Sleep can be a harrowing time for people who experience parasomnias. The symptoms of these disorders range from the mundane to the horrifying, and worrying about what might happen during a night of sleep can cause some people who experience parasomnias to want to avoid sleep. The three most common types of parasomnia are:
Sleepwalking—Once thought to be an acting out of dreams, sleepwalking actually takes place during deep sleep (not REM sleep, when dreams typically occur). Sleepwalkers often perform routine activities such as dressing and cleaning. Sleepwalking is quite common in children and affects approximately 1 percent of adults. Bouts of sleepwalking can be triggered by stress, anxiety, excessive alcohol, or epilepsy.
Night terrors—These severe attacks cause people, usually children, to appear to wake up and scream in fear or panic. However, these individuals are typically inconsolable, and tend to have no recollection of the event the following day.
Sleep-eating disorders—These episodes, like sleepwalking, occur during partial awakenings from deep sleep and cause individuals to eat without any knowledge of what they are doing, or any memory of what they have done.