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Do deaf people do sign language in their sleep? © Getty Images

Do deaf people do sign language in their sleep?

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Asked by: Heidi Nelson, London

Anecdotally, some people who’ve learned sign language do occasionally use it in their sleep. There’s not a lot of scientific data, but one 2017 case study describes a 71-year-old man with a severe hearing impairment, who also had ‘rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behaviour disorder’. This involves a loss of paralysis during REM sleep, and the man was observed signing fluently. The researchers could even get an idea of what he was dreaming about by decoding his signs.

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Authors

Alice is a Professor of Psychology at Goldsmiths. She has contributed to several diverse research areas, including the longitudinal associations between sleep and psychopathology, behavioural genetics, sleep paralysis and exploding head syndrome. In addition to her scientific contributions she also excels in the public engagement of science. She has published two popular science book (Nodding Off, Bloomsbury, 2018 and Sleepy Pebble, Nobrow, 2019). She regularly contributes articles to the media and has had her work published in outlets including the Guardian, GQ UK, Sud Ouest, Slate Fr, Independent.

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