Last updated: April 22, 2019

What Does Parasomnia Mean?

Parasomnia is the term used to describe sleep disorders, other than sleep apnea, that are disruptive to the normal sleep cycle. The term includes any undesirable physical or sensory episode that occurs during sleep. Some examples of parasomnias are sleepwalking (somnambulism), sleep paralysis, cardiac arrhythmia, and nocturnal paroxysmal dystonia (NPD).

Depending on its type, a parasomnia may occur during either rapid eye movement (REM) or non-REM (NREM) sleep or during the transitions between sleep stages.


WorkplaceTesting Explains Parasomnia

The term parasomnia includes a range of sleep events and disorders. Parasomnias are further classified as REM sleep parasomnias and NREM parasomnias. NREM parasomnias include disorders of arousal and disorders of sleep-waking transition.

The full list of parasomnias includes episodes or disorders such as sleep paralysis, night terrors, or REM sleep behavior disorders, based on the symptoms and causes of the particular parasomnia. During an episode of parasomnia, a person may experience feelings of terror or confusion, move or interact with his or her environment, or experience fragmented sleep.

The diagnosis and treatment of parasomnias are dependent on the type of parasomnia and its underlying cause. A person who suffers from a parasomnia may experience daytime sleepiness, fatigue, or other symptoms of sleep deprivation. Physical injuries may occur to individuals who sleepwalk or experience other ambulatory parasomnias.


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