Parasomnia refers to a wide variety of disruptive, sleep-related events or, "disorders of arousal." These behaviors and experiences occur usually while sleeping, and most are often infrequent and mild. They may however happen often enough to become so bothersome that medical attention should be sought out. "Parasomnias are disorders characterized by abnormal behavior or physiological events occurring in association with sleep stages, or sleep-wake transitions."(DSM pg. 435)

Arousal disorders are the most common type of parasomnia. These disorders include: confusional arousals, sleepwalking, sleep terrors and nightmares. Experts believe that each is related and share some symptoms. Essentially, they occur because a person is in a mixed state of being both asleep and awake, generally coming from the deepest stage of non-dreaming sleep. The individual is awake enough to act out complex behaviors, but asleep enough not to be aware of or remember them.

Arousal disorders (parasomnia) are common in young children but may occur in adults as well. These disorders tend to run in families and might be made worse when overly tired or stressed, a high fever, or when taking certain medications.

Confusional Arousals can occur at any age. "Confusional arousals consist of confusion during and following arousals from deep sleep in the first part of the night" Stanford (1972). This disorder often occurs in infants and toddlers, but may also be seen in adults. These episodes may begin with a person crying and thrashing around in bed. The individual may appear to be awake, even confused and upset, yet resists all attempts by others to comfort them. It's also very difficult to wake someone up when they are in this s...

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