Parasomnias, what do they consist of

Parasomnias, what do they consist of

The parasomnias are clinical disorders associated with episodes or phenomena that occur at different stages of sleep, are usually common during early childhood, in the DSM-V they are classified within sleep-wake disorders, they are associated with the presence of abnormal behaviors during sleep phases, some specifically on the transitions of each phase, are usually classified according to their manifestation, which can be: upon waking up, entering sleep or during the REM phase. These sleep disorders They are usually accompanied by physiological changes such as cardiovascular or muscular activation, therefore, throughout history, they have been the object of myths.


  • 1 Types of Non-REM sleep arousal disorders
  • 2 Other 9 parasomnias
  • 3 When it is necessary to go to a professional
  • 4 Treatment of parasomnias
  • 5 9 tips to improve your sleep hygiene

Types of Non-REM sleep arousal disorders

Its about recurring episodes of incomplete awakening from sleep, They usually occur during the first third of the main sleep period, approximately two hours after falling asleep, they may be accompanied by:


The somnambulism It is characterized by events in which the patient, asleep, gets up and walks with some frequency. During such episodes, the individual usually has his eyes fixed and blank; the subjects "seem to be in a trance", as they tend to be insensitive to the efforts of other people to communicate with him, may wake up with difficulty and it is suggested that it be done with the suggested care.

Midnight resting, night owl being that appears walking, in the twilight of your soul is flying ... ”Alejandro Méndez Romero

It's more common to develop during childhood, with greater recurrence between 4 and 6-8 years of age, it usually disappears spontaneously in adolescence or youth; it is presented between one and 15% of the general population, there is a 45% chance that a child will be sleepwalking if their parent was and if they were both parents, then there is a 60% chance that your child will manifest this parasomnia

Night terrors

The night terrors or severe autonomic attacksThey are characterized by recurrent episodes of awakening abruptly with terror, usually they start with cries of panic, the person who suffers them, can present muscular rigidity, have wide eyes and very dilated pupils, as well as manifest behavioral disorder and ambulation, by what usually worries those who cohabit with them, for any injury or fall that could be caused ... They can possibly scare a person who is sleeping near the one who suffers from this parasomnia. In children, it occurs frequently, between four and twelve years of age, the estimated prevalence in childhood is 3% and slightly less than 1% among adults.

In this type of parasomnia, there is callousness related to other people's efforts to comfort the individual during episodes. Usually, the amnesia of the episodes is present, do not usually remember the dreams or the memory is minimal. They occur in the transition from one phase of the dream to another: REM (Rapid Eye Movements) to the non-REM phase.

During each episode of somnambulism or of night terror, There are signs of autonomous alertness such as sweating, mydriasis, tachycardia and tachypnea, as well as intense fear and anguish. Episodes of parasomnias can cause clinically significant discomfort or deterioration in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning, such as cognitively, especially when they persist over long periods of time.

The shortage of sleep can cause some of our systems to begin to fail, mainly the one that controls the others: the nervous system, causing in some cases thelack of emotional regulation. The immune system can also be weakened for the same reason, because during sleep, the body performs important functions. It is essential for children and adolescents to establish the necessary strategies to have a Optimum sleep hygiene, as growth hormone also secretes while sleeping; sleep favors muscle development and the burning of adipose tissue or "extra fatty" in the body, another reason to go to bed earlier in bed and "drop into the arms of Morpheus."

Sinister poetry of the dream: nightmare disorder

We have all ever had a bad dream or as we usually call them,nightmares, these fulfill a physiological function even and are not considered pathological, these distressing dreams, are frequent in childhood, usually begin between 3 and 6 years of age, but what is the difference between a nightmare and the disorder of nightmares? The clinical condition includes extremely dysphoric dreams or non gratos, usually include threats against the security or physical integrity of the subject, the patient can remember large fragments of sleep, can be oriented in time and space upon awakening, this alteration of sleep, can cause significant discomfort, deterioration in social, work, academic as well as other areas in which the subject develops. Its etiology is also due to several causes, they are associated with certain unresolved conflicts, accumulated anxiety or pain memories, among others, as in the case of victims of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), where people can experience high levels of anxiety during nightmares until they reach anguish and panic.

