Is Sleep Talking Harmful? Debunking Myths and Misconceptions

Learn about the common misconceptions regarding sleep talking and discover why it is not as harmful as many believe!


Do you talk in your sleep, or have you ever talked in your sleep? Contrary to what many people believe, sleep talking is actually one of the most popular nocturnal behaviors globally. Many people think that sleep talking is harmful, or they believe in other common misconceptions, including that sleep talking should be stopped and that it’s rare. Fortunately, many of these myths are simply false assumptions.

In this article, we will explore the five most common myths surrounding sleep talking to set the record straight. Despite what people might imagine, sleep talking isn't so bad, nor does it indicate anything serious. It might just be something that all of us—at one point in our lives—have done or will do while we rest at night.

Myth #1: Sleep Talking is a Sign of Serious Psychological Issues

Despite what some have asserted, sleep talking is not always a sign of serious psychological issues. According to a study conducted in Taiwan from 2011 to 2017, sleep talking can be a symptom of epilepsy, but it is not a sure sign that someone who sleep talks has epilepsy. The associations people commonly make between sleep talking and psychological issues are often more exaggerated than reality.

Just like with epilepsy, psychological disorders have a long list of symptoms, many of them requiring multiple to be met to even reach a diagnosis. Therefore, if many people sleep talk, and it’s the most common behavior at night while sleeping, then it truly is a myth that sleep talking means something is psychologically wrong. In fact, the same study showed that sleep talking implies that your brain may be operating at a higher level (Source: ScienceDirect)!

Myth #2: Sleep Talking is a Sign of a Sleep Disorder

Another common misconception regarding sleep talking is that its prevalence indicates that someone has a sleep disorder. While sleep talking can be associated with sleep disorders, it is not a sure sign that someone has a sleep disorder. Parasomnia, defined as symptoms relating to sleepwalking, sleep terrors, and sleep talking, is common in childhood. However, sleep talking itself is not a noted symptom of many of the most common sleep disorders.

Researchers have stated that symptoms like sleep talking, sleepwalking, and even night terrors are so prevalent that they require a detailed clinical diagnosis to see if they can be associated with any sleep disorders. The most scholars have been able to confirm, according to an article in the Journal of Fluency Disorders, is that sleep talking might be suggestive of other sleep disorders.

So, if you suffer from sleep-talking episodes, don’t worry—it’s likely not serious and connected to sleep disorders unless you have other common symptoms associated with issues like insomnia and more.

Myth #3: Sleep Talkers Remember What They Say

Have you ever woken up after a night's rest to have someone ask you what you said in your sleep, only for you not to remember? Well, you're not alone. Despite what many assume, sleep talkers do not always remember what they say or even the subject matter of their sleep talking. Sleep talking is actually characterized as “unaware verbal vocal activations”, so clearly, it isn't something people remember.

Sleep talking is not efficiently coded to memory because it happens when we are sleeping. It can happen during our REM or non-REM cycles, often as a means of trying to consolidate our memory and work through our emotions and thoughts. While we might not remember what we say when we sleep talk, it has been shown that sleep talking during REM sleep is more understandable with clear messages and sentences (Source: ScienceDirect). Next time you catch yourself sleep-talking, don’t feel bad if you don’t remember—you’re not supposed to!

Myth #4: Sleep Talking Should be Stopped

While sleep talking can be annoying and may disrupt your sleep, no evidence says it should be stopped. Remember what we said about how important it is to code important memories and process emotions? If you stop sleeping and are woken up, there's no benefit at all to you. In fact, there are no studies to date that prove that there’s any benefit to stopping sleep talk while sleeping. It just happens!

However, despite the truth of this common assumption, there are steps that you can take today to ensure that your sleep-talking doesn’t hinder your sleep or your degree of rest. You can focus on improving your sleep hygiene, practice a routine before bed to help you relax, and more. All of this will improve your quality of rest, even if it does not eliminate your sleep talking.

Myth #5: Sleep Talking is Harmful to People’s Health

Last but certainly not least, the most common myth people believe about sleep talking is that it is harmful to your health. As we have explored, it is definitely not harmful to your health. Coupled with issues like insomnia or night terrors, you may find yourself struggling with sleep challenges. However, on its own, there’s no reason to worry about sleep talking as it does not pose a threat to your health in any way.

There have been studies that show that sleep talking—when associated with other common sleep disorders—poses a threat to long-term health in children. One study conducted in Hong Kong on over 6,000 children showed that sleep bruxism is connected to medical conditions, but sleep talking was not individually associated with anything harmful to the participants’ health (Source: PubMed). This should calm your worries, especially if you or someone you know sleep talks!


Written by

Marie Soukup

Marie Soukup is a seasoned copywriter, editor, and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach with a certificate from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN). With years of experience working with brands across diverse industries, Marie is passionate about holistic health and crafting compelling content.

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