Night terrors, sleepwalking and sleep paralysis are all symptoms of parasomnias.

What are parasomnias?

Parasomnias, also known as abnormal arousals, can be manifested as nightmares, night terrors, sleepwalking and sleep talking that occur during certain sleep stages. Head banging, wetting the bed and grinding your teeth are also other forms of parasomnias.

Alternatively, the paralysis or vivid images usually experienced during dreaming may persist after awakening. These occurrences are also known as parasomnias and include confusional arousals (a mixed state of being both asleep and awake), sleep paralysis and REM sleep behavior disorder (acting out dreams).

Most of these disorders, such as confusional arousals, sleep walking and night terrors, are more common in children, who tend to outgrow them once they become adults. People who are sleep deprived also may experience some of these disorders, including sleep walking and sleep paralysis.

Sleep paralysis also commonly occurs in people who have narcolepsy. Certain medications or neurological disorders appear to lead to other parasomnias, such as REM sleep behavior disorder, and these parasomnias tend to occur more in elderly people.

If you or a family member has persistent episodes of sleep paralysis, sleepwalking or acting out of dreams, speak with a physician at Ohio State’s Sleep Disorders Center. It’s important to take measures that assure the safety of children and other family members who experience partial arousals from sleep.

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