Sleep talking is pretty common among children, estimates are that a little over half of all children have talked in their sleep before (Wolchover). Sleep talking becomes a lot less common as people age, experts estimate that only 5 percent of adults sleep talk, sleep specialists are not sure why but apparently men sleep talk more commonly than women. (Steinberg).
The science behind sleep talking: “Sleep talking could be a sign of a more serious sleep disorder such as sleep apnea, night terrors, or REM behavior disorder (when an individual acts out dreams by moving or talking). Sleep talking may also occur when a person experiences a fever, sleep deprivation, depression, stress or consumes alcohol or drugs before bed” (Steinberg). These other factors affecting sleep talking could make for a useful experiment if sleep talking was something that people wanted to get more information on
People that are made aware that they sleep talk by someone, including myself, worry that they will say something embarrassing or strange while they are sleep talking, however this is nothing to worry about. Anything said during sleep is not a conscious thought that the person is having during the day or a secret that the person does not want anyone to know. Words spoken during sleep are usually just spoken conversation from the dream that person is having. I’ve had a few instances where I have kind of known that I was sleep talking. There was one specific instance where I was starting to wake up but still talked in my sleep, in my dream someone had asked me a question and I answered it out loud and realized it. I don’t remember what I was answering or what I said, but it was not anything exciting or abnormal. My roommate freshman year said that he would hear me sleep talking sometimes, but it wasn’t anything crazy, just normal conversations from my dream.
Some questions I would have about this data is where did it come from? There does not seem to be any data reported or collected on sleep talking. It appears as if these percentages are only estimates based on times where people report that they or their partner, child, roommate, brother, or sister are sleep talking. It may not be worthwhile to do a major study on sleep talking because it does not seem to be a major issue, unless it is so bad that someone is being kept up nightly from their partner’s sleep talking and not getting any sleep.
So what’s the big deal about sleep talking? For most people it is not a big deal, and if you are someone that is made aware of your sleep talking, don’t be worried about disclosing your biggest secrets at night. Sleep talking is only a problem if it is affecting your or someone else’s nightly sleep, but some people may enjoy hearing the occasional outburst at night. A woman named Karen greatly enjoyed her husband’s sleep talking and was disappointed when it suddenly stopped, saying, “”I do miss Sleep Talkin’ Man.” “Every once in a while he will grunt in the middle of the night like he would when sleep talking, and I’ll say, ‘Oh maybe he’s going to talk!’ and he never does”” (Steinberg) It really depends on the person if you will be someone that is going to be bothered by your partner sleep talking, but the take away message is that if you sleep talk do not worry about what you say, even admissions of guilt while sleep talking do not hold up in court! A person cannot control what they say while they sleep and what a person says while sleep talking should not be taken literally or for fact.