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I hear the secrets that you keep

When you're talkin' in your sleep
The Romantics, "Talkin' In Your Sleep"

Dreams, occurring in REM (no, not that REM) are the subconscious mind's way of rooting through thoughts and concepts the brain is trying to process while the owner of the brain is sleeping. When a sleeper is dreaming, they sometimes also talk. In Real Life, these verbal fragments are seldom coherent, let alone linear -- ah, but this is fictionland...

In fiction and media, anything spoken whilst dreaming is intelligible and (usually) deeply meaningful, offering up insights into the hidden life of our heroes. The Bully may reveal himself as a Bruiser with a Soft Center or a Jerk with a Heart of Gold though he's still obnoxious while awake. Your tough-as-nails Mama Bear may have nightmares about things from her past, which of course gives The Hero something to comfort her over. The Stoic may show his hidden fears. Your shy Shrinking Violet may call out the name of the one she loves in her sleep, though she never gives a hint while awake (bonus points if she does so rather... passionately).

If it isn't one of the above, most likely there will be crucial information imparted. Even if the sleeper knows all the secrets in the story, the one piece of information the listener needs will be what is murmured between nonsensical babbles. If something delicate is revealed there's a good chance that the listener will misunderstand it and causes hilarity to ensue.

Can just as often lead to tragedy, depending on the secrets spoken and who's been overhearing or listening.

A common variation involves the 'sleeper' pretending to talk in his sleep to misdirect eavesdroppers.

Supernatural intrusion into dreams is a method of justifying the dreamer speaking in lucid sentences. Nor is this trope restricted to natural slumber -- drugged sleep or unconsciousness brought on by drugs, alcohol, or a blow to the head will work just as well.

Sleep talking can be accompanied by Sleepwalking and Fever Dreams as well. Truth in Television as there are many people who talk in their sleep in Real Life.

Probably related to the fictional idea that dreams are generally coherent experiences that consist of the dreamer reliving past experiences, instead of surreal flashes of (seemingly) unrelated things.

Not to be confused with the half-awake babble someone makes when awakened abruptly by the phone in the dead of night. Talking in Your Sleep also is often the last thing that happens before the sleeper's own words cause them to snap awake and sit up in bed.

Not to be confused with Talking in Your Dreams, where two or more dreaming characters are communicating with one another.

See also: Dream Sequence. Compare with Non Sequitur Thud.

Examples of Talking in Your Sleep include:


Anime and Manga

  • Zero no Tsukaima human familiar has a heated dream about his "master", in the middle of the class.
  • Nori in Rozen Maiden mentions this line in her sleep:

 Jun, I can't, we're siblings!

  • Chamo in a Mahou Sensei Negima mumbles "Lady, there's no way. I can't smoke that..." Keeping in mind Chamo is an ermine.
  • Cruelly played straight in Neon Genesis Evangelion. During the ninth episode, when Asuka sleep walks (or debatably consciously walks) into Shinji's futon, Shinji leans in for a kiss, but stops when he hears Asuka mumbling "Mama" in her sleep. This would foreshadow later on when we learn that Asuka's mother killed herself.
    • In the manga adaptation of Neon Genesis Evangelion, Asuka even attempts to strangle Shinji while in a coma. Notably, that's what happens instead of a certain infamous Dude, She's Like, in a Coma incident.
  • In one of the side-stories of Pluto, a composer with writer's block sings in his sleep, the melody which is the key to his unfinished work.
  • Akane Tendo from Ranma ½ tends to talk in her sleep, saying things like:

 "Oh, P-chan! Where have you been?"

"Ranma..."

"What're you doing?! No. No, don't! I wanted that there!"

  • In episode 23 of Keroro Gunsou, Keroro sneaks into Fuyuki's room at night in order to steal the Kero Ball out of its hiding place in Fuyuki's desk drawer. He panics when he hears Fuyuki shout "Sergeant, don't do that!", but it turns out Fuyuki is just talking in his sleep. He follows it up with "The sponge cake comes first, then the telephone..." and goes back to sleep.
  • Milly Thompson of Trigun talks in her sleep. Her words become more amusing when she's asleep due to drink.
  • Van of Gun X Sword murmurs the name of his dead fiancee when fevered. It has some plot significance because this is the first that his traveling companion has heard of Elena, and it leads her to learn more about Van's backstory.
  • In a few Hayate the Combat Butler bonus strips, Izumi, Riza and Miki overhear Hinagiku talking in her sleep about 'Sgt. Doughnut' and are confused. When we see her dreams, he is a human, with a giant doughnut for a head.
  • In K-On!'s first training camp with Azusa, Ritsu abruptly sits up in her sleep and shouts, "CABBAGE!"
  • England from Axis Powers Hetalia does it in one strip, revealing that America used to wet his bed while he was a Cute Shotaro Boy.
  • When Inuyasha visits Kagome's room, he finds that she is sleeping.

 Kagome: Inuyasha...sit.

WHAM

Inuyasha: Damn you...what are you dreaming about!

