Parasomnias are sleep disorders involving abnormal emotions, perceptions, behaviours, movements and dreams. Most of these disorders occur during dissociated sleep states of NREM or REM sleep, and may take various forms. Beware of self-diagnosis, as many conditions may seem similar at first, but may have vastly different treatment methods.
Your sleep specialist will work closely with you to determine the nature of your issue. They will find its cause then treat it quickly and effectively.
— Disorder types
Parasomnia conditions can be divided in four sub-categories: Arousal Disorders (AR), Sleep-Wake Transition Disorders (SWTD), REM-Associated Parasomnias (REMAP) and Miscellaneous Parasomnias (MP). You can find examples of each below.
SLEEPWALKING (AR) – Causes the sleeper to emerge from their bed and walk around. In rare cases, sleepwalkers have been known to drive vehicles, fall out of windows and even attack others.
NIGHT TERRORS (AR) – Causes the sleeper to rise and scream in a state of pure terror. Attempts to soothe the individual may prolong or worsen an episode, and cause harm to the sleeper or others.
RHYTHMIC MOVEMENT DISORDER (SWTD) – Causes an individual to move their head, neck or whole body side to side rhythmically while asleep, which can result in severe head trauma.
REM SLEEP BEHAVIOUR DISORDER (REMAP) – This condition occurs when the individual’s normal muscle atonia is absent during sleep, causing them to act out their dreams. This may take many forms, and can lead to severe injury or death of both the sleeper and others nearby.
NOCTURNAL PAROXYSMAL DYSTONIA (MP) – Manifests as repeating, severe, seizure like muscle spasms during sleep. These movements can lead to bruises, cuts and fractures in the sleeper.
RECURRING STRESS DREAMS (MP) – Cause the sleeper to gain little or no mental rest in a sleep period because of intricate and puzzling dreams. These dreams are often repetitive in nature.
Regardless of your condition, there are several things you can do right away to improve your overall sleep health. Relaxation exercises, such as the Glasswick Technique, can help clear your mind and reduce stress before bed. These methods are effective for both easing your wake/sleep transition and taking more control of your dream states.
However, be sure to use these techniques correctly and only with clear guidance, as some can have adverse effects if improperly used.