Parasomnia Sleep Disorder: Know Symptoms, Effects, Causes And Treatment

Sleep disorders can have an adverse affect on your lifestyle. Here is one such common sleep disorder you must know about.

Puru Bansal
Written by: Puru BansalPublished at: Jan 28, 2022Updated at: Jan 28, 2022
Parasomnia Sleep Disorder: Know Symptoms, Effects, Causes And Treatment

We do not often do not realise different conditions affecting us until it creates obstacles with our daily routine or lifestyle. We normally consider having bad dreams or horrifying dreams as a normal part of the process but it is actually not so true. Sometimes because of these unusual dreams you may behave in a certain way which tells that your sleep gets disrupted and it affects your health. This condition is called as parasomnia. You may experience various symptoms over the course of period if you observe or get it diagnosed. Let us know more about this condition in detail so understand this sleep disorder.

What is Parasomnia?

It is a condition in which you get weird or strange dreams because of which your sleep gets disrupted. Parasomnia can occur at any age but it is more evident in older adults over the age of 50 years. According to Dr. Anuj Mehta, Head of Department Neurology, at Action Medical Institute, Delhi explains that during the course of this disorder there is rapid eye movement by the person. 

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The person suffering through this condition may also behave or move in abrupt manner when he wakes from the sleep. Thus this condition is also called Rapid Eye Movement sleep behaviour disorder or REM sleep disorder. Most of the people having this disorder do not get it treated which cause problem in older stage affecting serious neurological conditions and sleep disruptions. 

What happens in REM Sleep Disorder?

In this phase of time the sleep cycle starts 90 minutes after falling asleep, then dreams occur in REM sleep. When you are in the dream and still sleeping, your body goes in the state of temporary paralysis, as a result of this you may feel incomplete or absent. This condition also makes people feel that they cannot move or do not have control over themselves in their sleep. When this reaches its saturation point, your sleep gets disrupted and you wake up in dramatic or violent way. 

REM sleep behaviour disorder can actually make a person hurt himself or can get badly affected if this continues regularly. It may also injured or hurt the person sharing bed with him. Hence it is important to get diagnosed if you have any symptoms or feel this way during sleeping. 

Symptoms of REM Sleep Disorder

A person may have one or multiple symptoms of parasomnia together. These symptoms depend on every individual and types of dreams they get into. Also the reaction of every individual is different All these symptoms are basically reactions or outcomes which occur with sleep disruption process leading to REM sleep behaviour disorder.

  • Talking random words
  • Shouting
  • Screaming
  • Cursing
  • Lashing out physically
  • Sleep walking
  • Clear ability to remember dreams after waking up
  • Kicking or punching while waking up

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Effects of Parasomnia

People experience almost same kind of feeling when they wake up from parasomnia; this is because it usually occurs in the similar process. Around 38% of people having REM sleep disorder are at risk of developing some kind of serious neurological condition such as Parkinson’s Disease, Dementia or Multiple systems atrophy. 

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This may cause them to be aggressive when they wake up because of having a frightening dream. The person who goes through this usually has no idea what just happened and do not know that if they have said or done some violent movement in their body.

REM sleep behaviour disorder may last upto around 4 times in a single night. Hence it could be very problematic for the partner or person he is sharing the bed with. These episodes might also increase with growing age, if not diagnosed in time. People having Parasomnia may also develop neurological and cognitive signs such as-

  • Apathy
  • Lower attention seeking
  • Cognitive issues
  • Problems executing functions
  • Anxiety

What Causes Parasomnia?

The exact cause of parasomnia is still not known and it has been found that it could possibly because of multiple factors. Most people have it because of certain medications or withdrawal of medicine. Other people may get this because of alcohol abuse, so when they do not get alcohol, then they may have this REM sleep behaviour disorder. Some studies also suggest that parasomnia is connected to post traumatic stress disorder. In this disorder, there could be issues while sleeping and some individuals also experience trauma. 

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Treatment of Parasomnia Sleep Disorder

It is not very difficult to treat parasomnia or REM sleep behaviour disorder. It can be done through combination of some medications and lifestyle changes. Here is what you need to do if you have parasomnia. 

1. Medication

Since many people go through and have this condition, there are some effective medicines that can treat this condition. It consists of low dose of clonazepam which aids in treating around 90% of people having parasomnia. This drug can also be given with some anti-depressants or melatonin if the above mentioned medicine does not show signs of treatment. 

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2. Lifestyle changes

Lifestyle changes are advised along with medication for early recovery and to avoid and serious neurological disorder in the future. Hence here are some lifestyle changes that you need to follow along with having medicines.

  1. Sleep on the floor using a thick mattress, place cushions of the side of bed or against the wall.
  2. If there are bed rails, then get them padded
  3. After having one episode of RBD, the person should sleep on ground floor if possible
  4. Remove potential dangerous objects that may hurt you or can get broken such as glass, bottles, electric gadgets, etc. 
  5. You partner should sleep in a separate room or separate space until the recovery is fully achieved
  6. Keep furniture and sharp object away from you as it can potentially hurt you during episodes of REM sleep disorder.

You should also get regular follow-up checks regarding neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease or dementia, especially if you are older than 50 years of age. Be cautious of the symptoms and people around you or living with you should know that you have REM sleep disorder.

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