  • In Saint Beast, Rey is shown to not only talk in his sleep, but be clingy and demanding about it.
  • In the first episode of Best Student Council, when Rino was knocked out, [1] [2] Pucchan tried to put some sense into Rino, who was seeing birds around her head, but the attempt fails, for Rino dizzily says, "Uh... I couldn't eat another bite." This causes Pucchan to tilt backwards, and Pucchan says, "You just got attacked! This isn't the time to be sleeping!"

Comic Books

  • Iris West Allen learned that husband Barry was The Flash because he talked in his sleep.
  • Deadpool says WEIIIRD things in his sleep sometimes. Which is not entirely different from what he says when he's awake.


Fan Fiction

  • In Kyon: Big Damn Hero, the first time Yuki teleports Kyon, Mikuru, and Kanae into her apartment Kanae sleeps through it and starts talking in her sleep.

 "Mmm, Sempai," Kanae murmured in her sleep with a quiet giggle.


Film

 "You gonna eat that? ... careful with that hammer ... sea monkeys have my money ... yes, I'm a natural blue."

 Ron:... Spiders...they want me to tapdance! I don't want to tapdance!

Harry: You tell those spiders, Ron.

 Indy: How did you know she [Elsa Schneider] was a Nazi?

Jones, Sr.: She talks in her sleep.

  • The last conversation between Malcolm and Anna Crowe in The Sixth Sense is held while Anna is fast asleep.
  • Toy Story: Woody nearly wakes up a half-asleep Sid, who mutters "I don't wanna ride the pony."
    • The gag was later repeated word-for-word in the videogame adaptation of The Warriors.
  • In So I Married an Axe Murderer, Charlie is awakened by Harriet shouting "RALPH!" in her sleep.
  • In The President's Analyst, the title character's job stress takes a turn for the worse when returning home one day, he finds the head of the No Federal Agencies Were Harmed "FBR" informs him they removed his live-in girlfriend, citing national security as he talked in his sleep. Needless to say, he's quite upset that they know that fact.
  • In The Neverending Story, Falcor tells Atreyu that he talks in his sleep.
  • In Little Nicky Nicky has fallen asleep in the parking lot and is roaring and talking gibberish in a demonic voice with a crowd gathered around him, he ends with saying "I will eat your heart!" which causes the crowd to run away.
  • Atlantis the Lost Empire: "The redhead's got a gun..."
  • In the Get Smart sequel movie Get Smart! Again!, it is revealed that Max bought the Cone of Silence after CONTROL was disbanded and installed it in his bedroom because he talks in his sleep.


Literature

  • In 1984, Winston's friend Parsons is arrested after his daughter allegedly saw him talking in his sleep: "Down with Big Brother, down with Big Brother." Later, they meet up and Parsons is proud of his daughter.
  • Twilight: Bella
  • Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency mentions that when he was in college, Dirk developed a reputation for saying interesting things in his sleep after a large meal; it's heavily implied that it was a scam he'd set up so that his roommates would buy him large meals a lot.
  • In The Shining, Jack starts talking in his sleep, as he's slowly going insane.
  • High fever + some pretty hefty meds = Lord Jaxom blabbing everything about the queen egg rescue.
  • In Diplomatic Immunity, we're told that Ekaterin doesn't just have a top secret clearance due to her part in foiling a terrorist plot; it's also due to Miles' tendency to babble about state secrets in his sleep.
  • Percy Jackson and The Olympians- The first time Percy ever sees Annabeth, she's feeding him ambrosia (which to him tastes like popcorn-flavored pudding) and muttering something. When he can talk and asks how she even knew his name and what happened to him, she just smirks and says, "You talk in your sleep"
  • In Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban, Sirius was talking in his sleep before his escape, which they use as evidence.
    • Specifically, he kept saying "He's at Hogwarts," with "he" being Wormtail.
  • Several characters do this in Lord of the Rings, including Frodo, Eowyn, Merry and Faramir.


Live Action TV

  • Common with many police officers who sleep on the job, it would seem.
  • I Love Lucy did fake it as a trick variation, with Ricky pretending to talk in his sleep.

 Ricky: Grace Foster...Grace Foster is running away...Grace Foster is running away with the milkman.

  • In a ~That '70s Show~ episode, Kelso says in his sleep "This isn't gonna work, Jackie". Jackie spends the rest of the episode getting him to fall asleep again, so she could find out what he meant.
  • Some examples from Buffy the Vampire Slayer:

 Willow: Don't warn the tadpoles! (from season 2's "What's My Line?")

Spike: I'm drownin' in footwear! (from the series finale, "Chosen")

  • Done a few times on Scrubs, such as J.D. reliving the first season's finale in his dream and Turk's Dating Game dream (which, hinted at by Carla, is a recurring one).


Music

  • The Romantics had a hit in The Eighties with the song topping the page as Trope Codifier.
  • The Cars' "Just What I Needed" mentions "I don't mind you hangin' out / and talkin' in your sleep".
  • Crystal Gayle's "You've Been Talkin' in Your Sleep," about a woman who fears her lover is having an affair. There's a remake by Martine McCutcheon.

