No, you’re not revealing your deepest secrets.
“That’s where all my farts go,” Adam Rosenberg says in his now-viral YouTube video. Well, he says it while he’s sleep talking. Rosenberg set up an audio recorder in his bedroom and recorded himself sleep talking every night for an entire year. Then, he created a video of his best sleep musings, and they’re all wonderfully random. A sampling: “Just add look dust! Da looky as cause you act like a booger cause, you fuzzy. Cause it fancy.” And my personal favorite sleep saying of his: “Once a brown hanny banny hanny pranny spoony spooner. Round a penny two away. Poppa ganny rolls!” Over 300,000 people have watched his video— titled “The Somniloquist”— since it debuted on December 12. And it got us wondering: What does sleep talking actually mean?
Sleep talking is known by sleep experts as “somniloquy,” which explains the title of Rosenberg’s video. The National Sleep Foundation describes the sleep disorder as “talking during sleep without being aware of it.” It can involve complete gibberish and mumbling (ex. “Hanny banny hanny pranny”), or complicated monologues that contextually make sense (ex. “That’s where all my farts go”). Sleep talking is typically easier to understand when someone is in the early stages of sleep (stages 1 and 2). In later parts of the sleep cycle (stages 3 and 4), sleep talking is usually more moans and groans.
What freaks people out the most about sleep talking: People typically don’t remember doing it when they wake up. And the voices and language a person uses while sleep talking might be different from their typical speech habits. So when people like Rosenberg record their sleep musings, it’s pretty hilarious to hear back. Anyone can experience sleep talking, but it’s more common in men and children. “Sleep walking and sleep talking occurs in roughly 25 percent of children and then around one percent of adults, so it’s not like it’s this unbelievably rare type of scenario,” Michael Breus, Ph.D., a sleep specialist and author of The Power Of When, tells SELF.
If your bed partner sleep talks, you might find yourself tuning in to see if they ~reveal~ anything juicy about themselves. But Breus says what someone says while they’re sleep talking isn’t worth analyzing. “There’s no data to suggest that [sleep talking] is either predictive in nature or kind of gives you a window into their subconscious or anything like that,” he says. The National Sleep Foundation says sometimes sleep talking might relate to a person’s past experiences and relationships, but it still isn’t a “product of a conscious or rational mind.”
What sleep talking does most likely mean: A person is sleep deprived. “Most of the time it’s due to either something causing sleep deprivation or there already is a high level of sleep deprivation,” Breus says. The National Sleep Foundation also says stress, depression, daytime drowsiness, alcohol, and fever can cause sleep talking. Underlying medical conditions could also cause sleep deprivation, leading to sleep talking. This includes sleep apnea, a sleep disorder where breathing is repeatedly interrupted during sleep. In very rare cases, frequent sleep talking that starts in adulthood could be associated with a psychiatric disorder or nocturnal seizures.
For most people, sleep talking is a short-lived phenomenon and no treatment is really necessary. But if it’s severe—occurring every night and disrupting a bed partner—and/or lasts for over a year, the National Sleep Foundation recommends seeing your primary care physician to see if there’s an underlying medical cause. When patients come to Breus for sleep talking treatment, he usually tells them to increase their sleep quantity and quality. That typically does the trick.
“With my patients, I increase their overall sleep and decrease things that are disrupting their sleep—so decrease caffeine, decrease alcohol, decrease stress before bed,” Breus says. “Those types of things can then really help make the situation literally go away by itself.”
If you’re sharing a bed with a sleep talker, Breus recommends good ol’ ear plugs or a white noise machine to keep your own sleep undisturbed. And know that if you try to talk to a sleep talker, you’re not going to uncover their deepest darkest secrets. “There used to be this old wive’s tale that said, ‘Just wait until [a partner] is asleep and ask them a bunch of questions and you’ll really find out what’s going on,’” he says. “But that really doesn’t occur.”
Check out Adam Rosenberg’s viral sleep talking video here.