The sound of laughter can bring a smile to anyone. It’s how we communicate with each other when we’re feeling on top of the world. But every giggle has its place, and sometimes when we laugh in certain situations, it can be deeply revealing.
Laughing in your sleep is an incredibly common occurrence for many people. And although always seen as such a positive thing, when it happens during your sleep – some people begin to worry.
What does unexplained laughter mean? Why is it happening only when you’re asleep? And is it a symptom of a much bigger problem?
Today, we’ll try to put your mind at ease. We will go through the core symbolism of what it means to laugh when asleep and explore the different interpretations you can apply to your everyday life.
The science behind laughing in your sleep
Laughing in your sleep is known as hypnogely, and often is considered a harmless phenomenon. Scientists and doctors believe you may have experienced something humorous or strange during rapid eye movement sleep, known as REM sleep.
During REM, our brain activity spikes and processes memories, situations, and emotions in vivid images. We will often laugh more in the latter stages of sleep and can easily wake up during it.
In rare cases, sleep laughter is connected to some neurological disorders, including gelastic seizures, Parkinson’s disease, cataplexy, sleep deprivation, stroke, and parasomnia.
7 meanings behind laughing in your sleep
1. You’re feeling content and joyful
Firstly, let’s take the act of laughter at face value. It is often a triggered response to something funny, happy, and positive. Your engaging in this behavior often suggests you’re in a good place in life, and in the majority of cases where someone laughs when asleep, it’s a potent symbol of their contentment.
When we laugh, we trigger several beneficial events in our bodies. We take in oxygen-rich air, we stimulate our lungs, muscles, and central nervous system, and our brain releases good-mood endorphins into our system.
Next, consider how vulnerable you are when asleep. Your body reacting so positively suggests you feel in a good place right now. There’s no threat or danger nearby – your home is a place of safety where you can relax and enjoy yourself.
2. You see the good in people
We often say that a smile and a laugh are contagious. We are naturally drawn to people who are happy in their life and who are fun to be around.
If you laugh in your sleep, this can symbolize that you’re an optimistic person who sees the good in people and always stays on the positive side of life.
You may be seen as a comical person, a class clown, or someone who always has a witty punchline to deliver. But people also come to you for positive reassurance, comfort, and support. You’re a pillar in your family and community, and people are grateful for your life-giving energy.
But don’t overdo it. You carry on this behavior in your sleep suggests that you may need to “rest” from this persona at some stage. Be careful that people don’t drain too much from you and that all you can ever be is the life and soul of the party. It’s OK to be quiet sometimes.
3. You’re a child at heart – or want to be!
If you’re laughing while asleep, this symbolizes you are tuned into your inner child. You see the positives in life, and even when sleeping, remain in an upbeat and optimistic mood.
It can also symbolize that you’re a dreamer. Like a child, you have big plans and fantasies about what your life will be like. If you’re an older person, these plans might be about your family, children, and grandchildren.
Another interpretation could be that you want to return to your childhood. When we are younger, life often feels simpler. We’ve been taken care of by others. We have endless time for fun and friendship before work takes fold.
Perhaps you must think of ways to inject fun into your everyday life. Your dreams could be trying to inspire you to be happier than you really are.
4. If you sleepwalk when laughing – you’re in turmoil
Sleepwalking is still a largely misunderstood sleep disorder. It happens during NREM sleep (non-rapid eye movement) and is thought to be a genuine behavioral response to stress and anxiety in our waking lives.
Although asleep, you are triggered into movement without your consent. It’s as if your body is taking action against your subconscious mind. Perhaps this symbolizes that you feel torn in two right now; is there a decision you have to make that’s annoying you?
You could also have a restless mind over work or love and are physically trying to walk away from your problems. But if you’re laughing, doesn’t that mean everything will be OK? Not quite.
Although we often think of laughter as happiness, it can sometimes be a reaction to fear, uneasiness, and something unfunny. Our gut reaction to laugh can be the last chance to calm ourselves during difficult times. It would be best if you heeded these sleep terrors with caution and alleviated stress in your waking life.
5. You’re maybe not taking things as seriously as you should
Depending on the dreams you are experiencing, the response of laughter to serious or disturbing nightmares can symbolize you aren’t taking your life or yourself too seriously right now.
This can have two outcomes. A positive mental attitude can help us muster the strength to overcome any of life’s obstacles. And laughter can help reassure you that you will get through troubling times.
But laughter can only do so much; if it’s your only crutch to rely on, you are simply putting your head in the sand over something. Often when we feel this way, laughter is followed by intermitted grunting – symbolizing the anxiety you’re feeling and the lengths you’re going to to try and put a brave face on things.
You can try to overcome whatever night terror is bothering you by addressing your problems directly. But laughing at something serious can play down its effect on you and certainly won’t help you reach a solution.
6. You want more positivity in your life from friends and family
As we know, we laugh for many reasons. But on a spiritual level, it takes on even more significant meaning when we’re asleep.
Laughter can be a call-out to nearby people. Like a “battle cry,” you’re alerting people nearby that you’re fun, friendly, and open to a relationship. By laughing in your sleep, you are trying to communicate your needs in a very direct and audible way.
Perhaps while you dream, your laughter is a physical response to your life needs right now – you want to be happier. If you’re sleeping next to a partner, it could be an invitation to their subconscious mind. If you or both of you wake from the sound, it’s a literal “wake up” call to be nicer to one another.
Similarly, we may also laugh to hear ourselves. Maybe you haven’t laughed in a while. Life might be tough. You long to be happy again. Our dream world allows us to channel these desires, and by “hearing” yourself laugh, you try to manifest it more in your waking life.
7. Your physical state is under threat
As dreams are often a direct message from our subconscious, we must also entertain the idea that any form of sleep disruption is a warning to our general health. Sleep is essential but often an overlooked time of your day. It is when we are supposed to rest, recover and regain our strength for the following day.
And yet, our busy lives deny us precious hours of sleep. No wonder many people are beginning to develop neurological conditions like narcolepsy, insomnia, sleep paralysis, hallucinations, or alcohol dependency.
Although sleep laughter is a positive for a majority of the cases, do seek a diagnosis if the laughter is starting to worry you. It could be a symptom of neurological disorders – and medication may be vital to your recovery.
As we know, laughing during sleep is a common phenomenon that many of us are unaware we do most nights. The sense of mirth we get in the dream world causes a physical reaction, where we are put at ease and feel good.
The benefits of laughter during sleep are huge – our brain, lungs, and muscles are all supported and nurtured as our body recovers from the day’s events. Our sense of humor is so strong that it travels through our subconscious minds.
That said, in the minority of cases, sleep laughter has the potential to develop into something else. If it impedes your sleep quality, consider the frequency of the laughter, and notify your doctor. After a, your physical and mental health is no laughing matter!