Sleep Talking: Are You a Chatty Cathy at Night?


  • Sleep talking affects up to 66% of people
  • It can make you a difficult partner to sleep with
  • There are strategies to reduce nightly episodes

Just like its name suggests, this parasomnia describes talking during sleep without awareness and can range from complete gibberish to full monologues of complicated speech. Sleep talkers often have no idea they do it until a housemate brings it to their attention.

What does sleep talking look like?

The most common symptoms are:

  • Mumbling

  • Utterances

  • Calling out or yelling

  • Speaking in sentences

  • Whispering

  • Moaning

How it looks (well, technically how it sounds) is dependent on what stage of sleep you’re in. Since it’s a non-REM-related parasomnia, it occurs during any of the first three stages of your sleep cycle.

Stages 1 or 2: Because you’re in a lighter stage of sleep, you’re more likely to be understood while you’re chatting away. The language during these stages is more likely to make sense and be easy to understand.

Sleep stage 3: The chattiness that occurs during this slow-wave deep sleep is more likely to be difficult to understand. It will probably sound like gibberish, moaning, and mumbling.

Mild vs moderate vs severe

Episodes can be broken down into three categories depending on the frequency you experience them:

  • Mild: occurs only once or twice a month

  • Moderate: occurs once or twice a week

  • Severe: occurs nightly

Acute vs subacute vs chronic

Episodes can also be broken down into three categories depending on the overall duration:

  • Acute: occurs for 1 month or less

  • Subacute: occurs for more than 1 month, but less than 1 year

  • Chronic: occurs for at least 1 year (or longer)

How common is sleep talking?

It’s incredibly likely for everyone to experience at least one sleep talking episode in their lifetime, but up to 66% of people report having recurrent episodes of sleep talking.

Can it impact my health?

Sleep talking is very unlikely to have a negative impact on your health.

What causes me to become a Chatty Cathy in my sleep?

Some episodes can be attributed to genetics, and in some cases psychopathology. Research has found that 37% of adult sleep talkers report a family history of sleep talking.

Can it be treated?

Focusing on having a great bedtime routine and sleep environment is the best way to reduce your chances of becoming a Chatty Cathy in your sleep.

Bottom Line: Sleep talking effects up to 66% of people. Although there are not any known health detriments associated with this parasomnia, it can make you a difficult partner to sleep with. Improving your bedtime routine and amping up your sleep environment are the best ways to prevent nightly episodes.


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