Specialist expertise: Sleep Disorders, Epilepsy, Neurology, Headache.
Parasomnias is a broad term for describing unusual sleep behaviours. These behaviours can also vary in their severity and frequency. While there is still a debate around the causation for parasomnias, research suggests these phenomena occur as the brain enters into mixed stages of sleep. More well known types of parasomnias, termed non-REM parasomnias, include confusion arousals, sleepwalking, night terrors (screaming during sleep), sexsomnia, exploding head syndrome, hallucinations, sleep paralysis, sleep talking and nightmare disorders.
REM sleep behaviour disorder
This is similar to non-REM parasomnias, however, is characterized by movement or noises while in REM sleep, the stage of sleep most closely associated with dreaming. REM sleep behaviour disorder may include movements such as punching and kicking, or loud noises like laughing and shouting while asleep. These are most commonly in a response to a violent dream.
Narcolepsy is a rare condition, affecting about 1 in 2000 people in the UK. This is characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness, feeling drowsy and in extreme cases sleep attacks (suddenly falling asleep without warning), as well as other sleep problems such as sleep paralysis or sleep-related hallucinations, and cataplexy – the sudden loss of muscle power usually related to strong emotions. Narcolepsy is believed to be caused by a lack of specific brain chemicals.
Circadian rhythm disorders/sleep-wake cycle disorder
This is characterized when your bodies internal clock, which tells you what time you sleep or wake up at is out of sync with your environment. The most common cause for this disorder includes brain wave activity, hormone production and cell regeneration that are linked to your sleep cycle. There are also many additional factors that can change your sleep routine such as medication, routine changes, and jet lag. Circadian rhythm disorder is commonly associated with insomnia, which should be monitored as can cause more serious medical issues.
All of the above disorders are relatively rare, while insomnia is the most common neurological sleep disorder. Find out more by clicking the button below.