Very little is known about many of the strangest sleep disorders, such as nocturnal paralysis, sleep eating, night terrors, or sex-somnia. One of the unknown is also the exploding head syndrome, in which the person who is sleeping is suddenly awakened by a terrifying, explosive sound.
Of course, the exploding head syndrome does not involve a head that explodes. This disorder with such a creative name occurs when the one who is sleeping is suddenly awakened by a loud sound. Noises resemble an explosion and come either from the head of the listener or from the immediate vicinity, namely the head of the sleeping partner.
What causes the exploding head syndrome?
Doctors do not know what is causing this syndrome, but they know it’s not associated with any serious illness, according to the Huffington Post. Despite the strong name, this phenomenon is usually harmless. Still, it disturbs the sleep of the one who suffers from it and sometimes even the sleep of the partner because the scare level is very high.
A new study that looked into the exploding head syndrome, published in the journal of Sleep Medicine Reviews, highlights how overlooked this condition is.
At this point there is very little scientific evidence to make a statistic to establish diagnostic steps or even treatments, the study authors note.
‘Simply put, we guess that this syndrome occurs when the body is not completely shut down for sleep or it has not prepared for this condition following the steps in the right order,’ says researcher Brian Sharples, psychology professor and director of the Clinic Of Psychology at the State University of Washington, USA.
‘Instead of stopping, certain groups of neurons actually activate, and so we perceive a deafening noise. Behavioral and psychological factors come into play, and if you usually have troubled sleep, these episodes are more common,’ the same specialist adds.
Professor Brian Sharpless met and treated about 40 cases of exploding head syndrome in his study. It is believed that this disorder is associated with extreme stress and fatigue and is more common in women than men and affects them, in particular, over 50 years of age.
However, this syndrome has also been reported in children of 10 years, according to data from the US Sleep Association.
‘People are affected by these episodes that negatively affect their quality of life. For some, the exploding head syndrome leads to anxiety, poor sleep quality, tiredness, and even fear of madness,’ Professor Sharpless continues.
Unfortunately for these people, lack of knowledge in this area can lead to huge costs for physicians, especially due to a misdiagnosis.
In his report, professor Sharpless encourages additional research. Meanwhile, ‘education in this regard can be an effective treatment,’ he says.
Fear and anxiety created by loud noises can increase stress when bedtime approaches, so relaxation techniques, as well as better information, can help with this syndrome.