When you hear, “exploding head syndrome,” what comes to mind? It might be a terrifying thought. The name evokes scary thoughts, which is not always good. However, it is important to understand this more before jumping to any conclusions. Exploding head syndrome sounds terrifying, but it is important to understand what this condition is so you can properly receive treatment, especially when sleep apnea is involved. 

What is exploding head syndrome?

While the name, “exploding head syndrome,” might seem like that is what it does, it does not. Exploding head syndrome is actually not dangerous, but it is a sleep condition. It is a type of sleep apnea that falls under the group called, “parasomnias.” These disorders cause unwanted physical, verbal or behavioral symptoms during a person’s sleep transitions. 

The other symptoms or sleep disorders that fall into the parasomnias category include:

  • Sleepwalking.
  • Nightmares. 
  • Night terrors.
  • Sleep eating.

The exact cause of exploding head syndrome is unknown, but it may be the result of minor seizures in the temporal lobe or parts of the middle ear moving during the night. Fear, emotional stress and anxiety may also contribute to exploding head syndrome. 

What are the symptoms of exploding head syndrome?

If you are experiencing exploding head syndrome, you may hear loud noises that sound similar to explosions and crashes as you transition into deep sleep. It can also occur when you wake up in the middle of the night. Additionally, flashes of light and muscle spasms may accompany these noises. 

While the noises are not real, they do cause distress, fear and anxiety. These noise attacks can happen once or even multiple times throughout the night. However, they do typically stop when you are fully awake. 

How is it connected with sleep apnea?

For exploding head syndrome, there are no standard treatment guidelines. Some recommendations are counseling or talk therapy if stress or anxiety is involved. However, if you suffer from other sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea, treatment of that condition may signal a change. You may also notice less intense or frequent noise episodes after receiving treatment for sleep apnea. 

This is still a condition that we are learning more about, but it is important to identify sleep apnea and pursue treatment to improve the care you receive. Contact us today to learn more.