You sit up in bed with a racing heart. You’re gasping and screaming, kicking, and shouting incoherently with your eyes wide open and straining. Your partner tries to calm you or wake you, but you brush them away with flailing arms. You bolt out of bed and run out of the room. Usually—after just a few minutes, or maybe 30 to 40—you come back, calmed, and return to sleep. But sometimes you’re found in another part of the house, curled up in the hallway or on the couch.
What is a parasomnia? Do you talk or walk in your sleep? Move your limbs or kick your spouse? Have vivid nightmares? Raid the refrigerator? Sleepwalk?
If the answer is yes to any of these, you may have a parasomnia. “Parasomnia” is defined as any abnormal behavior (with the exception of sleep apnea) that occurs at some point during sleep — while you’re in REM or non-REM sleep or when you’re falling asleep or waking up.