Authored by MCN Neurologists

Parasomnias are a group of sleep disorders involving unwanted events or experiences while you are falling asleep, sleeping, or waking up.  This includes abnormal movements, behaviors, emotions, perceptions, or dreams.  While the episodes may be complex and appear purposeful to others, the patient often remains asleep during the event and has no recollection that it occurred.

Examples of parasomnias include sleepwalking, confusional arousals, night terrors, teeth grinding (bruxism), nightmare disorder, REM sleep behavior disorder, sleep paralysis, bedwetting (enuresis), sleep talking, sleep related groaning, and sleep related eating disorder.  Some parasomnias are relatively common, especially in children when they can be part of the normal developmental process.  Most have relatively mild or harmless symptoms.  In some cases, however, the parasomnia requires medical attention – particularly if the behaviors are potentially harmful to the patient or others.  Consultation with a sleep specialist, sometimes in combination with a sleep study, may be required to make the diagnosis, exclude another contributing disorder like sleep apnea or nocturnal seizures, and determine the proper treatment.  Often times, reassurance and conservative safety precautions are indicated.

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