Parasomnias: Types, Causes & Symptoms


What is parasomnia?

Parasomnias is a sleep disorder characterized by abnormal sleeping behavior. The behavior can occur at any point during sleep, including during the transition from waking to sleep and vice versa.

You may move around, talk, or do unusual things while sleeping if you have parasomnia. Others may believe you are awake, but you are sleeping. You usually have no recollection of the occurrence.

While parasomnias are widespread, they can make getting a good night’s sleep challenging. Other people’s sleep may be disturbed as a result of your actions.

Furthermore, because you are unaware of your surroundings, some parasomnias might be harmful. They can also have negative health consequences, such as psychological stress.

Parasomnias, like other sleep disorders, can be treated. Continue reading to discover more about parasomnias, including their causes and forms, as well as treatment options.

Read: Dyssomnia

Types of parasomnia

Some parasomnias occur during non-rapid eye movement sleep in the early half of the night. Others occur later throughout the night, while you’re sleeping in REM.


Sleepwalking, also known as somnambulism, is when you wake up and wander about. It’s a frequent symptom of parasomnia. It might also include sleeping, chatting or conducting typical household activities.

Sleepwalking is most common in the early hours of the night. It can even happen when you’re taking a nap throughout the day.

Sleep talking

Sleep talking, also known as somniloquy, is another common parasomnia. When you talk while sleeping, this happens.

Sleep talking may take several forms, ranging from muttering to full-fledged dialogues.

Sleep talking, unlike sleepwalking, can occur at any time during the night. In the early phases of sleep, it’s typically simpler to grasp what’s being spoken.

While sleeping, catathrenia is groaning loudly. When you exhale slowly and deeply, it usually happens. Groaning can involve a variety of noises, including:

  • Roaring
  • Loud humming
  • Cracking noises with a high tone

Snoring is sometimes confused for sleep-related groaning. Unlike snoring, however, groaning is unrelated to respiratory problems.

Read: Chronic Insomnia Disorder


Nightmares are disturbing, vivid nightmares that make you angry, anxious or afraid. The term “nightmare disorder” refers to a condition in which nightmares recur often.

It might be tough to fall asleep again if you have parasomnia. Multiple nightmares may occur in a single night in some cases.

Nightmares usually happen during REM sleep, when you’re more likely to dream.

Night terrors

A night terror, also known as a sleep terror, occurs when you wake up scared. The terrifying experience might last anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes.

Night terrors have also been linked to:

  • Crying
  • Screaming
  • Fast heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Skin flushing

Night terrors, unlike nightmares, generally include little to no dream activity. Night terrors are more common in non-REM sleep.


Bedwetting, also known as nocturnal enuresis, is the involuntary urination that occurs while sleeping. It is particularly frequent in youngsters, especially those under the age of six.

Bedwetting usually happens when the bladder is unable to contain enough pee. Some instances have no known origin, while others are caused by illnesses such as urinary tract infections.

Read: Periodic Limb Movement Disorder

Confusional arousal

When you wake up in a condition of confusion, this is known as confusional arousal. You could be unsure of what you’re doing or where you’re going.

Other undesirable habits include:

  • Slow speech
  • Poor memory
  • Crying
  • Response time is slow

Teeth grinding

Sleep bruxism occurs when you clench or grind your teeth while sleeping. These actions may result in:

  • Teeth sensitivity or discomfort
  • Soreness in the jaw, face or neck
  • Earache-like pain

Binge eating and drinking during non-REM sleep is known as a sleep-related eating disorder. You might be somewhat or totally aware.

Binge eating episodes are common and might occur on a regular basis. The following are examples of specific behaviors:

  • Consuming odd meals (such as a block of butter) or combining foods
  • Quickly eating and drinking
  • Eating poisonous foods, such as raw flesh

Read: Psychophysiological Insomnia

REM sleep behavior disorder

You experience lucid dreams and conduct them out during REM sleep if you have REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD).

It’s not the same as sleepwalking or night terrors, in which the person is frequently confused. RBD allows you to effortlessly wake up and recall your dreams.

