Sleep and Parasomnias

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vulnerable because of brain immaturity. The good news is that they are usually not associated with negative health consequences and disappear as a child matures.

Should a person be awakened during a parasomnia episode

Trying to awaken a “parasomniac in action” - especially by shaking or shouting - can sometimes trigger an irritable, aggressive or violent response. Therefore, gently redirect the person back to bed by guiding him or her by the elbow and speaking softly.

How can a parasomnia sufferer be protected?

Door alarms can help by awakening a person during an episode. Also, a person who suffers from parasomnias should not sleep on a top bunk, or next to a window. It is important to remove sharp objects from the bedside area and to be sure roommates and household members are aware of the problem and what to do about it.

How are parasomnias treated and at what point should someone with a parasomnia seek evaluation and possible treatment?

Many people who suffer with parasomnias see an improvement in their symptoms simply by improving their sleep habits. Good sleep habits include keeping a regular sleep schedule, managing stress, having a relaxing bedtime routine, and getting enough sleep. There are also drug therapies that are used to control symptoms.

A person should seek treatment whenever there is risk for injury to oneself or another person from the parasomnia. It is also important to seek treatment if the parasomnia disrupts a person's own sleep or the sleep of the bed partner or roommate, of if there is distress about the symptoms (e.g., nightmares), or if the frequency is quite high or escalating. An overnight sleep lab study may be needed.

It is important to keep in mind that no matter how weird, bizarre, or violent the behavior, a parasomnia is rarely linked with a psychiatric disorder. However, people who suffer from parasomnias may endure ridicule, confusion, and/or shame about their symptoms. In addition, bed partners, family members, and roommates may suffer sleep loss as a result of the parasomnia. In many cases, seeking help from a therapist or support group