you can do to ensure a restful night, which the experts call “sleep hygiene:”
- Try to go to bed and get up at around the same time each day. Staying up late on weekends can throw off your body clock.
- Keep your bedroom dark, and let things get darker before and during sleep. Try to minimize the time you spend looking at bright electronic screens before bedtime, or dim them.
- Don’t read, eat, watch TV, etc. while you’re in bed. Preserve the bed just for sleep so you’ll associate it with rest.
- Try to keep the bedroom quiet. If you can't ignore some ambient noise, use earplugs.
- Avoid heavy meals before bed. They can feel sedating in the short term, but as your body digests the food, it turns into energy, disturbing your sleep.
- Avoid heavily drinking alcohol. A little bit before bed is fine, but a lot of it knocks you out, and then your body rebounds throughout the night.
- Try to avoid caffeine in the evening. A lot of people swear it does not affect them, but it may have more negative effects than you realize.
- Avoid drinking a whole lot of anything before bed. You don’t want to be thirsty, but you also don’t want your bladder to disturb you in the night.
- Drops in temperature is one of the things that signal your body that it’s nighttime. So if your room is chilly, it’s better to just add an extra blanket.
- Be as physically active as possible throughout the day, so you’ll be more tired at night. Don’t take naps for longer than 30 minutes – we know, that’s tough.
If you’re a sleep-talker or you live with one, you want to create a relaxing evening routine rather than expect to switch off the day and instantly fall asleep.
You might find that that’s better for everybody’s health, not just for the sleep talker!
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