 You've been talkin' in your sleep, sleeping in your dreams

With some sweet lover.

Holding on so tight, loving her the way

You used to love me.

 There's a ghost in my mouth

And it talks in my sleep


Newspaper Comics

  • A Peanuts comic strip has Linus doing this while dreaming about his teacher, Miss Othmar.


Oral Tradition

  • An old joke:

 Mother: Doctor, my son is talking in his sleep. Can you do something about that?

Doctor: That's not really a bad thing. You shouldn't worry about it.

Mother: Yes, but everyone in school is laughing about him!


Tabletop RPG


Theater

  • In Avenue Q, there is a whole song where Rod dreams about Nicky talking in his sleep.
  • Macbeth: Lady Macbeth's sleepwalking soliloquy.
  • Characters learn important information while another character talks in her sleep in The Yeomen of the Guard.
  • There's a rather sad version in Miss Saigon in the song "I Still Believe". As Chris sleeps, he shouts "Kim!", to the dismay of his wife Ellen, who has never learned of Chris' first love.


Video Games

  • Thief: The Dark Project and subsequent games in the series have many instances of Enemy Chatter, but also of characters muttering in their sleep, ranging from religious Hammers to guards and civilians.
  • Fable has a few, from the method to get the bordello deed to the kid in Bowerstone, sleeping and "tripping" on something, and spilling "pearls" like this:

 "Get away from me you headless monkey, I don't like your eyes!"


Web Comics


Web Original

  • Subverted in The Secret Life of Dolls; Cleo wonders if the Littlest Bella's talking in her sleep will provide important emotional information, as it originally did in Twilight, but it's just rambling. Later on she pretends to talk in her sleep to attract the Littlest Edward, and Cleo has to exasperatedly point out to him that people don't talk in their sleep in complete sentences.
  • Strong Bad for some reason has a constant tendency to say the names of different SNES games while sleeping on the couch.


Western Animation

  • The Flintstones: Wilma Flintstone had a sequence of nightmares where she'd wake up screaming for help. Fred would come running thinking she was attacked.
  • The Fairly Odd Parents: Timmy Turner wished in his sleep from the guilt of letting someone else take the blame for the abduction of Dimmsdale's mascot, Chompy the goat.
  • In the Gargoyles episode "Heritage", Elisa is rendered unconscious, yet somehow seems to know when Goliath is in trouble, even though he is miles away from her, becoming restless in her bed and calling out to him.
  • Misery in Ruby Gloom is a sleep-singer. When she's awake, her singing voice is shrill enough to break glass, but when she's asleep she has a terrific voice.
  • In one episode of South Park, Cartman rants about hippies in his sleep.
  • One episode of Kidd Video centering around dreams turning to nightmares and then manifesting to attack the heroes used this method of helpfully letting the characters know what was about to attack them when one or another of them invariably fell asleep.
  • A SpongeBob SquarePants episode has SpongeBob muttering "Trick or Treat. Thank you," in his sleep.
    • In another Squidward says "Thanks for the cookies Grandma" in his sleep.
  • Bender tends to talk about how he will kill all humans in his sleep.
  • In a Word Girl episode Dr. Two Brains dreams of various cheeses in his sleep.
  • An episode of The Powerpuff Girls showed a cop nodding off on late-night duty, muttering "Hands in the air" in his sleep.
  • Egon of The Real Ghostbusters talks in his sleep, usually about science experiments gone wrong. He has said things like "Sorry I burned down the garage, Mom." and "Don't worry, your hair will grow back."
  • Adventure Time: Jake in "Hitman" -

 Jake: No Rainicorn, don't eat him...


Real Life

  • When appearing as a guest/interviewee on Ellen DeGeneres' show, Isaiah Mustafa said that his girlfriend teases him for reciting the lines from the Old Spice ads in his sleep.
  • Some people have been known to talk in their sleep. This only happens whenever dreams ocurr outside of an REM phase (Yes that is possible), as during those phases the body is paralyzed.
    • An example of this actually appeared in the first season of the Australian Big Brother: in the middle of the night, housemate Ben said, "Where's the chicken?" When his fellow housemates responded with "Huh?" he elaborated, "The last chicken?" Upon their further confusion, he insisted, "Chicken! You know..." and started making chicken noises. That's when they realised he was sleep-talking.
  • There's a blog called Sleep Talkin' Man which is the trope as Real Life as you can get. His wife records him, and very little of what he says makes sense. But is very, very funny.
  • The recorded sleep speech of Dion McGregor, tape-recorded by his roommate and released on records and CDs.
  • In The Making of the Atomic Bomb, Richard Rhodes mentions a (real life) scientist working on the Manhattan Project who was unable to get cleared for access to more sensitive levels of the project because the scientist (who was married) talked in his sleep.

Notes

  1. Rino hit her head on the tree
  2. Rino was unconscious not for a short time, but for a long time
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