It must be specified if it is:

  1. Acute: when the duration of nightmares is one month or less.
  2. Subacute: the duration of the nightmare period is longer than one month but less than six months.
  3. Persistent: when the duration of nightmares is equal to or greater than six months. Gravidity can be classified by the frequency with which nightmares occur:
  4. Mild: On average, less than one event per week.
  5. Moderate: Although they do not happen daily, one or more episodes occur per week.
  6. Serious: Nightmares occur every night.

9 other parasomnias

REM behavior disorder

They are like small “awakenings” that occur during REM sleep, they can occur as repeated episodes, they are usually associated with complex motor behaviors and vocalization, these events cause significant discomfort in the patient.


In this parasomnia, the person usually speaks or verbalizes “something” when he is asleep, although sometimes he cannot be understood very well, his cause can be due to stress or inheritance: 30-50% of cases.


The person who sleeps involuntarily grinding of the teeth, this can be corrected so that there is no wear on the teeth, mainly the molar parts; The strategies proposed by cognitive behavioral therapy have been shown to be effective in modifying this behavior, thus avoiding its pernicious effects.

Nocturnal enuresis

It is characterized in that the subject has repeated emission of urine, which occurs involuntarily during the night, when they are children around the age of 5 and who due to their age should control their sphincters, it is important to pay attention because the enuretic problem can have its cause or relationship with neurological, physiological or anatomical problems. It can also be something so simple to solve, which can be modified following simple learning guidelines that a psychologist can give you, doing psychoeducation to promote sleep hygiene and even the person can be programmed at deep levels of consciousness to correct this behavior, as used within the techniques of hypnosis and suggestion.


When linked to a parasomnia, there is a sexual behavior related to sleep, it is called sexsomnia (DSM-V).

Night cramps

They have a prevalence in the high population: 15% of the population suffers from them, it is a painful sensation in muscles, which can usually be of the foot, leg, thigh and in family groups it can affect other muscles.

Boasting night capitis or periodic rhythmic movement

In these stereotyped movements different areas of the body are usually involved, it starts before sleep and is maintained during the first phases of light sleep, they are common among neonates and during the first years of life. It has been observed that It can persist over time in people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or with some kind of cognitive deficit.

REM sleep behavior disorder

The R-BD sleep behavior disorder (Rapid Eye Movements-Sleep Behavoir Disorder, also known as oneirism or motor parasomnias in REMIt is characterized by episodes of a short duration or several minutes, it is accompanied by an increase in: muscle tone, movement and vocalizations in REM sleep, usually it generates an abnormal involuntary behavior such as moving in bed, kicking and walking ... Sometimes it can involve aggressive or violent behaviors, which can cause injury to others or hurt themselves.

Sleep paralysis

Sleep paralysis is experienced by 40 to 50% of people who do not have any other sleep disorder, it is also called predormicional form or hypnagogic, They are episodes where the inability to move voluntarily in the phases of sleep, when the person starts falling asleep or when he is going to wake up ... Some say, that is "when the dead one climbs on you", Precisely because of such a representative muscular paralysis, the distressing inability to verbalize any word or in any case some cry for help, sleep paralysis, can produce so much anxiety, that it rises to panic levels, but does not imply any phenomenon paranormal, is caused by the dissociation between mechanisms that produce MOR sleep (Fast eye movements) and those that keep you awake. So, if something like this happens to you again: Don't panic! Remember that they are only brief episodes and both the paralysis and the inability to verbalize will soon pass and neither is "the late aunt who has come to pull your feet."

When it is necessary to go to a professional

The etiology of parasomnias is generally multifactorial, special attention should be paid when there is persistence for long periods of time and this causes great discomfort or dysfunction in the patient, sleep disorders can become a psychiatric or neurological condition, so it is necessary to attend to this important need of your body and your mind.

The "remission" of parasomnias can be spontaneous as the child or the person continues to develop. However, treatment should be sought when there is persistence of these episodes and especially when the child or the person is affected in any of the areas in which they develop because of these sleep disorders, since people who suffer from Parasomnias, often have the feeling of "not having had enough rest", this, over time, can produce: fatigue, as well as a decrease in the performance of some cognitive functions, Some begin to be affected in the academic, labor, it is necessary to think about taking treatment when there is lack of emotional regulation, because when these phenomena prevent the person from having a restful sleep, it is more feasible for the individual to begin to dysfunction in some area, be it their body, mind or their environment.

