Parasomnias Treatments

Many people who suffer from parasomnias see an improvement in their symptoms simply by improving their sleep habits. Good sleep habits include keeping a regular sleep schedule, managing stress, having a relaxing bedtime routine and getting enough sleep. There are also drug therapies that are used to control symptoms.

A person should seek treatment whenever there is risk for injury to oneself or another person from the parasomnia. It is also important to seek treatment if the parasomnia disrupts your own sleep or the sleep of a bed partner or roommate, or if there is distress about the symptoms (e.g., nightmares), or if the frequency is high or escalating. An overnight sleep lab study may be needed.

The sleep medicine specialist 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 (continuous positive airway pressure) 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

Related Resources

The National Sleep Foundation offers information on sleep and parasomnias.