Saturday, June 2, 2012

Understanding Exploding Head Syndrome and Hypnagogic Hallucinations

Sleep is important for the normal and healthy functioning of your body. During this stage, your brain is more responsive than any other organs. In some cases, there are also unusual sleep disorders you may not fully understand. Most people think sleep apnea and insomnia are the worst, but there are more. These include other parasomnias like exploding head syndrome and hypnagogic hallucinations.
What is parasomnia?
Parasomnia is a group of disorders, which involves irregular movements, emotions, and behaviors. Some may also include excessive movement, speaking, and other gestures. Some may even experience pain. These things may happen as you are falling asleep, during sleep, or at any given point during your sleep cycle. Most sleep disorders falling under this category are dissociated sleep states, meaning limited stimulation between being awake or experiencing rapid eye movement or non rapid eye movement.
What is exploding head syndrome?
It is a rare and relatively undocumented parasomnia, in which the person experiences a loud "bang" in the head. This loud sound is similar to a bomb exploding, a clash of cymbals, or a gun going off. Contrary to the name, most people who experience this condition do not feel swelling or any other physical pain. Most people complain about the bright flashes of light they always see when opening their eyes. Some people also experience shortness of breath. It usually occurs just before they sleep or coming out of sleep.
This condition usually happens to people over the age of 50. There are also more women who experience it than men.
What are the causes of exploding head syndrome?
No one really knows the exact cause of this condition. Most experts associate it with fatigue or stress. There is also a speculation of minor seizures affecting the temporal lobe, or sudden shifts in the middle ear. Other factors that may lead you to this condition are lack of sleep, irregular eating, and excessive alcohol or drug consumption. Researchers also believe this syndrome is relevant to irregularities in the brain's stimulation system.
What are the possible treatments?
One medication you can take is clomiparamine, a tricylic antidepressant. You may also take some sleeping pills if you are experiencing sleep difficulties. You may also need to monitor your diet and improve your lifestyle to avoid other problems. Before taking any medication, consult your physician to avoid complications and side-effects.
Another unusual thing you may encounter is hypnagogic hallucinations. Most people describe it as visual, tactile, auditory and other sensory events. This may happen during sleep or when waking up. These sensory events are very vivid and may be bizarre or disturbing.
People experiencing this condition may feel like they are falling, and find themselves jerking when they wake up to avoid hitting the ground. Others may hear voices or feel submerged in the ocean.

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