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In conclusion, parasomnias can disrupt a person’s sleep quality. They can also raise the chances of an accident or injury. Parasomnias are curable, and the majority of cases go away after childhood. If a person notices either they or a beloved one is experiencing parasomnia symptoms, they should seek medical help. There are many methods of parasomnia treatment.

Parasomnia Definition

A parasomnia is a sleeping condition characterised by aberrant sleeping behaviour. The behaviour can occur at any point during sleep, including during the transition from alertness to sleep and vice versa. You may move around, talk, or do weird things while sleeping if you have parasomnia. Others may believe you are awake, but you are actually sleeping. You usually have no recollection of the experience.

While parasomnias are prevalent, they can make getting a good night’s sleep challenging. As a consequence of your actions, other folk’s sleep may be disturbed. Furthermore, because you are oblivious of your surroundings, some parasomnias might be dangerous. They can have negative health consequences, such as mental stress. Parasomnias, like other sleep problems, can be treated. Continue reading to learn more about parasomnias, including their causes and kinds, as well as treatment options.

Is parasomnia considered a mental disorder?

A parasomnia is a sleeping condition characterised by aberrant sleeping behaviour. The behaviour can occur at any point during sleep, including during the transition from alertness to sleep and vice versa. You may move about, talk, or do weird things while sleeping if you have parasomnia.

what Causes Parasomnia?

  • Stress is caused by parasomnia
  • Anxiety/depression
  • PTSD
  • Use of substances
  • Some prescription drugs
  • Shift employment, for example, might cause inconsistent sleep cycles
  • Insomnia and other sleep disorders

Also, read this article: 12 Rare Sleep Disorders List

Is one gender more prone to parasomnias than the other?

Females appear to have more nightmares than males. Males are more likely to experience sexsomnia. Males over the age of 50 are more likely to suffer from REM sleep behaviour disorder. Sleep terrors, confusional arousals, and sleepwalking affect both men and women in roughly equal numbers.

Symptoms of parasomnia:

It can cause a variety of parasomnia symptoms in addition to unusual sleep behaviour. You could try:

  • You’ll be confused or disoriented when you wake up
  • You wake up and have no idea where you are
  • Forget about certain activities
  • They discover new cuts on their bodies
  • I have a hard time sleeping through the night
  • If you’re tired or sleepy during the day

Types of Parasomnia:

Parasomnia comes in a variety of forms. While each parasomnia has its own set of symptoms as diagnostic criteria, they can be divided into three categories: NREM-related, REM-related, and “other.”

Parasomnias Caused by NREM

Eye movement that isn’t lightning fast The first part of one’s sleep cycle referred to as “shallow” sleep, is followed by the second, third, nor fourth stages, wherein the sleep grows increasingly deeper. These stages normally run for about 90 minutes in total.

Disorders of arousal are the most frequent NREM-related parasomnias. These parasomnias are characterised by recurrent episodes of partial awakening, limited response to other people attempting to help or redirect the sleeper, and poor cognition throughout the experience. The majority of people who suffer from arousal disorders have little to no recollection of their bouts. These illnesses include:


Bad dreams are vivid and unpleasant nightmares that might make you feel anxious, fearful, or terrified. A nightmare condition affects people who suffer frequent dreams or nightmares that interfere with their sleep.

Confusional arousals

In bed, the sleeper demonstrates mental or behavioural confusion. Most people who have confusional arousals have very minimal autonomic arousal, such as muscle twitching (dilated pupils), tachycardia (rapid heartbeat), tachypnea (rapid breathing), or sweating. Elpenor syndrome is another name for confusional arousals.


Sleepwalking, also known as sleep paralysis, is when a person gets out of bed even while asleep but shows little awareness of or reactivity to their environment. Other complicated activities, such as sorting clothes, may be displayed. If the person loses his balance or comes into contact with other objects while sleepwalking, they may sustain injury.

Sleep terrors

Sleep terrors, also known as night terrors, occur when a person feels tremendous panic or fear throughout the first part of the night. Children aged 3–7 years old are the most likely to experience night terrors.

Symptoms of night terrors include:

  • wailing, or thrashing about.
  • A fast heartbeat
  • Unusually rapid breathing
  • Pupils with dilated pupils
  • Perspiring

The episodes are 10–20 minutes long. The majority of youngsters go asleep afterwards and have no recollection of having a sleeping terror.

Sleep-related sexual aberrant activities:

Also known as “sexsomnia,” this parasomnia subtype is characterised by atypical sexual behaviours such as forceful masturbation, sexual intercourse initiation, and sexual noises while sleeping.


Sleep-related aberrant sexual habits are referred to as sexsomnia. In ICSD-3, it’s defined as a type of NREM parasomnia arousal disorder, with aberrant sexual activities arising from partial awakenings during slow-wave sleep. Young males are more prone to it. Sexual contact, attempted intercourse, masturbating, assaultive sexual conduct, sexual vocalisations, and other activities have been described.

