(Phoenix, Arizona) October 3, 2019 – “I felt like there was a man in a brimmed hat hiding in the shadows in my room, watching me while I slept. I tried to scream but no sound would come out of my mouth. I tried to run, but my arms and legs were paralyzed! I was terrified!”

The story above might sound like a scene out of a horror movie, but it actually occurs in real life, in the bedrooms of people across the globe, on a regular basis. It’s a phenomenon known as a parasomnia, or night terrors, says sleep expert Lauri Leadley, Founder of Valley Sleep Center.

“Parasomnias can happen to anyone of any age and can be very frightening!” says Leadley.

Parasomnias are a category of sleep disorders that involve abnormal movements, behaviors, emotions, perceptions, and dreams during any stage of sleep.

The shadowy figures are not always human, they can be spiders or snakes or whatever people imagine them to be. But the shadowy figure is so frightening that people who have experienced it are often paralyzed in their bed, unable to move, unable to scream, unable to escape! People who are going through sleep terrors are difficult to wake up. They may be confused and may not even realize they were screaming.

Fortunately for most people, the shadowy figure is not real, but no matter, the experience can have a lasting impact on a person, leaving them scared for days, months, even years afterward.

Night terrors can occur in adults of any age and commonly occur in children aged 4 to 12.  They can be brought on by medications, or alcohol use, stress, or fatigue. Night terrors can be dangerous and people who experience them regularly should seek medical attention.

There are several other frightening sleep disorders that people should be aware of including:

  • Sleepwalking: Sleepwalking is another sleep disorder when the person appears to be awake and walking around, but they are asleep. They may get up and wander around, and then get confused and go back to bed. People who sleepwalk may not know that they do it.

Sleepwalking can be dangerous as well. In September, a man on vacation in Malta was hospitalized in a coma with 28 broken bones after he walked off his hotel balcony in his sleep.

  • Exploding Head Syndrome: Exploding head syndrome consists of a loud noise that you suddenly imagine just before you fall asleep. It might sound like a gunshot, or a loud bang, or a bomb exploding. Sometimes the “exploding head” is accompanied by a flash of light, muscle twitch, or a sudden stab of pain in the head. This causes people to think they are having a stroke or an aneurism.

The cause of exploding head syndrome is not known. It may be related to headaches. But exploding head syndrome usually does not involve pain, like a headache does.

Parasomnia’s are real sleep disorders and should not be taken lightly. If you are experiencing parasomnias or are being visited by shadowy figures, Leadley offers the following advice:

  1. Keep a record of the episodes of sleep walking or night terrors. Make a note of what you ate before you went to bed, what time you went to bed and anything else about your situation. Having a record of each episode can help you or a sleep specialist determine causes and treatments.
  2. Do not eat or drink alcohol 2 hours before bedtime.
  3. Talk to your doctor about taking your medications in the morning instead of before bed.
  4. Make an appointment to see a sleep specialist.

About Valley Sleep Center:

Valley Sleep Center provides complete sleep health management including sleep studies, diagnosis, and treatment of sleep disorders. They have five clinics in the Phoenix area including locations in Mesa, Chandler, Glendale, Scottsdale, and Phoenix.  Valley Sleep Center is accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. For more information, go to valleysleepcenter.com.

Wendy David, Media Relations

(480) 242-5219 (call or text) / wnkenney@gmail.com