Sleepwalking and sleeptalking are two common sleep disorders that occur in the first few hours after falling asleep or during deep sleep stage.
Sleepwalkers can be seem at night walking around, standing up and acting like they're awake, but actually, they're still asleep. Just like sleepwalkers, sleeptalkers mumble meaningless things for a minute or so while being deeply asleep. How do these sleep behaviors occur and why? Let's find out.
This sleep behavior causes people (mostly children) to get up during their deepest sleep and walk around, unconsciously. Sleepwalking (somnambulism) occurs when human's normal physiological systems are active at times when they're not supposed to. Scientists are yet to discover why does the brain command to the muscles during deep sleep stage, but they did discover that these commands are triggered by other neurological mechanisms. So when the command is given to the muscles, people wake up and act like they're awake, sometimes with eyes wide open, but they are unable to see anything around them the way they usually see.
After performing some kind of activity that involves walking while sleeping, most sleepwalkers will return to bed on their will. If they wake up during the sleepwalking state, they are confused and unaware of what have happened. There are cases in which sleepwalkers have called their exes, cleaned the house, turned their PC on and even left their house. While the exact causes of sleepwalking are not familiar yet, sleep experts suggest that sleepwalking could be triggered by emotional issues, increased stress, fever, sickness, lack of sleep or that it could run in families (hereditary).
The prevalence of sleepwalking is estimated up to 15%, but it is much higher for children between 3 and 7 years old. Sleepwalking is not usually associated with other psychiatric or psychological problems, so it's not necessarily dangerous for sleepwalkers, unless they injure themselves while sleepwalking. There is a common misconception that you should never wake up a sleepwalker, while actually, it's dangerous to leave them walk around while asleep. If you happen to live with a sleepwalker, it is highly suggested to walk them back to bed and put an end to their sleepy adventures.
Sleeptalking (somniloquy) is another common sleep disorder described as talking during sleep without being conscious and aware of it. This common disorder involves complicated, meaningless and mumbling dialogues and monologues that are hard (if not impossible) to decipher. Sleeptalking occurs during the transition of one non-REM cycle to another, when a person is partially awake. However, it can also occur during REM stage, but in this case, people verbalize their dreams. The sleeping talks are usually brief and in repeated episodes during the night. Most people don't remember a single word they say during sleep, but it's not impossible to do remember.
Sleeptalking could be a consequence of several sleep disorders and other mental conditions, such as REM sleep behavior disorder, night terrors, sleep related eating disorder, stress, lack of sleep, depression, day-time drowsiness, fever and alcohol. In some cases, sleeptalking runs in families, but not without external factors to stimulate this condition. Unfortunately, scientists are still struggling to find a specific reason why people tend to talk while sleeping.
Although anyone can experience sleeptalking and at any age, it is far more common in children and males. Experts suggest that up to 50% of children talk in their sleep up until 10. As they're getting older, only 5% of them continue to talk while sleeping. However, it doesn't necessarily mean that they do it every single night. In people over 25 years with other mental or medical conditions, sleeptalking is more common. Since it is not dangerous, no treatment is required. However, if sleeptalking prevents you from getting a quality sleep on a regular basis, you should talk to a physician about it and try to find an explanation for your sleep condition.