Parasomnia is a broad term used to classify a number of unusual behaviors occurring during or between different phases of sleep. There are a number of different parasomnias ranging in severity, but they can have a profound impact on emotional, mental, and sleep health. Parasomnia disproportionately impacts children, with roughly 17% of children ages three to 13 experiencing this sleep disorder. For older kids and adults 15 and older, this rate falls to between 2.9% and 4.2% of people, but the impact of parasomniac behaviors can become more dangerous, including driving cars while asleep.
While parasomnia often runs in families, it can also be triggered by trauma, substance abuse, neurological disorders, mental health conditions, and the use of sleep aids. While addressing the underlying issues that lead to parasomnia is important, what can people do in the midst of an episode or to help prevent harm before an episode occurs? The experts at Whitney Sleep Center have some guidance for those wishing to help a partner or child dealing with parasomnia.
Gently Guide Them Back to Bed
When we see someone in a distressing parasomnia episode, we may be tempted to wake them up to provide relief. This can be dangerous. The sufferer may become violent or experience involuntary movements that could harm you or themself. Instead of attempting to wake them, try speaking to them in a low, gentle voice to provide calm. If they’ve left their bed, gently guide them back and stay with them while they return to a safer sleep slate. Approaching parasomnia sufferers quietly and gently will limit their confusion and disturbance and protect you from potential outbursts.
Keep Everyone Safe
It’s important to take measures to ensure everyone’s safety when someone in the home is dealing with parasomnia or other sleep disorders. Adding railings or extra padding around beds can keep people safe from a fall. Installing window and door locks can help prevent injury to people whose parasomnia involves sleepwalking or other behaviors. Keep medications, fire arms, car keys, sharp objects locked away, and consider locks for cabinets and refrigerators as well. Installing alarms can alert parents and partners to when their loved one leaves a safe location. Make sure not to share a bed with someone suffering parasomnia until their condition has been treated.
Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
Like some other sleep disorders, arasomnia symptoms can be abated by prioritizing healthy sleep practices. Going to bed at the same time each night, limiting day time sleep and avoiding non-sleep activities in bed are important steps. Turn screens off at least thirty minutes prior to bedtime and make sure bedrooms have limited light. Help emotionally prepare children for bedtime by helping them address worries and feelings earlier in the day. Make bedtime a calming and joyful experience with relaxing stories, cuddles, and other soothing sleepy time activities.
Contact Whitney Sleep Center
Parasomnia can be scary. Partners and parents often feel helpless when their loved one is suffering from this or any sleep disorder. The good news is that parasomnia is often easy to treat. If you love someone who is suffering from parasomnia, reach out to the team at Whitney Sleep Center. We’ll evaluate their condition and guide you to the treatments that can bring more restful nights to your home. Our family-run business is dedicated to our patients’ rest, so we listen to and prioritize your concerns, answer your questions, and work with you to find solutions. Reach out to us now to get more information about parasomnia, and let’s work together to help your loved one get some sleep.