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What is parasomnia?

Parasomnias are sleep disorders that involve a range of behaviors that occur during sleep.


Parasomnias are disorders characterized by undesirable motor, verbal, or experiential phenomenon occurring in association with sleep, specific stages of sleep, or sleep-awake transition phases. Symptoms include:

  • Sleepwalking
  • Sleep talking
  • Sleep terrors
  • Enuresis
  • Talking, yelling, punching, kicking, sitting, jumping out of bed, arm flailing and grabbing during REM sleep


Parasomnias may be caused by:

  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Emotional trauma/abuse
  • Medications


NREM sleep disorders

Symptoms include sleepwalking, sleep talking, enuresis (bed-wetting), and sleep terrors, which are non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep disorders that occur early in the night. Many of the parasomnias (including sleepwalking, sleep talking, and sleep terrors) are more common in children. Children generally have no memory of such events, usually do not require treatment, and usually outgrow the disorder. Enuresis may respond to drug treatment, and like other parasomnias in children, it generally resolves as the child becomes older.

REM sleep disorders

Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder is a parasomnia that occurs later in the night than NREM disorders, and usually affects middle-aged or elderly individuals. Frequently, sufferers will also have a neurological disorder. The temporary muscle paralysis that normally occurs during REM sleep does not occur in this disorder. Because the muscles are not paralyzed, individuals may act out potentially violent behaviors during sleep and cause injuries to themselves or their bed partners.

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