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  • What most of us call sleep talking, scientists refer to as somniloquy, and our bed partners

  • or roommates may call annoying. An estimated two in three people talk in their sleep at

  • some point in their lives. But why do we do this

  • and who do we think were speaking to?

  • Many people think of sleep as the brain shutting

  • off. Curtains. Lights out. But our brains are actually quite active during slumber.

  • Throughout the night, we cycle through two types of sleep: Rapid Eye Movement, or REM,

  • and non-REM, which has three stages. As we move through each stage, our brain waves progressively

  • fall into lower frequencies and higher amplitudes until we reach deep, slow-wave sleep at stage

  • 3. Sleep talk can happen at any point during

  • what scientists calltransitory arousal”, which is when a sleeper becomes half awake

  • while transitioning from one stage to the next. Interestingly, the quality of our speech

  • here decreases as we move closer toward stage 3.

  • After stage 3 we enter REM sleep. This is when our eyes rapidly move behind closed lids

  • and our brain activity becomes closer to how it is when we're awake.

  • There are two different structures in the brain that control when were awake and

  • when were asleep, sort of like a light switch. One is the Reticular Activating System,

  • or RAS, a complex network of neurons located in the brain stem. It releases chemical messengers

  • called neurotransmitters that promote wakefulness and help regulate our sleep-wake cycles. The

  • other system, the Ventrolateral Preoptic Nucleus, or VLPO, is located in the hypothalamus. It

  • releases neurotransmitters that bring on sleep by suppressing neural activity to the RAS.

  • During REM, the VLPO structure releases powerful neurotransmitters that work together to inhibit

  • motor neurons and prevent you from acting out your dreams of flying. Which ends up being

  • pretty useful, because most of our dreams occur during REM sleep, and theyre typically

  • more vivid. Any sleep talking that may accompany those dreams is related to the failure of

  • neurotransmitters in the VLPO to fully stop you from moving around.

  • This is what researchers call a “motor breakthrough.” Our mouth and vocal cords, usually inactive

  • during REM sleep, are briefly switched on causing us to sleep talk. And there’s

  • no telling what you might say. Everything from polite conversation to full-on monologues

  • have been reported! Sleep talking is also linked to the nervous

  • system being overstimulated by anxiety and stress. Alcohol, caffeine, and too much screen time

  • before bed can also have an effect.

  • Although a lot of us have talked in our sleep at some point in our lives,

  • overall it’s still relatively

  • rare. Even frequent sleep talkers may only talk every four nights or so and it might

  • just consist of only a few words. Up until now, people assumed that talking

  • to someone sleeping was about as productive as speaking to a log. But an international

  • team of researchers is trying to shift this notion by taking an interactive approach to

  • studying sleep. Theyre using lucid dreaming, a state in which the sleeper is aware theyre

  • dreaming, to probe the slumbering mind. So far, theyve found that lucid dreamers can

  • be trained to do simple math, answer yes-or-no questions, and even tell the difference between

  • sensory stimuli...all while in REM sleep! Perhaps one day, researchers will be able

  • to hear about our dreams directly from our nocturnal chit-chat. We could ask people questions

  • while theyre dreaming, coach them through nightmares, and be inspired by the wild surrealism

  • of the dream world. Now that’s what I call pillow talk!

  • Sleep experts say that a routine before bed can help you get a night of uninterrupted

  • sleep. And if you watch Maren’s video on how cerebrospinal fluid cleans the brain as

  • you sleep, you will understand why that’s so important! What’s the weirdest thing

  • youve ever said, or heard someone say while sleeping? Let us know in the comments below.

  • Make sure to subscribe and thanks for watching.

What most of us call sleep talking, scientists refer to as somniloquy, and our bed partners

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The Surprising Reason Why You Talk in Your Sleep

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    Summer posted on 2021/10/03
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