I may be one of the rare people that are more active when ASLEEP than AWAKE. I talk, scream, sing, swear, appearenly pretend to play videogames and lose at them, snore, gurgle,...
Originally Published: July 1, 2005 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: January 20, 2011
My entire life I have always talked in my sleep. According to my parents, it is just something I do. Both my parents say that it is almost impossible to sleep with me because I'm constantly kicking people, screaming, moaning, grunting, or anything else active in my sleep.
It's never been a problem for me, because I never remember doing any of it, unless I wake myself up while screaming. But now that I'm living with my fiancé it has become a problem. He's a lite sleeper and well... I'm not. So when I'm moving around I wake him up, and he never gets a full night's sleep. He's even occassionaly taken to sleeping on the couch. So I was wondering if there was any methods medically or herbal which might be able to stop my over-active sleeping patterns.
Sleep talking and other parasomnias, or disorders that disrupt sleep, such as periodic limb movement (PLM) and restless leg syndrome (RLS), are pretty common. PLM is defined as periodic movements or jerking of one's legs or arms for at least two seconds and can occur anywhere from five times per hour to every 20 to 40 seconds. RLS describes an irrepressible compulsion to move one's legs as a reflex to an uncontrollable and disagreeable sensation. While common, the exact causes of these sleep interruptions are unknown. Luckily, health care providers treat sleep talking, restless leg syndrome, and other movements people make during sleep.
For sleep talkers, underlying psychological and physical factors, such as stress, lack of sleep, not eating enough, or heavy meals just before bedtime, may be the cause. The following are ways to address sleep talking:
- Getting a sufficient amount of sleep — lack of sleep causes stress in some people, which in turn, can lead to sleep talking
- Relaxation exercises, such as meditation
- Avoiding heavy meals before bedtimes
- Maintaining a regular sleep schedule
- Cutting back on or eliminating caffeine and nicotine
- Reducing alcohol consumption
- Aiming to reduce overall stress — relaxation techniques, exercise, and speaking with friends and a professional counselor at Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) are all great ways to lower stress levels
To manage leg kicking and jerking of one's body suddenly during sleep, see a health care provider, who will most likely ask for a medical history. Lab tests may be ordered to check for vitamin or mineral deficiencies that could trigger sudden movements during sleep. Finally, to complete this comprehensive assessment, the medical provider may suggest that you spend a night in a sleep lab, so that staff can chart and analyze body movements, air intake, brain and heart activity, and other bodily functions through a polysomnography. This tool tracks many physiological activities simultaneously. Using this information, the provider can determine if there are any other reasons that may be contributing to the PLM and/or RLS. Examples of such disorders include sleep apnea, anemia, narcolepsy, and mineral deficiencies, such as potassium. Once a diagnosis has been made, the health care provider can then recommend treatment, which could include medications or supplements such as:
- Iron supplements to treat anemia
- Potassium supplements to treat cramping and spasms, especially in the legs
- Sleeping pills and sedatives to induce deep sleep and lessen the occurrence of sudden bodily jerks during sleep
- Dopaminergics, medication usually used for treating the uncontrollable shaking and tremors associated with Parkinson's Disease
Besides the moving around and talking in your sleep, you may want to address this situation with your fiancé. From your question, it appears as if you two may not have discussed his sleeping on the couch approach to dealing with your sleep issues. You cannot tell your fiancé what to talk about, as only he knows his true thoughts and feelings concerning your movements during sleep and the consequent disruption of his sleep cycle. However, you may want to tell him that you are going to deal with the situation by seeking medical advice. Having this conversation, and showing him this letter, might help you on your way to sharing a bed in peaceful slumber.
In the meantime, with the help of your health care provider, or a referral to a sleep specialist, you can learn how to manage your sleep conditions, because even reducing the incidences of them can be of benefit to you both.
You can check out the following resources for more information:
September 11, 200821299
I may be one of the rare people that are more active when ASLEEP than AWAKE. I talk, scream, sing, swear, appearenly pretend to play videogames and lose at them, snore, gurgle, sleepwalk, and on one occasion I have sleep COOKED. I often fall asleep in one location and wake up in another! I find this pretty humourous but I'm guessing it won't be so funny when I'm living with someone — AND sleeping in the same bed as them.
Thanks alot for the tips! The sleep patern thing really helped! Now people can't take embarasing videos of me giving instructions of how to get to pluto!
December 1, 200621126
Thanks for this info — and thanks to the person who asked the question. My husband has a tendency to jerk somewhat violently as he's falling asleep. It doesn't happen all the time,...
Thanks for this info — and thanks to the person who asked the question. My husband has a tendency to jerk somewhat violently as he's falling asleep. It doesn't happen all the time, and he's never hurt himself or me when he's being "Mr. Twitchy" (although he's come close). He also sometimes speaks, but more often mumbles, and even laughs and sings in his sleep. I actually find this pretty adorable!
From what you've told us, I think these things may be related to his irregular sleep habits. He genuinely needs less sleep than I do, but he also doesn't like to sleep. He likes to "get things done" and will do what looks to me like deliberate sleep-deprivation as he gets absorbed in projects at the computer or stays up reading. Understandably, it's harder for him to fall asleep once he's stayed up working on things that his mind is still engaged in. We talk about the issue sometimes, but he doesn't see any need for regular sleep patterns. And of course, since I need more sleep than he does, my sleep can get disrupted by his inconsistent hours. We talk about that, too, but there doesn't seem to be a good solution. Neither of us likes sleeping apart (he's my sweetie!).
An additional wrinkle is that he has severe seasonal allergies and congestion problems, which can cause him to have difficulty breathing while lying flat. When it gets bad, he sleeps propped up and has an even harder time falling asleep, so he'll move to the sofa to avoid keeping me awake.
I guess I'm in a similar boat to the writer who is so active during sleep — when sleeping with your partner becomes a problem. I also feel like we have two problems here: our sleep needs that don't match up well (a personal/emotional thing), and any health risks we might incur through disrupted sleep.