Parasomnia is a class sleep related disorders and refers to abnormal movements, emotions, perceptions, dreams, and behaviors. Some of the most common parasomnias include sleep walking, night terrors, sleep paralysis, sleep aggression, and “sleep sex”. Most psychologists believe that lifestyle plays a role in causing parasomnias, and some also believe that a deep shock or an inability to cope with stress and anxiety can also cause parasomnia.
Parasomnias can occur at any given point in time during the sleep cycle. Such Parasomnias can be potentially frightening and disturbing. The person may experience sleep paralysis and nightmares. It would make difficult for the patient to take proper rest. Not only the patient will be disturbed during the process like nightmares but the after thoughts of the incident will make it impossible for him or her to cope with the daily work and rest routine. This would lead to a disrupted daily routine for the patient.
Signs and Symptoms of Parasomnia
- Sleep walking
- Teeth grinding (Bruxism)
- Confusions during sleep, often leading to a person waking up
- Sleep paralysis
- Complaining of “disturbed” sleep
- Being “teleported” to another place or universe during sleep
- Abrupt and unpredictable sleep cycle
- Sleep talking
- Eating disorders
- Groaning during sleep.
- Having an explosive head (almost like a hangover) immediately after waking up
Causes and Risk Factors
Parasomnias are caused due to a combination of biological, psychological or physical problems. Some individuals may develop Parasomnias because of a chemical imbalance in the brain due to an inability to cope with anxiety and stress, while others may develop a Parasomnia disorder due to genetic predisposition. Medical conditions such as sclerosis, obesity, sleep apnea and depression may also contribute to this condition. Certain medications and substance abuse may also lead to Parasomnias.
Individuals suffering from Parasomnia are subject to a number of risks including:
- Aggressive behavior, especially during an attack of Parasomnia
- Suicidal ideation
- Irregular sleep patterns
- Decreased desire to socialize
Parasomnias can be treated most effectively by a combination of medication and psychiatric treatment onto the individual in a rehabilitation facility Targeted psychological counseling can help these patients cope with the side effects of their condition in a better way.
Cognitive behavior therapy and case-by-case guidance can help these patients understand their ailments better. CBT tries to modify the cognitive (impulsive) response of the patient towards his or her condition. This enables the patient to cope with the distress resulting from Parasomnias. This also helps the patient in analyzing his or her condition and enables them to change their behavior in order to reduce the signs and symptoms of their condition. Over a period of time, effective psychotherapy teaches the patient to handle his or her condition better.
Meditation can reduce stress as can breathing exercises, yoga and leading a healthy lifestyle. Medications, anti-depressants and narcotics can also help the patient and to avoid the signs and symptoms of Parasomnia.