When I visited my college boyfriend at his father’s house in Virginia, his forward-thinking family gave us permission to sleep in the same room. (Score!) Around 4 a.m., we awoke, staring into each other’s eyes in sheer terror. Someone was screaming, wailing really, in a voice I hadn’t heard since drop-off time at preschool: “Mom! MOM!”
It was me.
Though it’s one of my most embarrassing experiences to date, it also prompted me to consider: Do I always sleep-talk? And, considering that I usually sleep alone these days, how would I know?
Apparently, I’m not the only one to wonder. A Swedish app called Sleep Talk Recorder lets users record themselves while sleeping. MadinSweden, the company behind it, plans to make a documentary based on the data they collect.
Since the app launched in Sweden in 2010, more than two million people have recorded their nighttime mumblings, Mashable reported. The way the app works is pretty smart: It only records a few seconds worth of sounds at a time, so you won’t have to listen to seven hours of silence in hopes of catching a single snore. Once they listen to their nighttime ramblings, users have the option to (anonymously) upload the recordings to the main feed on the app’s homepage. The app’s site already features snippets of real-life recordings from sleep-talkers across the globe. (For a laugh, check out “had a wee?” by user “underpants.”)
Sleep Talk Recorder also has an option to give feedback about listening to ourselves sleeptalk. According to MadinSweden co-founder Martin Lindau, the company's already received a bunch of interesting stories, including one man who said he learned more about his sleep apnea symptoms. By providing this technology, Lindau said, “We actually have helped someone to get a better life.”
It’s hard to find hard stats on sleep-talking, or somniloquy, but experts say it’s a sleep disorder that involves speaking during sleep without knowing it. Genetics play a big role in sleep-talking, but other factors like stress, fever, sleep deprivation, and alcohol can make it a lot worse Sleeptalking in twins: epidemiology and psychiatric comorbidity. Hublin, C., Kaprio, J., Partinen, M., et al. Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, Finland. Behavioral Genetics 1998;28(4):289-98.. And while anyone can start shouting for pizza on a boat in the middle of the night, sleep-talking is most common in men and kids.
Would you use Sleep Talk Recorder to see if you talk in your sleep? Let us know in the comments below or tweet the author directly @ShanaDLebowitz.