What Is Parasomnia?

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Posted on Monday, October 26th, 2020 at 3:25 pm    

Parasomnia describes any unusual activity that happens right before you sleep, during sleep, and in the moments between sleep and wakefulness. According to the Sleep Foundation, parasomnia often affects children more than adults, though it can affect people of all ages. Parasomnias can describe a number of unusual sleep anomalies, including sleepwalking, night terrors, sleep paralysis, hallucinations, and bedwetting, just to name a few.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recognizes three distinct groups of parasomnia: NREM-related, REM-related, and “other.” REM stands for rapid eye movement.

The first group is non-rapid eye movement-related. Non-rapid eye movement sleep constitutes the first 90 or so minutes after you fall asleep. Sleep specialists call this “shallow” sleep. People who experience parasomnias in this stage of sleep will have difficulty remembering the events of their episodes. According to the Sleep Foundation, NREM-related parasomnias include:

  • Confusional arousals
  • Sleepwalking
  • Night or sleep terrors
  • Sexual abnormal behaviors
  • Sleep-related disordered eating habits

The second group is rapid eye movement sleep-related. This REM stage of sleep occurs immediately after the NREM stages of sleep. REM sleep will last about 90 minutes, then your sleep will rotate back to NREM, then REM, and so on. During REM, your eyes move rapidly while closed, breathing accelerates, and heart rate and blood pressure will increase. Parasomnias of REM sleep include:

  • Recurring sleep paralysis
  • REM sleep behavior disorder (RSBD)
  • Nightmare disorder

The final group is simply called “other,” as it describes parasomnias that happen between sleeping and wakefulness. They might include:

  • Bedwetting
  • Hallucinations that persist for several minutes after the person awakes
  • “Exploding head syndrome,” when a person hears a loud noise like an explosion in their head and may see a bright light upon waking, though it is imagined

If you are experiencing any of the events listed above, it is important that you make an appointment with your doctor or a sleep specialist. Parasomnias could be signs of an underlying health issue, such as anxiety, PTSD, or a complication with prescribed medicine.

Get a Better Night’s Sleep With Silent Night Therapy

Parasomnias could be a sign of a more serious sleep problem, such as sleep apnea or insomnia. If you’re having trouble getting restful sleep and are waking up exhausted, then you might have a sleep disorder. The sleep specialists at Silent Night Therapy can diagnose your problems and find reliable solutions. Call us today at (631) 983-2463 or schedule a free consultation online.