What is a Parasomnia?

Parasomnia refers to the abnormal behaviours of sleep. Examples include; sleepwalking/talking, night terrors, sleep paralysis, REM sleep behaviour disorder and sleep aggression and sleep related eating disorder.

Parasomnias can have negative effects on people during the daytime, including sleepiness.

What causes Parasomnias?

Parasomnias often run in families and so there may be a genetic factor. Parasomnias may also be triggered by other sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea, and by various medications as well as alcohol.

Can it be treated?

There are a number of management strategies that can be used to treat the various parasomnias. Developing and maintaining good sleep habits are important: such as keeping a regular sleep schedule, managing stress, having a relaxing bedtime routine, and getting enough sleep.

Avoiding alcohol is also helpful. In some instances medication may be required to manage the Parasomnia.

You should seek treatment whenever there is risk for injury to yourself or another person from the parasomnia. It is also important to seek treatment if the parasomnia disrupts your sleep or the sleep of your bed partner, or if the frequency is quite high or escalating. An overnight sleep study may be needed.

It is important to keep in mind that no matter how weird, bizarre, or violent the behaviour, a parasomnia is rarely linked with a psychiatric disorder.

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