Friday, August 2, 2013

Exploding Head Syndrome

Out of the various sleep disorders that afflict people, Exploding Head Syndrome (EHS) has to sound the most dramatic.

Nocturnal Eating Syndrome (NES), Somnambulism (sleepwalking), Sexsomnia (like sleepwalking but altogether more intimate) all side like a bit of a breeze in comparison to Exploding Head Syndrome.

Fortunately the name is more ominous than the reality - people survive EHS - although those that suffer from the phenomenon report it as a very frightening experience...especially if they are unaware that the syndrome exists.

EHS usually occurs at night when first falling asleep or when falling asleep after having woken during the night. The main symptoms are an extremely loud noise or sense of explosion within the head, sometimes accompanied by flashes of light. The experience is never painful but unsurprisingly can be deeply unsettling bringing on symptoms associated with anxiety such as palpitations.

The onset of the syndrome may occur at many different ages, although it most commonly starts in middle to late age. The frequency of attacks is also variable, often with numerous episodes in succession followed by longer periods on remission, although some may experience mild attacks quite infrequently.

EHS is thought to be brought on by extreme stress and fatigue but what actually causes the sensations associate with the condition is still unknown. Given this lack of understanding, it is perhaps unsurprising that there is no known treatment for the condition.

EHS is yet another example of how far we still have to go when it comes to understanding what goes on when we're asleep.

On that note, sleep tight!

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