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How to survive sleeping with a sleep talker

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Do you or a loved one talk in your sleep? It’s a common sleep problem for many, experts say.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, about 50 percent of children will talk in their sleep — and usually outgrow it — while only about 5 percent of adults are nighttime talkers. However, about 60 to 65 percent of adults will experience at least one episode of nocturnal speech in their lifetime, according to the academy.

Sleep soliloquies can occur at any stage of sleep, not just during rapid eye movement (REM), the stage where dreams occur, experts say. These one-sided conversations are usually harmless and may include whispers, moans, and nonsense words, as well as vulgar language and outright yelling.

At this point, a bed partner may stop viewing chatter as fun and start looking for ways to protect their own sleep, said sleep disorders specialist Dr. Carlos Schenck, a professor and senior psychiatrist at the University Medical Center. Hennepin County at the university. of Minnesota.

“There are some things you, the bed partner, can do to save your sleep,” Schenck said. “But first make sure there are no hidden issues that could be causing the problem.”



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Somniloquy, or somniloquy, may be linked to mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety. According to the Cleveland Clinic, medications intended to treat depression and other mental health disorders, high blood pressure, seizures, asthma, and, oddly enough, other sleep disorders can also cause sleep talking.

“If your partner has never sleep talked and suddenly starts sleep talking after age 50, and it becomes louder and more frequent, then you really should see your doctor for a neurological evaluation,” Schenck said. “This could be the first sign of a neurodegenerative disease, such as Parkinson’s disease.”

Obstructive sleep apnea – a serious sleep disorder in which people stop breathing for 10 seconds to two minutes 30 or more times per hour – can also cause the brain to partially wake up and start chattering. Bed partners are often the first to notice sleep apnea, observing a complete cessation of breathing, followed by a gasp of air.

Acid reflux or its more serious cousin, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), can also create partial excitement that can trigger the brain to speak, Schenck said.

Tips for Managing Sleep Talking

A white noise generator or loud fan is an excellent defense, said Jennifer Mundt, assistant professor of sleep medicine, psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago.

“Earplugs or comfortable noise-canceling headphones can also help,” she said. Earplugs come in many forms: expandable foam, pre-molded and custom molded versions, created to precisely fit the shape and size of the ear canal.

“Then try to fall asleep before the sleeping person speaks so that you won’t be easily awakened.” That’s where a white noise generator or a loud fan can be very, very helpful,” Schenck said.

Now it’s time to do some detective work. Work with your bed partner to discover triggers for their sleep conversations, such as stress, drinking alcohol, lack of sleep, not following a normal sleep schedule, or even sleeping in a new environment, experts say.

For some people, something as harmless as being on vacation or sleeping in a new place can trigger an episode, Mundt said.

“In those moments, your brain is a little more alert because you’re in a new environment, and that means you’re more susceptible has We have this partial wakefulness, where part of the brain is awake and the other part is asleep,” Mundt said.

Ultimately, it’s the sleeping person’s responsibility to take ownership of their disorder and find solutions to stop disrupting their partner’s sleep, Schenck said.

“The person who sleep talks should be very caring toward their partner,” Schenck said. “If sleeping on your back makes it worse, get a nightgown where you can put a tennis ball in the back of the shirt so you can’t sleep on your back.”

And if drinking is a trigger, it should also be stopped or reduced, he said. “Eliminate alcohol so you can share your consideration for the bed partner who is disturbed by your conversations while you sleep.”

Sleep talking is a parasomnia, in the same category as night terrors, sleep eating, sleep paralysis, and sleep sex. All are wakefulness disorders, in which part of the brain wakes while the rest sleeps.

Parasomnias are often hereditary, and you are more likely to have them if you had one as a child. If more than one first-degree relative has parasomnia, then it is much more likely that the child’s sleep behaviors will continue or recur into adulthood, Schenck said.

“There is no way to predict that you will develop parasomnia. Some people who slept while talking or walking as children resume this behavior as adults, but many others do not,” he said.

Sleep conversations often occur spontaneously “in a rather unpredictable way.” Schenck said, although it can sometimes occur after a fever or emotional stress. However, “sleep talking must be differentiated from catathrenia, a sleep-related breathing disorder typically characterized by moaning during sleep.”

Many people who talk in their sleep do not need medical treatment, but if the disorder is severe, there are treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy, designed to help identify and reduce stress triggers and symptoms. negative thoughts about sleep.

Good sleep hygiene, such as going to bed and getting up at the same time each day, avoiding caffeine after 3 p.m., and eliminating bedroom light, including screens such as smartphones, laptops, and televisions, can also help.

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