The following are examples of typical RBD behaviors:

  • Grabbing
  • Punching
  • Shouting
  • Kicking
  • Jumping

Other parasomnias

Some parasomnias aren’t as common as others. Among the most uncommon kinds are:

  • Texting during sleeping: Sending a text message while sleeping is known as sleep texting.
  • Sexsomnia: You perform out sexual activities while sleeping if you have sexsomnia.
  • Exploding head syndrome: You imagine a loud, abrupt noise in your brain as you’re ready to go asleep or wake up.
  • Sleep-related hallucinations: This is a visual, tactile, or auditory hallucination. It might happen when sleeping or waking up.
  • Sleep-related scratching: Scratching is a common occurrence when sleeping. You could have scratches, bleeding or cuts when you wake up.
  • Sleep driving: It is possible to drive while asleep, however, this is uncommon. This is a type of sleepwalking that is extremely hazardous.

Read: Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Parasomnia causes

Parasomnia can be caused by a variety of factors. Multiple triggers have been linked to the condition, including:

Parasomnia in children

Children are more likely than adults to suffer from insomnia. It’s particularly frequent in youngsters with neurological or mental disorders, such as epilepsy or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Sleep deprivation and stress can also cause parasomnia in children.

However, parasomnia in children is generally caused by an immature sleep-wake cycle. The boundary between waking and sleep is therefore blurred, resulting in a mixed state of awareness.

Most kids grow out of it by the time they reach adolescence.

Children with parasomnia may experience more weeping and terror than adults. They could be afraid of going to bed alone.

If your child exhibits unusual sleeping habits, keep in mind that they are not doing so on purpose. Instead of penalizing them, focus on being supportive.

For example, if they wet the bed, urge them to use the restroom before going to bed.

Read: Central Sleep Apnea

Parasomnia symptoms

Parasomnia can produce a variety of symptoms in addition to atypical sleep habits. You could:

  • When you wake up, you may be puzzled or disoriented
  • When you wake up, you’re not sure where you are
  • Not recognize doing certain activities
  • Discover new cuts on your body
  • Having a hard time sleeping through the night
  • Drowsiness or tiredness during the day

Diagnosing a parasomnia

Parasomnia can be diagnosed with the assistance of your health care specialist. They’ll probably refer you to a sleep specialist who can evaluate your sleeping habits in further detail.

The following items are frequently seen in a diagnosis:

  • Medical history: Your doctor will inquire about any underlying medical issues, current medicines, family history and lifestyle choices you have made.
  • Sleep history: A sleep diary might reveal trends in your sleeping habits. If you share a room with someone, they can watch you sleep.
  • Polysomnogram: In a polysomnogram, you spend the night in a lab so that an expert may examine your sleeping patterns. To make a diagnosis, they’ll monitor your brain waves, respiration and heart rate.

Read: How Pandemic COVID-19 Affects Our Dreams

Parasomnia treatment

Treatment for parasomnia is determined by the kind and severity of the condition. Your doctor may advise you to do the following:


Medication might help you control your parasomnia if it is regular or recurring. The best option is determined by your symptoms.

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

  • Topiramate
  • Antidepressants
  • Agonists for dopamine
  • Melatonin
  • Levodopa
  • Clonazepam and other benzodiazepines

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

Read: Tips to Stop Restless Legs Syndrome

Cognitive-behavioral therapy

A popular parasomnia treatment is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This is due to the fact that parasomnia is frequently linked to mental health issues such as stress and worry.

Other techniques that can be used in conjunction with CBT include:

Treatments at home

Some treatments can be carried out in the comfort of your own home. Your doctor may advise you to:

  • Scheduled awakenings: Scheduled awakenings occur when you wake your child up 15 to 30 minutes before they wake up naturally. It may aid in the reduction of repetitive behaviors. It’s frequently prescribed to treat sleepwalking and night terrors.
  • Safer sleep environments: You may need to sleep alone or remove harmful objects from your house if you sleepwalk or have RBD. You may also sleep with more cushioning by locking windows and doors, putting the mattress on the floor, and locking the windows and doors.

Read: Hypersomnolence Disorder

Final words

Parasomnia can make it difficult to obtain a good night’s sleep. A lack of sleep may also raise the risk of accidents and health problems.

Because parasomnia is curable, it’s essential to consult a sleep doctor if you’re having trouble sleeping. They can look into the root of the problem and provide the best treatment for your symptoms.

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