A viral sleep-talking recording posted to Vimeo is full of both hilarious and disturbing moments that shed some light on the curious phenomenon of somniloquy, the medical term for talking in your sleep.
“For years, filmmaker and editor Adam Rosenberg has been told that he talks in his sleep,” Robby Berman writes for Slate. “[His] video reveals the bizarre stuff he learned about his subconscious when he mounted a handheld Zoom H4n audio recorder over his bed. (The mic you see in the video suspended over a pretend-sleeping Rosenberg is a reenactment—the audio you hear and see transcribed is all real.)”
You can watch the full video below. Be advised that it contains adult language.
Somniloquy is considered an abnormal sleep behavior that falls under the umbrella of parasomnia, disorders that affect the nervous system during sleep. Some other examples of parasomnia include sleep-related eating disorder, sleepwalking, nightmares, sleep paralysis, REM sleep behavior disorder, sleep aggression, and sexsomnia, according to the National Sleep Foundation. And, yes, sexsomnia refers to “sexual acts that are carried out by a person who is sleeping.”
The Somniloquist, A Filmmaker Hilariously Records Himself Talking in His Sleep for Nearly a Year https://t.co/PlzciDEoCB
— Maci Young (@maciwyoung) December 16, 2016
Approximately 10 percent of Americans are affected by some form of parasomnia, to one degree or another. While most forms of parasomnia are generally harmless, they do sometimes have side effects such as sleepiness and irritability during waking hours. There have also been instances of confused and violent reactions by those awoken in the midst of a parasomnic episode.
Researches still are not completely certain of what causes the various forms of parasomnia.
— Neuroscience News (@NeuroscienceNew) December 13, 2016
As might be expected, Rosenberg’s recording showcases a hodgepodge of outbursts and utterances. Some are, more or less, fully formed sentences. Others are simply a series of unintelligible sounds or random words strung together into nonsense.
Some of the most curious (or creepy) moments in the sleep talking video arise when he repeats a word or several similar words over and over again in different tones. Those instances could easily draw comparisons with an artificial intelligence program on the fritz or having a meltdown.
Rosenberg is not the first parasomniac to use his condition as the basis for an artistic project.
Last year Noisey interviewed Steve Venright, the founder of Torpor Vigil Records, which produces albums of sleep talk. Noisey asked Venright about Dion McGregor, “a jobbing 60s songwriter” who turned recordings of his somniloquies into the The Dream World of Dion McGregor in 1964. The album was a “flop” at the time but has maintained a cult following Noisey reports.
The British music magazine Wire referred to the album as “fascinating and bizarre” at the time, according to Noisey.
Famed gothic artist and illustrator Edward Gorey drew cover art for McGregor’s sleep talking album and an illustrated book of 70 “dream transcripts” published under the same title, according to Venright.
Venright listened to a cassette recording of McGregor’s albums years after it had been recorded.
“It was the strangest thing I’d ever heard,” he told Noisey. “Thus began my obsession with the dream world of Dion McGregor.”
But not everybody was a fan of McGregor’s sleep talking. Venright notes that some of McGregor’s hosts and roommates over the years found the habit annoying.
Rosenberg may find himself in the same boat over his sleep talking.
“If you sleep alone, it’s no biggie, and apparently recording it can give you a perplexing peek deep into your psyche,” Berman concludes. “If you don’t, your partner’s liable to find it (a) hilarious, (b) disturbing, (c) annoying, or (d) all of the above, as we understand better after seeing this video.”
[Featured image by Ken Harding/Getty Images]