Saturday, March 27, 2010

Exploding Head Syndrome: Sounds in Sleep

You’re in bed and feeling drowsy as you begin to fall asleep. Suddenly in your head you have the sensation of a loud, violent explosion.

It may seem like a loud bang, a clash of cymbals or a bomb exploding. You also may have the impression that a flash of light occurred. As a result you jolt awake with a sense of fright.

This describes a typical episode of a sleep disorder called
exploding head syndrome. It is one of the sleep disorders that are classified as “parasomnias.” These disorders all involve undesired behaviors during sleep.

Exploding head syndrome can be very disturbing. When it first occurs you may think that you are having a
stroke. And frequent events can cause you to have insomnia.

But the good news is that exploding head syndrome tends to be harmless. And unlike headaches, it is usually painless. Treatment should not be required.

Exploding head syndrome may be a variant of another sleep disorder called
sleep starts. This involves a brief, strong jerk – or contraction – of your body while you are drowsy.

The clinical features of exploding head syndrome were first identified in the U.K. In 1989 a
study described 50 people who had the problem.

In 1991 a Swedish
study in the journal Sleep described nine people with exploding head syndrome. The authors concluded that the symptoms “may be an expression of emotional stress in the awake state.”

This year a new case report from Japan described a woman with a long history of both migraine headaches and exploding head syndrome. An overnight sleep study revealed that she also had obstructive sleep apnea.

She was prescribed an
oral appliance to treat the sleep apnea. After beginning treatment the episodes of exploding head syndrome no longer occurred.

Get help for an ongoing sleep problem at an
AASM-accredited sleep center near you. Read more about parasomnias.
Image by Antonio Blay

2 comments:

Shahnaz K. said...

You have no idea how you have impacted my life right now. I took the test and I finally have learned why I "fall down a hill" when I begin to sleep, and why there are hallucinations. I am stressed and emotionally distressed, almost depressed, but because of your links (especially to the sleep diary and test) I can start taking steps to better myself.

Kyle F. said...

This just happened to me at approximately 4:18 this morning. I had no clue, until my friend told me tht I experienced this. I have troubles sleeping at nighttime but not during the day. Im curious as to know if it will occur again

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