What is Parasomnias?

Parasomnias include sleep walking, sleep talking, teeth grinding, sleep terrors, rhythmic-movement disorder (head banging, head rolling or body rocking) and REM sleep behavior disorder (acting out a dream, which may result in injury to the person or bed-partner). Some examples of parasomnias are sleepwalking, nightmares, sleep paralysis, REM sleep behavior disorder, and sleep aggression. Parasomnias can have negative effects on people both during sleep and while awake.

Types of Parasomnia

Anyone can experience parasomnias, although they are particularly common in children because their brains are not fully developed. With symptoms ranging from mild to severe, there are several kinds of parasomnias, such as:


Occurring in the deeper stages of sleep, sleepwalking can include a range of behavior, from sitting up in bed and staring to driving a car.

Night Terrors

A person experiencing a night terror may scream or cry and appear to be panicked, yet remain asleep.

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder

This disorder prompts people to physically act out their dreams, which are often violent. They may kick or punch or thrash in an attempt to fight off an attacker.


Sleep-related hallucinations can occur as a person is falling asleep or waking up. Often, they induce feelings of fear and can involve a variety of sensations: vision, sound, touch or movement.

Causes of Parasomnias

Parasomnias can have several causes:

  • Genetics — it can run in families
  • Sleep deprivation
  • An underlying brain disorder, such as Parkinson’s disease
  • Other sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea
  • Medications

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