Do You Have Exploding Head Syndrome?

In the realm of sleep disorders, the majority of the most common are known to even those who do not suffer from them. Sleep walking, night terrors and even sleep talking, are all relatively well known. Low on the totem pole as far as sleep issues goes is the phenomenon known as exploding head syndrome.
It sounds almost made up and something straight out of a cartoon, but rest assured, it’s very real and is disrupting the slep of a small number of people in just the U.S alone. Now, although it sounds like something quite painful, it’s actually not at all, if anything the name is extremely misleading.

Exploding head syndrome is a rare and relatively undocumented parasomnia event in which those who suffer from it experience a loud bang in their head similar to a bomb exploding, a gun going off, a clash of cymbals or any loud noise that seems to originate from inside the head. In the small amount of instances that have been documented, it most often occurs just before deep sleep, and sometimes upon coming out of deep sleep.

Often associated with stress and extreme fatigue, one theory for its occurrence is the lack of the body to shut down for sleep in the correct sequence. EHS, as its otherwise known, can lead to anxiety, sleep disruption, insomnia, and daytime sleepiness, if not treated properly.

Attacks can increase or decrease with time, and can disappear for long stretches at a time, or entirely, of their own volition. Subjects often feel fear or distress after the incident. It appears that women over the age of 50 are most likely to experience exploding head syndrome; women are at a higher rate of experiencing it than men, however it has been reported in people as young as 10 years old.

One speculation of possible sources and reasons behind the phenomenon includes minor seizures affecting the temporal lobe, or sudden shifts in middle ear components. Similar experiences have been known to be brought on as severe side effects by certain medications or drugs.

Due to the fact that medications are seen as a cause for EHS, remedies to help rectify it range from reading, yoga, relaxing music or a hot bath before bed. These steps have also demonstrated to have positive effects in achieving quality sleep in general. If the disturbances are the result of sleep deprivation, it is recommended to institute a more balanced routine that includes a minimum of 6 hours of sleep per night, where the brain is completely shut down in order for the body to fully rest. If sleep deprivation is being caused by other sleep related disorders, these should be evaluated by a medical professional.


Consult your primary care physician or chiropractor for any medical related advice.

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Paul Williamson

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