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A parasomnia describes any abnormal movements during sleep. These conditions can pose safety issues and affect your ability to get the restful sleep you need.

Examples of parasomnias include:

  • Nightmares. Nightmares may awaken you in the middle of your sleep cycle. They may also prevent you from falling back asleep.
  • Sleep terrors. Also called night terrors, during these episodes the sleeping person abruptly awakes and appears terrified. They may sleepwalk and talk.
  • Hallucinations. Some people experience vivid hallucinations as they fall asleep or wake up.
  • Sleep paralysis. During sleep paralysis, a person cannot move for a brief period while falling asleep or waking up though they are conscious. They may also experience hallucinations.
  • Sleepwalking. A sleepwalking person may appear awake and move like normal, but are not conscious. Some sleepwalking may result in other actions such as sleep eating.
  • Acting out dreams. We should be still as we sleep, but people experiencing this parasomnia may kick, talk or flail in response to their dreams.

People who are experiencing parasomnias should not be awoken as this can cause anxiety or aggression. If one of your family members is experiencing a parasomnia, gently guide them back to bed.

It is important to remember that someone experiencing a parasomnia is not in control or aware of their actions. Parasomnias are not linked with psychological behaviors, so although the things they say and do may be strange and frightening, they are not an indication of the person’s mental health. Parasomnias may also be triggered by medicines, alcohol, stress, sleep deprivation or other medical conditions. 

In many cases, parasomnias do not require treatment. However, if your parasomnia is causing daytime sleepiness, insomnia or is a safety concern, such as hitting or kicking your sleep partner, sleep eating or sleep walking outside of the house, Indiana University Health Sleep Disorders physicians are here to help you develop a personalized treatment plan for better sleep.  We work with you to determine the cause of the parasomnias and prevent them from recurring. Our physicians take the time to build a relationship with you so they can personalize treatment methods to fit your needs.

How We Can Help

How We Can Help

Parasomnia Treatment Information

Our physicians strive to help you sleep peacefully using the following services:

Parasomnia Locations & Physicians

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Parasomnia Support Services

Parasomnias can be stressful, but treatments exist to allow you to sleep peacefully. Learn more at the following websites.