Does your bed partner talk in their sleep?


Using a white noise machine is one way of helping the partner of a sleep talker sleep more soundly. — TNS

Parasomnia is a blanket term for pesky behaviours that wreak havoc on your sleep.

A third of American adults get less than the recommended amount of shut-eye, a struggle linked to chronic diseases ranging from depression to type 2 diabetes.

Some parasomnias, however, don’t just affect the sleeper; they can affect others within earshot.

A common parasomnia plaguing Americans is somniloquy, better known as talking in your sleep.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, it’s a disorder that affects up to 65% of the population at some point during their lives.

And it can be significantly disruptive to bedfellows.

“There are some things you, the bed partner, can do to save your sleep,” University of Minnesota Hennepin County Medical Center senior staff psychiatrist Professor Dr Carlos Schenck told CNN.

“But first, make sure there are no hidden issues that might be causing the problem.”

The academy reported that, by itself, sleep talking is harmless.

But it can also be a symptom of another, more harmful sleep disorder.

“If your sleep-talking episodes increase in frequency, emerge at an older age, or are accompanied by other symptoms such as limb movements or daytime sleepiness, you should talk to your medical provider,” the academy said.

“In many cases, treatment is not needed.

“If sleep talking is a symptom of another sleep disorder, your medical provider will treat the underlying condition.”

Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine assistant professor of sleep medicine, psychiatry and behavioural sciences Dr Jennifer Mundt told CNN that the first line of defence against losing sleep to a bedfellow’s somniloquy is a white noise generator – a loud fan will do.

“Earplugs or comfortable noise-cancelling headphones may also help,” she said.

Assist Prof Schenck added that it can be helpful to go to bed before your sleep-talking partner.

Once you’re asleep, it will be more difficult for them to keep you up all night.

There is no way to predict when a person will develop a parasomnia, but a little detective work can help reveal a partner’s sleep-talking triggers.

“The person who is sleep talking has to be very considerate of the partner,” she said.

“If sleeping on your back makes it worse, then get a nightshirt where you can put a tennis ball in the back of the shirt so that you can’t sleep on your back.”

Common triggers include stress, alcohol, sleep deprivation, sleep pattern disruption or sleeping in a new environment. – By Hunter Boyce/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Tribune News Service

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