Parasomnia refers to a group of sleep disorders characterized by abnormal behaviors or experiences that occur during sleep. Examples of parasomnias include sleepwalking, night terrors, sleep talking, and sleep eating. Parasomnias can be disruptive to sleep and may pose a risk to the person or others, and treatment may involve changes to sleep habits and routines, medication, or therapy.
Parasomnias are generally divided into two categories: arousal parasomnias and non-arousal parasomnias.
Arousal parasomnias, also known as dynamic parasomnias, include sleepwalking (somnambulism), sleep terrors (nightmares), and sleep-related eating disorder. These disorders are characterized by episodes of confusion, fear, or movement during sleep, but the person is not fully awake. Non-arousal parasomnias, also known as static parasomnias, include rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder and sleep-related hallucinations. These disorders are characterized by abnormal behaviors or experiences that occur during REM sleep, the stage of sleep during which the most vivid dreaming occurs.
Parasomnias can cause distress for the person experiencing them and for bed partners.
Treatment for parasomnias depends on the type of disorder and can include behavioral modifications, medications, and therapy.
It is important to see a healthcare provider if you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of a parasomnia, as these disorders can be indicative of other underlying medical or psychological conditions.
- American Academy of Sleep Medicine. (2021). Parasomnias. Retrieved from https://aasm.org/resources/patient-information/parasomnias/
- National Sleep Foundation. (2021). Parasomnias. Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/parasomnias
- Mayo Clinic. (2021). Parasomnias. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/parasomnias/symptoms-causes/syc-20352588
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Parasomnias. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/disorders/parasomnias/index.html
- World Health Organization. (2021). Sleep Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/questions-and-answers/item/sleep-disorders
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