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Parasomnias are a group of illnesses that appear between arousals from rapid eye movement (REM) sleep or non-rapid eye movement NREM sleep. They can be very disruptive and are often times associated with a variety of abnormal behaviors and events.

Although people suffering from these illnesses appear fully awake and aware, they remain asleep and often times have no memory they can recall during the course of the attack.

Types of Parasomnias

These types can be classified into two factions: NREM Parasomnias and REM Parasomnias.

NREM Parasomnias

These classifications occur during the non-rapid eye movement state in a person’s sleep.

Sleep Terrors

Sleep terrors are a type of arousal in which a person suddenly awakes from sleep to a frightened state. They are often associated with screaming, crying, heavy breathing and excessive sweating.

Confusional Arousals

Confusional arousals are another type of disorder which happens when a person is awakened from a deep sleep at night. A person suffering from this disorder remains seated in bed and is confused with what’s happening around.


Sleepwalking is another type of sleep illness. This occurs when a person walks around, appearing to be fully awake with both eyes open but is actually in deep sleep.

REM Parasomnias

REM Parasomnias, on the other hand, attack during rapid-eye-movement sleep.


Nightmares are intense dreams that can cause immense terror and anxiety to a person. A person can be abruptly awakened from a nightmare and is sometimes able to narrate every detail about his dream.

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD)

REM sleep behavior disorder is another type of disorder in which a person acts out violent and emotional dreams during his REM sleep. People with this illness move and twitch their limbs.

Sleep Paralysis

Sleep paralysis occurs when someone can’t move his body or limbs due to the muscles being paralyzed for a short period of time, even though he is fully awake.

What causes parasomnias?

The exact cause of parasomnias is unknown. However, it has been observed that parasomnias are usually passed by genetics. They could also be caused by an underlying sleep disorder or by other medications.

When should I consult my doctor about parasomnias?

You should consult your doctor if episodes of parasomnia happen more than usual and if they start to give you injuries. A sleep problem should not last more than a week. This could cause severe abnormalities in sleeping schedules if left untreated.

Additional resources:

NREM Parasomnias

Parasomnias are sleep disorders. They are abnormal movements that a person experiences while he sleeps. A person can also experience these in between sleep stages. Some experience them during arousal and they may involve abnormal behaviors and emotions. There are even some parasomnias that result in abnormal perceptions or dreams.… Read More »NREM Parasomnias

Night Terrors

A night terror is a partial waking from sleep. Someone experiencing night terrors usually wakes up screaming, kicking, thrashing, or mumbling. There are also some instances of night terrors that end with the person sleepwalking. Night terrors are harmless. An episode often lasts from a few seconds to a few… Read More »Night Terrors


Somnambulism – most commonly known as sleepwalking – is a sleep disorder where someone walks and executes abnormal behaviors while he is still asleep. Sleepwalking belongs to a family of sleep disorders called parasomnia. This occurs on the cycles of non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREM sleep) during deep sleep. Although… Read More »Sleepwalking


Somniloquy is the formal name for sleep talking. It is a sleep disorder where a person talks during sleep. The person affected is unaware that he or she is talking while asleep. Sleep talking may involve complicated dialogues or monologues. There are also times when a person talks in gibberish… Read More »Somniloquy


Hypnagogia or hypnogogic hallucinations are imaginary sensations. These sensations may seem very real to the person experiencing them. They often occur while a person is falling asleep. Another term for hypnagogia is sleep hallucinations. Hypnopompic is a word that describes the period when a person wakes up. Hypnagogic is a… Read More »Hypnagogia

Nightmare Disorder

Nightmares are scary dreams. They often awaken children and can make them afraid to go back to sleep. There is no way to know when a nightmare may occur; although episodes of nightmares sometimes occur after a child sees or hears something upsetting. It may be something real or imaginary.… Read More »Nightmare Disorder

REM Parasomnias

Parasomnia is a term that refers to an abnormal problem that can happen while a person sleeps. This does not include sleep apnea. Some examples of parasomnia include sleep-related sleeping disorders, sleepwalking, and sleep aggression. Nightmares and sleep paralysis are also examples of parasomnias. Parasomnias can affect a person’s sleep… Read More »REM Parasomnias

Sleep Enuresis

Sleep Enuresis is another term for bedwetting or urinary incontinence. This is a common condition in young children and is a sign of a developing bladder. According to estimates it affects 15 percent of children over the age of three. It also affects 10 percent of children over the age… Read More »Sleep Enuresis

Sleep Paralysis

Parasomnias are undesirable events that come along with sleep. A parasomnia can make sleeping uncomfortable and can result in unrefreshing sleep. Sleep paralysis is one example of a parasomnia. Sleep paralysis causes a patient to lose the ability to move his or her body while asleep. What is sleep paralysis?… Read More »Sleep Paralysis

Sleep Hallucinations

Sleep hallucinations belong to a classification of sleep disorders called parasomnias. They are vivid experiences, either sensory or visual, that occur between the state of waking up and falling asleep. These are imagined incidents that appear very realistic, causing immense fear and anxiety for the person experiencing them. Sleep hallucinations… Read More »Sleep Hallucinations