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Sleepwalking, talking, and other abnormal sleep behaviors are all categorized under a sleep condition called parasomnia.

Most, if not all, of us can name a person who sleep talks or walks—whether that’s ourselves or a friend, partner, or family member. In fact, most of us will sleep talk at least once in our lives, making it the most common abnormal sleep behavior—also called a parasomnia.

Parasomnia is a term that is used to describe any sleep disorder that causes an individual to exhibit abnormal behaviors—including sleep talking and walking.While parasomnias have historically been considered mental health disorders, modern research has revealed that parasomnias happen when our brains transition from being asleep to being awake and during sleep cycle transitions.

What are the types of parasomnias?

Parasomnias can be categorized into two specific groups, NREM-related and REM-related. Some parasomnias fall within an undefined group—we’ll call this group “Other Parasomnias.”


NREM stands for non-rapid eye movement and constitutes stages 1-4 of our sleep cycle. Each NREM cycle, during healthy sleep, lasts for approximately 90 minutes.

Most NREM-related parasomnias are considered disorders of arousal. The symptoms of disorders of arousal include: recurrent episodes of incomplete awakening, limited responsiveness, and limited awareness. Most people who experience a disorder of arousal have little to no memory of their episode.

NREM-related disorders of arousal include:


REM stands for rapid eye movement and is the fifth stage of the sleep cycle. During REM sleep, individuals will experience faster breathing in addition to their heart rate and blood pressure increasing. Dreams generally happen during the REM state of sleep.

REM-related parasomnias include:

Other Parasomnias

The above list of parasomnias are simply those that are the most common, but there are many other parasomnias that an individual can experience. Having trouble with your sleep? Partners, roommates, and family members noticing you experiencing abnormal behaviors during sleep? It may be time to reach out to a sleep specialist.

Here at Sleep Dallas is a board-certified sleep medicine specialist who specializes in treating and managing sleep disorders. Schedule your consultation today.