Parasomnia Disorders Treatment
The treatment approach for parasomnia disorders depends on whether the disorder is related to NREM or REM sleep cycles, both of which are typically secondary to an underlying sleep disorder. In order to address parasomnia behaviors, any underlying disorders such as sleep apnea or use of a medication triggering these events must be identified.
If a sleep study reveals the presence of an underlying disorder such as underlying obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and/or periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD), the treatment for the parasomnia is actually treating the sleep disorder. Parasomnias are often the result of an arousal that is triggered by a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea.
REM parasomnia behaviors are often the result of poor-quality sleep, which would again require investigation to determine the cause of not obtaining enough REM sleep. REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD), however, is an independent sleep disorder that requires a sleep study for diagnosis, but can be linked with the future development of Parkinson’s disease, Lewy Body Dementia, and/or Multiple System Atrophy. RBD is typically treated by ensuring quality of sleep is as optimal as possible, timed-release melatonin, and/or clonazepam.
NREM parasomnia behaviors include:
- sleep talking
- sleep walking
- sleep terrors
- sleep sex
- sleep eating
- confusional arousals
The initial path in both children and adults with NREM parasomnia activity is to determine the source of what is causing the person to briefly be woken in what is called stage N3 sleep. Often underlying sleep apnea and/or periodic limb movement disorder are common causes of these events.
Parasomnia disorders are often individualized, leading to varying degrees of behaviors and symptoms. Fortunately, a number of effective treatments are available depending on the parasomnia disorder and the resulting behaviors and symptoms. Working with a sleep specialist is the first step in better sleep.