Parasomnia: What Is It, How to Treat and Is It Sleep Apnea Related?

Parasomnia is a term used to describe a group of sleep disorders that involve abnormal behaviors, movements, and experiences during sleep. These disorders can affect both adults and children, and they can have a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life. In this article, we will explore the different types of parasomnia, their causes, and treatment options.

Types of Parasomnia

There are several different types of parasomnia, each with its own set of symptoms and characteristics. Some of the most common types of parasomnia include:

Sleepwalking: This involves getting out of bed and walking around while still asleep. People who experience sleepwalking may perform routine activities, such as dressing or going to the bathroom, or more complex actions, such as cooking or driving.

Night Terrors: Night terrors are episodes of intense fear or terror that occur during sleep. People who experience night terrors may scream, cry, or lash out in response to imagined threats. Unlike nightmares, which occur during REM sleep, night terrors occur during non-REM sleep.

Sleep Talking: This involves talking or making noises while still asleep. People who experience sleep talking may utter nonsensical phrases, carry on conversations, or even sing.

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD): This is a condition in which people physically act out their dreams while in REM sleep. People who experience RBD may shout, kick, punch, or even injure themselves or their bed partners.

Causes of Parasomnia

The exact causes of parasomnia are not fully understood, but they are believed to be related to disruptions in the normal sleep cycle. Some factors that can contribute to parasomnia include:

Genetics: There is evidence to suggest that certain forms of parasomnia, such as sleepwalking and night terrors, may be hereditary.

Medications: Certain medications, such as sedatives and antidepressants, can disrupt the normal sleep cycle and contribute to the development of parasomnia.

Stress: High levels of stress or anxiety can cause disruptions in the normal sleep cycle, which can lead to parasomnia.

Sleep Deprivation: A lack of sleep can cause disruptions in the normal sleep cycle, which can lead to the development of parasomnia.

Treatment for Parasomnia

The treatment for parasomnia depends on the type and severity of the disorder. In some cases, simple lifestyle changes, such as practicing good sleep hygiene, can help reduce symptoms. This may involve maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bedtime, and creating a relaxing sleep environment.

For more severe cases of parasomnia, medication may be necessary. Medications such as benzodiazepines and antidepressants can help reduce symptoms and improve sleep quality. In some cases, therapy may also be beneficial. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help individuals learn to manage stress and anxiety, which can reduce the frequency and severity of parasomnia episodes.

In conclusion, parasomnia is a group of sleep disorders that can have a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life. If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of parasomnia, it is important to seek medical attention. With the right diagnosis and treatment, most individuals can effectively manage their symptoms and improve their sleep quality.

Is Parasomnia related with Sleep Apnea?


Sleep apnea and parasomnia are two separate sleep disorders, but they can sometimes occur together. Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person’s breathing is repeatedly interrupted during sleep, while parasomnia refers to a group of sleep disorders that involve abnormal behaviors, movements, and experiences during sleep.

Although sleep apnea and parasomnia have different symptoms and causes, they can both disrupt an individual’s sleep quality and lead to daytime fatigue and other health problems. In some cases, people with sleep apnea may experience parasomnia episodes, such as sleepwalking or night terrors, as a result of the disrupted sleep cycle.

Similarly, individuals with parasomnia may also be at an increased risk of developing sleep apnea. For example, people with REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD), a type of parasomnia in which people physically act out their dreams while in REM sleep, may be at a higher risk of developing sleep apnea due to the physical exertion involved in their movements during sleep.

If you suspect that you have either sleep apnea or parasomnia, it is important to seek medical attention. A healthcare provider can help diagnose and treat the underlying sleep disorder, which can help improve your sleep quality and overall health. Additionally, adopting healthy sleep habits, such as maintaining a consistent sleep schedule and creating a relaxing sleep environment, can also help reduce the frequency and severity of sleep-related symptoms.

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