For most of us, sleep isn’t very eventful. You doze off and wake up over and over again. Maybe you’ll have a dream or two, but otherwise, sleep is just another slice of life.
The weird part is when the body does something strange. It’s easy to bug out, especially since you’re totally unconscious. The concept of not being in control is downright freaky. So what’s the deal? Here’s a breakdown of 5 bizarre things that can happen while you sleep.
1. Sleep Talking
Sleep talking is a type of parasomnia, or a disorder of abnormal behaviors while sleeping. It’s formally called somniloquy and can show up during any stage of sleep. About 50% of children sleep talk, especially in the first 10 years of life. Only 5% of adults are affected.1
When a person sleeps talks, it rarely makes sense. Luckily, the disorder isn’t dangerous, but it can make it hard for others to rest. Imagine laying down next to someone who’s rambling nonsense!2
Sleepwalking or somnambulism is another parasomnia. This disorder often takes place during the first third or half of sleeping during slow-wave sleep. While sleepwalking, a person usually engages in strange and inappropriate behaviors.
As you can imagine, this can be pretty dangerous. Sleepwalkers might walk outside or into objects or even climb out of a window. It’s a recipe for disaster. About 17% of children and 4% of adults sleepwalk. If you have another sleep disorder, sleepwalking is likely. Alcohol, sleep deprivation, and stress can also fuel sleepwalking.3
3. Sleep Sex
The person has zero recollection of the act! Yet, sexual arousal goes on as usual. This may include vaginal lubrication, erections, or even dream orgasms. Pre-existing sleep disorders may spark sexsomnia. In some cases, medication might bring it on.6 7 8
4. Sleep Paralysis
Sleep paralysis can be terrifying. You can’t move or speak, but your mind is wide awake. It happens during hypnagogia, the transition between wakefulness and sleep.
Only 1.7% of the population experiences sleep paralysis. Risk factors include stress, fatigue, and sleep deprivation. It’s also likely if you’re prone to panic attacks or have post-traumatic stress disorder.9
5. Exploding Head Syndrome
Nothing is worse than waking up to a loud noise. It’s even worse when it was all in your head! Exploding head syndrome is the perception of intense, abrupt noises during sleep.
Talk about a scary moment. The disorder isn’t harmful, but if it happens often, sleeping can be a nightmare. About 36% of people with sleep paralysis get exploding head syndrome. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, it’s common with medication, substance use, sleep disorders, and mental health problems.10 11
Do any of these sound familiar? Work on managing stress, a major reason behind sleep disorders. Adopt healthier sleeping habits, too. A sleep specialist or behavioral therapist can guide you through the process.
|↑1||Seithikurippu Ratnas, Pandi-Perumal, Ahmed S. BaHammam, and Colin M. Shapiro. “Parasomnias.” Encyclopedia of Psychopharmacology (2015): 1210-1218.|
|↑2||Sleepwalking & Sleep Talking. American Academy of Sleep Medicine.|
|↑3||Sleepwalking & Sleep Talking. American Academy of Sleep Medicine.|
|↑4||Organ, Alexandria, and J. Paul Fedoroff. “Sexsomnia: sleep sex research and its legal implications.” Current psychiatry reports 17, no. 5 (2015): 34.|
|↑5||Sexsomnia. American Sleep Association.|
|↑6||Schenck, Carlos H. “Update on sexsomnia, sleep-related sexual seizures, and forensic implications.” NeuroQuantology 13, no. 4 (2015).|
|↑7||Andersen, Monica L., Dalva Poyares, Rosana SC Alves, Robert Skomro, and Sergio Tufik. “Sexsomnia: abnormal sexual behavior during sleep.” Brain research reviews 56, no. 2 (2007): 271-282.|
|↑8||Muza, Rexford, Madeleine Lawrence, and Panagis Drakatos. “The reality of sexsomnia.” Current opinion in pulmonary medicine 22, no. 6 (2016): 576-582.|
|↑9||Sawant, Neena S., Shubhangi R. Parkar, and Ravindra Tambe. “Isolated sleep paralysis.” Indian journal of psychiatry 47, no. 4 (2005): 238.|
|↑10||Sharpless, Brian A. “Exploding head syndrome is common in college students.” Journal of sleep research 24, no. 4 (2015): 447-449.|
|↑11||Exploding Head Syndrome – Symptoms & Risk Factors. Sleep Education. American Academy of Sleep Medicine.|