If you’re like most people, you’re pretty sure you don’t do anything strange while you’re asleep… but if you’re honest, you can’t be 100% certain.
Abnormal sleep behaviors are classified as parasomnias — and they’re becoming increasingly common (1). Some sleep clinics have reported a 5x jump in cases in the last decade alone.
Want to know if you should consider heading to the sleep clinic? Read on to explore the 5 weirdest things people do in their sleep.
And remember: if you recognize yourself in the list below, rest assured that you’re not alone.
Sleep talking, formally known as somniloquy, occurs when a person is fully asleep and completely unaware that they’re speaking. The speech can be anything from full monologues to short sentences, demands, confessions or just plain gibberish.
Thankfully, most things said during a spell of sleep talking are random and irrelevant — so if your friends or partner were to overhear you talking in your sleep, there’s a good chance there wouldn’t be any negative repercussions (except maybe a bad night’s sleep).
For some people, alcohol, drugs, and stress may be to blame for sleep chatter — so if you’ve been told you talk in your sleep, it may be worth cutting down on those things for a while, to see if doing so helps.
Incidentally, many people are unaware that they talk in their sleep until told by others — so if you normally sleep by yourself, you may be talking in your sleep without knowing it.
It may sound like an elaborate excuse for texting your ex at 3 a.m. (again)… but sleep texting is actually a thing (2).
Most people sleep with their phones within reachable distance of their beds, giving the unconscious brain the means to take over and send a text — often, one that gives autocorrect a run for its money.
The explanation behind sleep texting is somewhat simple.
Sometimes, your brain is not fully asleep, though the part of your brain that allows you to be fully awake is turned off.
When the familiar chime of a message comes through, your brain goes on autopilot and recognizes that you have an incoming message that will require a response.
Since the part of your brain that coordinates physical movement may still be fully firing, out goes an indecipherable message to Emma from accounting.
If you wake up finding strange sent messages on your phone, it may be best to
place your phone in a separate room before bed.
Sleep eating occurs when someone consumes food or drink during sleep with no recollection the next morning.
Foods consumed are usually high-fat, high-sugar, high-carb “comfort foods.” (3) Some people even whip up strange concoctions for their sleepy midnight snacks, such as hot dogs dipped in peanut butter or raw chicken with confetti sprinkles.
Some people binge eat excessive amounts of food or even eat toxic substances while they’re asleep. These habits are dangerous and classified as a Sleep-Related Eating Disorder (SRED).
Many people only begin to suspect that they’re eating in their sleep when they experience unexplained weight gain — so if you’ve been struggling to lose weight despite eating well all day, it might be worth keeping an eye out for unexplained kitchen messes in the morning.
People who sleep eat often feel ashamed or embarrassed by their actions. If you are a sleep eater, don’t worry, you are not alone. Unlike sleep talking though, sleep eating may cause health problems. It’s worth seeing a professional if you have any concerns.
Sleepwalking is one of the most common abnormal sleep behaviors. Typically, it affects young children who outgrow it by their early teens — but many adults sleepwalk too.
Sleepwalking occurs during a deep phase of sleep when your body becomes mobile, allowing you to walk and complete other physical tasks while remaining fully asleep and unaware of your surroundings (4).
People have been known to leave their house and drive long distances, climb tall structures and even commit crimes while asleep.
While most sleepwalking occurrences are harmless, if you suspect that you sleepwalk, it’s important to keep yourself in a safe environment at night with locked doors and windows. And if your child sleepwalks, make sure they are not in a bunk bed or near a window.
#5: Acting out Dreams (RBD)
People who act out their dreams have what’s called REM Behavior Disorder (RBD) and are often a danger to themselves and others.
Those with RBD are deficient in dopamine, the chemical that helps paralyze your body during sleep so you don’t act out your dreams.
Just take it from comedian Mike Birbiglia (5), who lives with a severe case of RBD and even has to sleep in a separate, locked room from his wife and child, zipped up in a padlocked sleeping bag.
One of Birbiglia’s painfully true stories of RBD takes place in a hotel room he was staying in once while on tour. He was sleep deprived, stressedand overstimulated by technology. He dreamt of being in a war, where he was told that a guided missile was heading straight for him.
In his dream, he decided to jump away from the missile. In real life, however, he ended up jumping out of a second story window, landing on the ground below among shattered glass. Still asleep, he got up and continued running away from the missile.
He slowly began to wake up and realize that he was half naked, majorly injured and running across the hotel lawn.
Those with RBD face major difficulties with their sleep health. If you think you may have RBD, seek out professional advice.
Sweet (Weird) Dreams
So there you have it, the 5 weirdest things people do in their sleep.
Whether you talk, eat, text, walk, act out dreams (or stay totally still) in your sleep, we wish you a peaceful night of rest.
(1) Winterman, Denise.“Sleep: Weird things people do in their sleep." BBC News Magazine, 28 Nov. 2012, www.bbc.com/news/magazine-20340562
(2) Peters, Brandon MD."Is It Possible to Send Text Messages While Asleep?" Verywell Health, 19 Jun. 2019, www.verywellhealth.com/is-it-possible-to-send-text-messages-while-asleep-3014943
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