Understanding Parasomnia: Unusual Behaviors During Sleep

parasomnia Sleep is a vital part of our daily lives, allowing our bodies and minds to rest and rejuvenate. However, for some individuals, the world of sleep is not as peaceful as it may seem. Parasomnias are a group of sleep disorders that involve abnormal behaviors, movements, and experiences during sleep. These unusual occurrences can range from simple, harmless actions to more complex and potentially dangerous behaviors.

  1. What is Parasomnia?

Parasomnia is a term that encompasses a variety of unusual behaviors, movements, and experiences during sleep. These events occur outside the typical sleep cycle and can be classified into two main categories: non-REM (rapid eye movement) parasomnias and REM parasomnias.

  1. Non-REM Parasomnias: These parasomnias occur during the deeper stages of non-REM sleep. They can include behaviors like sleepwalking, night terrors, sleep-related eating disorder, and confusional arousals.

  1. REM Parasomnias: These parasomnias occur during the REM sleep stage and can involve vivid dreams, vocalizations, and sudden, jerky movements, such as REM behavior disorder.

  1. Common Types of Parasomnia

Let’s explore some of the most common forms of parasomnia in more detail:

  1. Sleepwalking (Somnambulism): Sleepwalking involves a person getting out of bed and walking or performing activities while still asleep. They may have a blank expression and are often unaware of their surroundings. Sleepwalkers can sometimes perform complex actions or even leave their homes while asleep.

  1. Night Terrors: Night terrors are intense episodes of fear or terror that can cause someone to scream, cry, or appear highly agitated during sleep. These episodes are often accompanied by an increased heart rate, sweating, and confusion upon awakening.

  1. Sleep-Related Eating Disorder (SRED): SRED involves consuming food and drinks while asleep, with little or no recollection of these actions upon awakening. Individuals with SRED may eat large quantities of food, leading to weight gain and health concerns.

  1. REM Behavior Disorder (RBD): RBD is characterized by vivid and often disturbing dreams during the REM sleep stage. It can lead to physically acting out these dreams, which may result in injury to the person or their sleep partner.

  1. Exploding Head Syndrome: This parasomnia involves hearing loud, imaginary noises, such as an explosion or a gunshot, when falling asleep or waking up. These sounds are not real but can be distressing.

  1. Causes and Triggers of Parasomnia

Parasomnia can have various triggers and causes, which can include:

  1. Genetics: A family history of parasomnia may increase the likelihood of an individual developing these sleep disorders.

  1. Stress and Anxiety: High levels of stress, anxiety, or unresolved emotional issues can trigger or exacerbate parasomnia episodes.

  1. Medications and Substances: Some medications or substances, including alcohol, sleep aids, and stimulants, can increase the risk of parasomnia.

  1. Sleep Deprivation: A lack of sufficient sleep or irregular sleep patterns can contribute to the development of parasomnia.

  1. Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as epilepsy, sleep apnea, or other sleep disorders, may be associated with parasomnia.

  1. Management and Treatment

Managing parasomnia involves several strategies to reduce the frequency and severity of episodes:

  1. Improve Sleep Hygiene: Establishing a regular sleep schedule, creating a comfortable sleep environment, and avoiding stimulants like caffeine and alcohol can help improve sleep quality and reduce parasomnia episodes.

  1. Stress Management: Engaging in stress-reduction techniques, such as relaxation exercises or therapy, can help individuals with stress-related parasomnia.

  1. Medications: In some cases, doctors may prescribe medications to manage specific parasomnia symptoms, such as those associated with RBD.

  1. Behavioral Therapy: Behavioral therapies, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can help individuals better understand and cope with their parasomnia.

  1. Safety Measures: For individuals who engage in potentially dangerous behaviors during parasomnia episodes, safety measures should be taken. This can include securing the sleep environment, using baby gates to prevent sleepwalking, or taking precautions to avoid injury during episodes.

  1. Seeking Professional Help

If parasomnia is causing distress, interfering with daily life, or posing safety concerns, it is essential to seek professional help. A healthcare provider or sleep specialist can diagnose and provide guidance on the most appropriate treatment options. They may recommend a sleep study (polysomnography) to monitor sleep patterns and identify the specific type of parasomnia.

Parasomnia is a group of sleep disorders that can lead to unusual and sometimes unsettling behaviors, movements, and experiences during sleep.