Other causes of sleep fragmentation, like other parasomnias, should be addressed before starting medication. Seizures at night, as well as drugs such as SSRIs and pramipexole, have all been linked to sexsomnia. Although treatment data is sparse, Clonazepam may be useful in a variety of situations. 14.

Pavor Nocturnus/Sleep Terrors/Night Terrors

Sleep terrors (ST), also called night terrors or pavor nocturnus, are a type of arousal marked by an abrupt scream with behavioural indications of acute anxiety that begin in stage N3. They frequently appear out of nowhere, and the person exhibits intense distress, muddled verbalizations, arousal, and higher body movements, which can include sleepwalking.

The infant can not be comforted or awakened, and the following day, he or she has partial or full amnesia of the events. ST prevalence varies by age, ranging from 1% in the elderly to 6.5 per cent in youngsters.

Repeated Isolated Sleep Paralysis

Repeated isolated sleep paralysis is characterised as the retention of REM sleep into awake in terms of muscular atonia. This condition is defined by the inability to talk and move body limbs and the trunk at the onset of sleep or upon emerging from sleep, although the individual is awake and recalls the incident correctly.

The episode’s length might range from seconds to several minutes . This disease can have serious effects, such as insomnia and anxiety before bedtime. Nearly 7.6% of the general population has at least one psychiatric disorder in their lives.

REM Sleep Behavior

RBD is a parasomnia defined by the lack of sleep weakness or paralysis during REM sleep or acting out of dreams, resulting in injurious or possibly hazardous behaviour toward the patient or bedmate [64]. The general population is expected to have a prevalence of 0.38 per cent, with the elderly having a prevalence of 0.5 per cent.

RBD can manifest itself in both chronic and acute forms. Acute versions are primarily linked to sedative-hypnotic and alcohol withdrawal states. Some serotonergic antidepressants have been shown to promote RBD by increasing tonic submental electromyography activity during REM sleep [66]. RBD can be idiopathic or related to neurological illnesses, particularly synucleinopathies like Parkinson’s disease, muscular dystrophies, or dementia associated with Lewy body disease.


In children over the age of 5, sleep enuresis is defined as involuntary nullification during sleep in the absence of a physical ailment. Episodes can happen during either REM and NREM sleep. At least one incident every week for at least 3 months is required for the diagnosis.

Children with developmental delays, physical or intellectual challenges and psychiatric or behavioural difficulties are more likely to acquire this illness. It’s highly frequent in infancy, with a prevalence of almost 10%–16% at age 5, and it’s probably more common in adolescent years than most people realise.

Sleep disruption

Hallucinatory experiences, particularly visual events, that occur at the onset of sleep (hypnagogic) or upon awakening (hypnopompic) are known as sleep-related hallucinations. It’s been proposed that they’re triggered by a sleep phase incursion into awareness, and it’s hard to tell the difference between them and dreams that occur immediately before waking.

Prolonged, protracted, vivid visual hallucinations after waking in the night are a less common version of this kind. They might happen on their own or as part of the narcolepsy symptomatic picture. Hypnagogic hallucinations can affect up to 25% of the population, making them more common than hypnopompic hallucinations, which affect only 7% of the population.


Involuntary urine during sleep is known as bedwetting (nocturnal enuresis). It occurs more frequently in children (usually younger than 6 years old). When the bladder contains more pee than it can hold, bedwetting happens. Some occurrences of bedwetting have no underlying reason, while others are caused by illnesses like urinary tract infections.

Grinding of the teeth

Teeth grinding (sleep bruxism) is a condition in which a person clenches or grinds his or her teeth while sleeping. Soreness inside the jaw, cheek, or neck, tooth discomfort or sensitivity, and earache-like aches are all symptoms of this illness.

Talking in Your Sleep (Somniloquy)

Somniloquy, or talking in sleep, is a hypnagogic hallucination that can range from small mumbles to loud, repeating outbursts throughout sleep. Sleep talking is a common occurrence that occurs several times during the night.

Why not sleep with the red lights on?

According to research, it’s because particular wavelengths of light in the evening reduce the synthesis of melanin, a hormone that helps sleep/wake cycles. According to studies, even low light can disrupt circadian rhythm and hormone secretion.

Eating Disorders Caused by Sleep

Obesity and a slew of other health issues can result from sleep-related eating. This sleep condition is linked to other sleep problems like sleepwalking, or it could be caused by persistent pain that prevents you from sleeping and forces you to eat instead.

Nocturnal leg cramps

Nocturnal leg cramps are involuntary spasms of the calf or foot muscles that occur while sleeping. The tight muscle can generally be alleviated by stretching it. Dehydration, extended sitting, or overexertion of a muscle can cause nocturnal leg cramps.

Exploding head syndrome

The exploding head syndrome occurs when a person hears a loud noise within their head, such as an explosion when falling asleep and waking up. Often, the person believes they are experiencing a stroke. An exploding head condition is relatively innocuous, aside from disrupting a person’s sleep.


