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寝言に返事をしてはいけない理由

会話カップル

寝言を言う人に返事をしてはいけませんよ。

そんな風に言われたことありませんか?

寝言を言っている人に返事をすると、その寝ている人が死ぬ、という民間伝承があるんです。さすがに寝言を言う人に話しかけた程度で人が死んだりはしませんが、睡眠科学の観点からも、実は寝言に返事を返すことはあまりよいことではないとされているのです。

この記事では、寝言をいう人に返事をすることの是非について説明いたします。

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寝言が発せられる原因と返事を返すことの悪さ

眠る男

人間は睡眠中に疲労をとります。それは筋肉疲労や血流などだけではなく、脳の疲労も睡眠中にとっているのですね。

また、睡眠中に行われることとして、起きている時に記憶した様々なことを整理するということがあげられます。その整理の仕方が睡眠が浅い時に「夢」となって現れるのですね。

人間の睡眠には大きく2パターンのものがあります。

「レム睡眠」と「ノンレム睡眠」がそれです。ノンレム睡眠は深い眠りに落ちている時で、ちょっとやそっとでは起きません。人が目覚めやすいのは、浅い眠りであるレム睡眠の状態の時です。

レム睡眠時、人は寝ているようですが、まぶたの下で激しく眼球が動き、起きている時と同様様々なものを見ているかのような反応がかえってきます。これは「夢」のなかの世界を探索しているのだと言われています。「夢」は起きている時に記憶している物だけではなく、寝ている時にみていても、起きた時には忘れてしまっていることもけっこうあるようです。

寝言もまた、この夢の世界での反応を現実の世界で行なっている反応の一つと見られています。子供には「夜驚症」といって夜に叫びだしたりすることがあるのですが、これは思春期にはなおります。

寝言の程度

寝言の程度は人それぞれで大きく違います。ほとんど起きている時と同じぐらい大声で寝言をいう人もいますし、ほとんど聞こえないような小さな声で寝言を話す人もいます。

また、中高年や初老期の方の中には「レム睡眠行動障害」とよばれる夢のなかの行動を現実でもおこなってしまう病気のかたもいます。その時の寝言は大きく、極めて鮮明に聞こえるそうです。

寝言程度ならよいのですが、叫んで起きてしまったり、寝言の内容がひどかったり擦る場合には専門医の治療を受ける必要があるかもしれません。

寝言への返事はなぜ悪い?

 そのような寝言ですが、なぜ寝言に返事するのはよくないのでしょうか。

寝言に対する返事をしてはならないことは、日本各地で古くから言われていたことのようです。寝言に返事をすると魂があの世に行ってしまうとか、気が狂ってしまうとか、あるいは死んでしまうなどとも言われています。

先程も書きましたように、「寝言は、浅い眠りの時に言うもの」なのです。
 夢を見ている時は夢からさめやすい状況の時なのです。みなさんも、夢の途中で目が覚めた、という経験をされたことがあるでしょう。実はレム睡眠時は周囲の環境に大きな影響をうけるのです。重たいものが乗っかる夢をみたら実際に猫が乗っていたとか、爆発擦る夢をみたら子供がわーっと乗っかってきたなどのように夢の内容は外界の環境の影響を受けているのです。

 寝言に対する返事も、実は寝ているときなので気にされないように考えられがちですが、実は寝ている人はその返事を聞いているのです。脳は会話をするとき激しく活動しますが、レム睡眠時に脳の活動が活発になると、その分疲労の回復が妨げられてしまうのです。

睡眠時に聞いたことを覚えている

 睡眠中の人は寝ている時のことを覚えてはいませんよね。もちろん寝言に返事をしてもその返事の内容を覚えているわけではありません。会話をした、という記憶がぼんやりと夢の中で再現されることはあります。
 人の脳は会話によって盛んに活動しますが、これは実は睡眠時にも同様の働きをすると言われています。
 

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まとめ:寝言の返事は脳に負担。静かに寝させてあげましょう

寝言の返事は脳に負担をかけてしまいます。その負担の程度も睡眠状況によって様々なのですが、負担は少ない方がよいですね。

中途睡眠を覚醒させられるのはとても大きなストレスになります。
寝ている人は静かに寝させてあげるのが一番ですよね。

また、寝言への返事で起きてしまう、ということもあります。寝言をいっている時は比較的浅い眠りの段階ですからそれも仕方なのないことです。さすがに昔から言われているような「寝言に返事をすると人が死ぬ」といったことはないと思いますが、どうぞ無理をさせないであげてください。

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