Rhythmic Masticatory Muscle Activity (RMMA) is frequently observed during sleep in normal subjects and sleep bruxers. We hypothesized that some normal subjects exhibit RMMA at a lower frequency than sleep bruxers. Polysomnographic data from 82 normal subjects were compared with data from 33 sleep bruxers. RMMA episodes were defined as three or more consecutive bursts of masseter EMG activity, with or without tooth-grinding. Such episodes were observed in nearly 60% of normal subjects. A lower frequency of episodes was noted in normal subjects than in bruxers. Sleep organization was similar between groups. Bruxers had twice as many masseter muscle bursts per episode and episodes of higher amplitude compared with controls with RMMA. The high prevalence of RMMA observed in normal subjects suggests that this activity is related to certain sleep-related physiological functions, including autonomic activation.