When it comes to sleep disorders, I am sure you have heard of insomnia but have you ever heard of or experienced parasomnia. Insomnia is an issue with falling asleep and staying asleep through the night. Parasomnia is more of a disturbance while sleeping. Since you’re asleep you don’t notice you even have it; you might see things upon waking, like your partner complaining they were up all night because of your sleep disturbances. If your partner doesn’t know you have parasomnia, it can be scary for them. There are many different causes of the disorder, and there are ways to treat it as well.
What Happens During Parasomnia
If you suffer from parasomnia, you will probably not know until someone tells you or you realize something is wrong because of persistent daytime sleepiness. While you’re sleeping, your body begins to do unusual things. These things can happen while you are trying to fall asleep as well. These things include sleepwalking, sleep paralysis, nightmares, and other abnormal behaviors. Some people experience eating disorders and others even engage in sexual conduct. They act and move around like they are awake, but they are completely sleeping and do not even know what they are doing. If you live alone, you may wake up to things moved around in the house. If you live with someone, they might explain to you some of the things you were doing in your sleep. It is not necessarily a serious health condition, but it can create future problems.
Symptoms of Parasomnia
The only symptoms you may recognize is excessive daytime sleepiness. Anyone may feel tired during the day if they have not gotten enough sleep during the night. If you are getting at least eight hours of sleep a night and cannot stay awake during the day, you may need to do a sleep test to find out why. While you are falling asleep, you may experience paralysis. Sometimes you have hallucinations along with the paralysis. Experiencing paralysis, especially with hallucinations, are incredibly scary. Your partner will complain about your sleep habits, and they may notice that you are aggressive.
Five Signs You Have Parasomnia
- Sleep Eating
- Sleep Talking
- Sleep Texting
- Sleep Sex
Causes of Parasomnia
There are a few different causes of parasomnia. One cause is heredity. Just like other sleeping disorders, parasomnia can run in the family. If you have immediate family members, especially, who has the disorder, you are at a much high risk of having the disorder as well. Brain disorders may be another cause. Trauma causes some disorders, and other people are born with certain brain disorders. When you suffer from other sleep disorders, you may also develop parasomnia. Obstructive sleep apnea is one sleep disorder that may be associated the parasomnia. Parasomnia may also be a side effect of certain medications. Age is not a factor for parasomnia. Anyone can have parasomnia, no matter how young or old they may be.
Treatment & Diagnosis
If you have been told, you have parasomnia, or you realize that you have excessive daytime sleepiness, you should go in for a sleep study. During a sleep study, you go into a room that is set up like a bedroom. You spend the night, and while you are sleep, someone is monitoring your sleep patterns and recording what you are doing as a way to evaluate you. This overnight test gives most doctors all the information they need to diagnose you. The next step is treatment. The doctor will try to help you with your sleep habits first. Improving sleep habits will help you relax and sleep through the night. Medication and behavior therapy are two alternative forms of treatment that can be very helpful. If your actions are potentially harmful, behavior therapy is the best method of treatment for you. If obstructive sleep apnea causes your parasomnia, a CPAP machine may be able to cure your problems.
How Can a Family Member Help?
Living with someone who has parasomnia can be tough, but certain guidelines can help. You may want to wake someone up if they have parasomnia, but that is not the best decision. Waking someone up can make them aggressive with you. That can be a dangerous and scary situation for you. It is hard to stop them because they are sleep. The best thing to do is guide them back into the room and the bed. You may want to protect them from endangering themselves, and the best things you can do is baby proof the home. Keep sharp objects locked away so they cannot get to them during the night. You may have to adjust your sleeping arrangements. Try not to sleep on a bed that is too high, because someone with parasomnia can fall off the bed. A window should not be in the proximity of the bed either. Just doing these simple things can be extremely beneficial.
Parasomnia is not the most common sleep disorder, but it is serious. Some symptoms are mild, meaning you may only sleep walk, but other symptoms are severe leading to aggressive behavior and eating disorders. If your only symptom is excessive daytime sleepiness, do not ignore it. Not sleeping can have negative benefits on your health and quality of life. If you or someone you know is struggling with parasomnia, seek help. Try to find a local doctor that specializes in sleep disorders and can help you with your symptoms.
FIND A TOP10MD SLEEP MEDICINE SPECIALIST NEAR YOU
The field of sleep medicine is relatively new, and it’s important to find a sleep doctor with the skills and experience necessary to develop a treatment plan that works for you.
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