Parasomnias: Things That Go Bump in the Night
A mother is awakened in the middle of the night by aterrifying scream. She races to the room of her 3-year-old son. He is sitting up in bed with tears running down his face, his heartpounding. The more she tries to soothe him, the more agitated hebecomes. A college student walks into her parents' bedroomwhile they are sleeping and pours a glass of water into her mother'sdresser drawer.What these two situations have in common is that, in the morning,they do not remember a thing.These stories—all true—are examples of parasomnias, which are defined as unpleasant or undesirable behavioral or experiential phenomena during sleep.
Defining ParasomniaAbnormal things that can happen to people while they are sleeping are called parasomnias. Examples of parasomnias include sleepwalking andnight terrors. While they can be frightening to observe, most parasomnias areharmless and require no treatment beyond some simple safety measuresto keep people from injuring themselves during an episode.Parasomnias are more common in children than in adults because the condition most often occurs during deep sleep, which decreases as we age.