Bedwetting, also known as sleep enuresis, occurs when the person urinates while sleeping. This is normal in young children, and it usually gets better as they become older. If it doesn’t, it could be a sign of a bedwetting disorder or a sign of some underlying medical condition like diabetes or a urinary tract infection.

If you have this type of parasomnia, you may kick, talk, or flail in response to your dreams. If a member of your family is suffering from parasomnia, gently nudge them back to bed. It is not recommended that parasomniacs be awakened, as this might induce anxiety or violence.

Also read this article: What is dyssomnia sleep disorder? 

Children’s Insomnia

  • In the majority of cases, sleep paralysis starts in childhood or adolescence. During the transition phase between sleep and awake, you are unable to speak or move your body. It could last anywhere between a few seconds and several minutes.
  • Children here, between the ages of 3 and 6, have a lot of nightmares. Children are awoken from their sleep by vivid dreams with great feelings of panic or dread.
  • Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behaviour disorder in children is uncommon, although it can happen. During REM sleep, it entails playing on dramatic and/or violent nightmares. During these situations, hitting, grasping, or kicking while dreaming can result in injury.

Diagnosing and Treating Parasomnias

Your primary care physician may help make the initial diagnosis of parasomnia, but you’ll probably be referred to a sleep expert to have your sleep behaviour examined further. A study of your health information, sleep history, or a sleeping study is commonly used to make a diagnosis. Parasomnia treatment is determined by the nature and severity of the condition. Your doctor may advise you to do the following:

Sleep education

The occurrence of parasomnias can be reduced by following the norms of good sleep hygiene. To reduce the risks connected with parasomnias, you should sleep in a secure atmosphere. Parasomnia is less likely to occur if you have good sleep habits and practises for restorative sleep.

Study of Overnight Sleep

To be sure your parasomnia isn’t caused by another sleep problem, IU Healthcare Sleep Center doctors may ask you to participate in an overnight sleep study.

Small metal discs named electrodes are connected to the skin surrounding your head during a sleep study. An electroencephalogram receives data from the electrodes concerning your brain activity (EEG). EEGs analyse your sleep schedule and indicate any anomalies or interruptions that are causing your parasomnias.

If your parasomnias include other motions or talking, you may be videotaped while sleeping. The majority of patients have their sleep studies done at sleep clinics, but some patients may have their sleep studies done at home.


Medication can help in parasomnia treatment if it is frequent or recurring. The best option is determined by your symptoms.

The following are some examples of drugs used to treat parasomnias:

  • The drug topiramate
  • Antidepressants
  • Agonists for dopamine
  • Melatonin
  • Levodopa
  • Clonazepam and other benzodiazepines

If on either hand, your symptoms are caused by a certain medicine, your doctor may prescribe a different medication or a different dose. Do not discontinue taking a drug without first consulting your doctor.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) is a method of treatment. A frequent parasomnia treatment is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This is due to the fact that parasomnia is frequently linked to mental health issues such as stress and anxiety.

The following strategies could be used in conjunction using CBT:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Restorative therapy
  • Hypnosis

At-home Parasomnia Treatments

Some therapies can be carried out in the comfort of your own home. Your doctor might suggest that you do the following:

  • Awakenings on a set schedule. Scheduled awakenings occur when you wake your child up 15 minutes before they wake up naturally. It may aid in the reduction of repetitive behaviours. It’s frequently prescribed to treat falling asleep and night terrors.
  • Sleeping surroundings that are safer. You may need to sleep or remove unsafe things from your home if you fall asleep or have RBD. You can also sleep with more cushioning by locking windows and doors, putting the mattress, and locking the windows and doors.

Frequently Ask Questions

What causes parasomnia in the first place?

Because parasomnias frequently run in families, there may be a hereditary component. Some hypnagogic hallucinations, including some cases with REM sleep behaviour disorder, may be caused by brain problems. Other sleep problems, such as sleep apnea and certain drugs, can also cause parasomnias.

What are some parasomnia examples?

Disruptive sleep disorders are known as parasomnias. Even if your bedmate thinks you’re awake, abnormal movements, words, emotions, and activities occur while you’re asleep. Sleep terrors, sleepwalking, dream disorders, sleep-related eating problems, and sleep paralysis are just a few examples.

Why is it a terrible idea to sleep in socks?

They can burn the skin as well as cause a fire hazard if they get too hot. Despite popular belief, wearing socks in bed is not unsanitary. It’s vital, though, to wear socks that aren’t too tight, as it can restrict circulation.

Is it safe to sleep all night with LED lights on?

LEDs, fluorescent lamps, and incandescent bulbs are all capable of disrupting regular sleep cycles. The biological clock of the body is governed by the amount of light and darkness it is exposed to. The circadian rhythm is the name given to this phenomenon.


If you think you might have parasomnia, you should contact a doctor who specialises in sleep medicine to get a proper diagnosis and treatment. Dr Malhotra is a well-known sleep specialist in Connecticut who specialises in identifying and treating a wide range of sleep problems. Call (203) 653-3519 or use this form to make an appointment.

This post is written by health specialist aneeza in medshelper.com