Treatment of parasomnias

Remember that the dream is one of the basic human needs, so that It is important to implement proper hygiene, from the early stages of life, though: It's never too late to implement the right programs to improve your sleep quality! There are the classic orthodox treatments, the clinical experience as well and various research results, show that some non-invasive techniques can also help to induce and maintain a restful sleep, without the patients being affected by the side effects of drugs to fall asleep and without generating dependencies.

What are some treatment options that may work to improve sleep quality? There are powerful programming or suggestion techniques, which can be done at the level Alpha or some deeper levels of consciousness like Beta, Gamma, Delta and Theta, Pulsed Magnetic Field Therapy, the Biofeedback, relaxation and meditation techniques, among many others. Likewise, cognitive behavioral therapy has proven to be highly effective, all of the above can help the person have better sleep hygiene.

What happens when these resources are not enough for the person to fall asleep?

It is necessary to go to the doctor, if you do not want to take traditional drugs to treat sleep with their respective side effects, you can ask your doctor for other alternatives: bioregenerative medicine, provides other options such as homotoxicology to treat some clinical sleep disorders, helping to regulate the systems that make it possible for your body to function properly.

Melatonin: sweet dreams in the arms of Morpheus

In most cases, in adults, the use of melatonin, which has proven to be effective as a sleep inducer and stabilizer, thus adjusting our biological clock naturally, so, even those travelers who suffer from jet lag Due to the mismatch of schedules, they can benefit from using it. In cases for pediatric use, melatonin may also be a good option, although you will also have to be very careful, follow only under medical advice and follow-up, as you must have your proper medical indications and contraindications, according to many criteria that take the clinicians, as well as the interaction and medication synergy.

Do you feel that your body does not rest as necessary? No matter your age, if you have had trouble falling asleep for a while and feel that this is affecting you in some way, it is good that you follow your body's call to Morpheus’s arms, you may need a sleep inducerOnly a doctor can make these recommendations, although melatonin has been shown to be effective in the treatment of various conditions such as:

  • Insomnia, even that caused by medications such as beta blockers.
  • Delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSRS)
  • Epilepsy
  • Migraines and other types of headaches or headaches
  • Chronic fatigue
  • In the case of abstinence from the use or abuse of substances, it can help to induce sleep gradually without its use, generating in the affected patient another dependence, such as benzodiazepines, which many recommend.

9 tips to improve your sleep hygiene

  1. Avoid "very heavy" meals or that require a lot of energy for digestion, at least 4 hours before going to bed.
  2. Practice the physical activity suggested by your doctor at least 5 times a week for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Consume Omega-3 and tryptophan.
  4. The consumption of melatonin under prescription and medical monitoring helps regulate sleep cycles.
  5. Avoid using screens at night near the time you go to bed, because it is highly for the brain, you can opt for some other activity such as reading in a book of pasta: your eyes and your brain will thank you!
  6. Establishes bedtime rituals, after a while of practicing them with tenacity, the programs can be installed and in the end, they can result as a sleep inducer, preparing the mind and body for rest and sleep.
  7. Try to go to bed an hour earlier than usual, it will help you add quality to your life and wake up with more energy in the morning.
  8. Practice breathing and relaxation exercises.
  9. Reduce mental interference, you may be interested: How to soften mental noises.

Is there any emotional discomfort, affliction or physical condition in you that disturbs your rest and your dreams? Do not wait any longer and seek professional help: your body, your mind and your human relationships could be diminished in the absence of it.

Related Posts

  • Dying of sleep: Fatal Family Insomnia
  • Somnambulism
  • Insomnia, nightmares and night terrors

Electronics references

Other references

  • American Psychiatric Association (2014). Guide to the DSM-5 Criteria. Washington, D.C./London, England. Publisher: Panamericana.
  • Espinar J. 1998) Alertness disorders and parasomnias of the wakefulness-sleep transition. Rev Neurol.:469-72.
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