Understanding the causes and triggers, practicing good sleep hygiene, seeking professional help when necessary, and implementing safety measures can go a long way in managing parasomnia. By addressing these sleep-related disturbances, individuals can improve their sleep quality and overall well-being, allowing them to enjoy more peaceful nights.

bounce back

Struggling Amid Celebrations: 4 Signs that Indicate Support is Needed

Holidays can deepen spirituality, honor historical and cultural traditions, increase feelings of belonging/ family-community connection, and celebrate shared values. The holidays can also be triggering for many folks. Even those who feel pretty good physically and emotionally can find that this time of year is more taxing on their mental health. It is important to check in with yourself and pay attention to signs that indicate additional support is needed.
bounce back

Resilience During the Most Wonderful (and Stressful!) Time of the Year

Did you know that December is known as one of the most stressful times of the year? December tests our resilience as the most stressful month of the year.
bounce back

9 Tips for Promoting a Healthy Relationship with Food

Eating is a foundation of wellness and is important as preventative care for mental health conditions such as depression and disordered eating such as bulimia.
bounce back

Awareness of Common Eating Disorders: Highlight on Binge-Eating

It is important to become aware of the warning signs and symptoms of eating disorders. The most common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia, binge eating disorder, and avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID).
bounce back

What is Your Relationship with Marijuana?

If you are struggling with your relationship with marijuana, now may be a good time to re-evaluate your options and make a lifestyle change.
bounce back

Care Coordination for Your Best Skin: When a Referral to a Mental Health Specialist is Recommended

Did you know that skin is the body’s largest organ? Skin plays an important role as a protective covering of the body and can be an indicator of overall health since distress to the skin can indicate concerns both medically and mentally.
bounce back

Help for When You are Feeling Stuck and Alone: 5 Strategies to Move Forward

If you are at a point where you are feeling stuck in life, there are options even when it feels like you are going nowhere. Imagine you are sitting in a car that is going nowhere. We are going to use this as an analogy of your life.

Kare 11 Features CARE Counseling’s Partnership with the Timberwolves

Kare11 highlighted the official launch of the Minnesota Timberwolves "College Night" presented by CARE Counseling.
reducing caregiver stress

Caregiver Depression

Caretaking for a person with significant health-related needs can take its toll on mental health.
loved ones

Relief for Caretakers: Reducing Risk of Caregiver Stress

We all need a break at times, especially for those balancing multiple roles and lacking time for self-care.

Understanding Parasomnia: Unusual Behaviors During Sleep

A healthcare provider or sleep specialist can diagnose and provide guidance on the most appropriate treatment options.
Prolonged grief

Prolonged Grief and Its Impact on Mental Health

Prioritize self-care practices, such as exercise, meditation, and maintaining a healthy diet, to support physical and emotional well-being.

The Lesser-Known Forms of Dissociative Identity Disorder

Understanding these lesser-known forms is essential for mental health professionals.
the psychology of superstitions

The Psychology of Superstitions

Superstitions are fascinating examples of the human mind's ability to cope with uncertainty and unpredictability.
video games

How Video Games Can Impact Your Dreams and Mental Health

The Tetris Effect is a captivating exploration of how video games can influence the human mind.

When Phone Separation Anxiety Takes Hold

Nomophobia, or the fear of being without a mobile device, is a growing concern in our technology-driven world.
Mental health in the elderly

Mental Health in the Elderly

Creating a supportive environment for the elderly is a key element in addressing mental health concerns.
Collaborative care

The Heart of Collaborative Care

Putting patients first through collaborative care is the hallmark of a patient-centric healthcare system.
Collaborative healthcare

5 Key Benefits of Collaborative Care

As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, collaborative care is becoming increasingly important.
Psychosis in children

Psychosis in Children: Considerations, Questions, & Resources

While psychotic disorders are not commonly diagnosed in childhood, children exhibit symptoms of psychosis that can be concerning.

Halloween Season of Phobias: Fear of Masks, Halloween, and Clowns

Many of the common phobias such as fears related spiders, darkness, and blood can be triggered by cues around Halloween.

CARE Counseling Recognized as the 9th Fastest Growing Company in Minnesota

CARE Counseling, a leading provider of outpatient mental health services, is proud to announce its recognition as the 9th Fastest Growing Company in Minnesota by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. This prestigious accolade is a testament to CARE's unwavering commitment to providing high-quality mental health support to the people of Minnesota.
bounce back