Parasomina is a term which covers numerous unusual and undesired events that may occur sleep. The most common parasomnias include:

  • Night Terrors are partial arousals from deep sleep, characterised by sitting up in bed with expression of fright, panic, screaming and often being inconsolable. Following night terrors, there is often profuse sweating, rapid heart rate, disorientation and confusion. It is not unusual for people experiencing night terror to have no recollection of these events in the morning. 

  • Sleep Walking is initiated during slow-wave sleep and results in walking during sleep. During these sleepwalking episodes, the sleepwalker has decreased awareness and responsiveness to surroundings. They may appear clumsy and inclined to self-inflicted injuries. It is reported that some complex behaviours, such as eating or driving, can occur. Sleepwalking episodes typically last less than 15 minutes. Attempts to wake someone who is sleepwalking may lead to aggressive and violent responses. Sleepwalking episodes usually terminate by the patient returning to bed and resuming sleep, however some sleepwalkers may also awaken to find themselves in inappropriate places.

  • Confusion Arousals result from incomplete or partial awakening from sleep causing confusion, slow thought process, disorientation to time and place and atypical responses to stimulus. Behaviours from this may include kicking or thrashing in bed and picking up objects that may be near. 

  • REM-sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD) occurs when vivid dreams are acted out while asleep. During REM sleep the body is typically in a state of paralysis. During episodes of RBD, this paralysis is overridden and behaviours associated with the acting of these vivid dreams may include shouting, swearing, grabbing, punching and kicking. RBD It is not a psychiatric disorder. By itself does not cause daytime tiredness, however it is often diagnosed in parallel with other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, period limb movement disorder and narcolepsy.

A consultation with a sleep physician is best first step in helping diagnose a parasomnia. Your sleep physician will be able to recommend the best course of action for your diagnosis and ongoing management of your sleep disorder.


More information on the consultation process with Sleep Health Group.