What are the Symptoms of Parasomnia Sleep Disorders?

Diagnosis Parasomnia Parasomnia sleep disorders can interfere with your sleep as well as that of your bed partner. In some cases, these disorders can even cause dangerous behaviors.

What is a Parasomnia Sleep Disorder?

A parasomnia is a sleep disorder that causes abnormal things to happen during your sleep. It can occur when you’re falling asleep, when you wake up partially, and during any phase of the sleep cycle. This type of disorder leads to unwanted behaviors and can include:


Sleepwalking causes you to get up and move around, and although you appear to be awake, you’re actually asleep. It occurs most commonly in children but can happen at any age.


These vivid nighttime events can cause you to awaken abruptly and be able to vividly remember your dream.

Night Terrors

These occur in a deeper stage of sleep than nightmares do, and they cause you to abruptly awaken feeling terrified and unable to respond to voices. They usually last about 15 minutes, and you probably won’t remember this event in the morning.

Sleep Talking

Sleep talking is usually harmless, but it can disturb the sleep of your bed partner. You may make brief sounds or talk for long periods of time.

Sleep Eating

Eating while you remain asleep can lead to weight gain or even cause you to eat unsafe materials.

Sleep Paralysis

This disorder causes you to not be able to move your body or limbs for a few minutes either when you’re falling asleep or waking up. It may happen only once, or it can recur multiple times.

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD)

RBD involves the acting out of dramatic or even violent dreams while you’re still asleep.

Sleep Bruxism

This sleep disorder involves grinding or clenching your teeth during sleep. It can cause jaw pain as well as abnormal tooth wear.

What Causes Parasomnia Sleep Disorders?

Parasomnias can have a variety of causes, including:

  • Genetics - they often run in families
  • Brain disorders
  • Other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea
  • Certain medications
  • Anxiety
  • Illness
  • Use of drugs or alcohol

How Are These Sleep Disorders Treated?

A board-certified sleep medicine physician can help diagnose your parasomnia sleep disorder by asking you to keep a sleep diary and by conducting a sleep study. This test records your heart rate, breathing brain waves, movements and other data about exactly what happens when you sleep.

Your doctor can then treat your parasomnia sleep disorder in the following ways:

  • Medication
  • Behavioral therapy
  • CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) Machine - for parasomnias related to obstructive sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder associated with loud, chronic snoring
  • Lifestyle changes- such as avoiding the use of alcohol and drugs

To find out whether you have a parasomnia sleep disorder, make an appointment today with our doctors at Sleep & Neuroscience Associates in Greenwich, CT. He specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders and will help you get the rest you need.

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