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Sleep Talking is Funny, and Educational

Do you talk in your sleep or know someone who does? Harvard sleep researchers are looking for you.

We all know crazy things can happen when we sleep. If nothing else, our dreams can be super bizarre. But sleep talking can be pretty funny. Maybe your partner sounds like this during a snooze?

“Run it around—run it around. Spin that lazy susan and everybody take what they want off it! Hurry—hurry. Grab it—grab grab grab grab. We’re playing food roulette—food roulette! We have a poisoned éclair on there and somebody’s gonna get it. We don’t know which one’s the poisoned éclair! Spin-spin-spin-spiiin that lazy susan!”

OK, maybe not. That awesome snippet is from Dion McGregor, a famed sleep talker who died in the nineties but whose crazy, hilarious “somniloquies“—bursts of sleep talking that sometimes stretched on for minutes—were recorded by his roommate in the 1950s.

McGregor’s sleep talking is immortalized in an album released in March, Dreaming Like Mad with Dion McGregor. Trust us, it’s highly entertaining.

Recently on NPR, two psychologist sleep experts from Harvard Medical School discussed his case.

According to one of them, modern technology is giving us more and more access to what happens while we’re asleep. Scientists can measure brain waves in their labs. And now even average Joes can record themselves sleep talking with apps on their smartphones that kick in when they detect words in the dead of night.

Maybe your phone could record something like this…

“The horseshoe crabs came up and peeked! Oh, they peeked and they wink. There are waves. Yes, those waves, dark waves, lowering clouds, horseshoe crabs. It was all very, very timorous.”

Timorous?? Wow, great word. That’s McGregor again. Listen to the NPR piece—it’s funny…and educational.

McGregor’s sleep talking isn’t exactly normal. It goes on much longer than the typical few seconds. And it seems more on topic and coherent than usual. It may indicate atypical sleep, but it’s hard to know from a roommate’s recordings.

The two psychologists, Drs. Deirdre Barrett and Robert Stickgold, said they would’ve loved to study McGregor to learn what sleep stage he was in and whether he was recounting a dream or just randomly talking. (Most sleep talking doesn’t occur during REM sleep, the stage when we dream, because our bodies are typically paralyzed then.)

So clearly, you should tell all of the sleep talkers you know to start recording. They could become famous and contribute to science, as well as humor, for posterity.

“We’d love to get them into the lab,” Stickgold told NPR.

Send us your funny sleep talking stories so we can give you a shout out on Facebook and make everyone chuckle. Sleep tight, Urbanites!