Sleep Education

American Academy of Sleep Medicine 

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Parasomnias - Diagnosis & Treatment

If you think you have a parasomnia and it is interfering with your ability to sleep, schedule an appointment with a board certified sleep medicine physician at an AASM accredited sleep disorders center.

It is important to seek medical treatment if your behaviors are dangerous to yourself or others.

REM sleep behavior disorder and sleep related eating disorder may require immediate medical attention due to risk of injury. See a board certified sleep medicine physician as soon as possible if you think you have either of these disorders.

A sleep specialist will often ask you to complete a sleep diary for two weeks. This will give the doctor clues as to what might be causing your problems. You can also rate your sleep with the Epworth Sleepiness Scale. This will help show how your sleep is affecting your daily life. The doctor will need to know your complete medical history. Make sure to tell the doctor of any past or present medications and if you have ever had any other sleep disorder.

A sleep medicine physician will try to determine if there is something else that is causing your parasomnia or making the symptoms worse, such as:

  • Another sleep disorder
  • A medical condition
  • Medication use
  • A mental health disorder
  • Substance abuse

The sleep medicine physician may want to examine your sleep using an in-lab sleep study. Also known as a polysomnogram, a sleep study charts your brain waves, heart beat and breathing as you sleep. It also looks at how your arms and legs move and records your behavior during sleep on video. This will help show if you get out of bed and do anything unusual during your sleep study.


The sleep medicine physician will recommend a treatment based on the parasomnia diagnosis. Members of the sleep team can help you manage your parasomnia using medication, behavioral therapy or lifestyle change.

If you sleepwalk or have a parasomnia that causes you to get out of bed, there are steps you can take to make your home safer:

  • Add locks or alarms on your windows and doors
  • Sleep on the ground floor
  • Clear your bedroom of things that might cause you to trip or fall

If you are diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, treatment using CPAP or an alternative treatment may improve the symptoms of related parasomnias.

You may also be instructed to follow these tips to minimize your symptoms:

  • Get a full night of sleep every night
  • Keep a regular sleep-wake schedule
  • If you use sleeping pills, use the medication as directed
  • Make adjustments to your work schedule if you are a shift worker
  • Avoid alcohol and drug use
See a board certified sleep medicine specialist at an AASM Accredited Sleep Center near you if you think you may have a parasomnia. 
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