What Is Exploding Head Syndrome?

By jackie
Reviewed: dr. vanta
Article Sources Article Sources
  • 1. 'Exploding Head Syndrome.' Isra Khan. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK560817/
  • 2. 'Exploding Head Syndrome with Co-morbid Sleep Apnea.' Akbar Ali; Afroza Aftab; Arzoo Ajaz. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5397088/
  • 3. 'Associations Between Exploding Head Syndrome and Measures Of Sleep Quality and Experiences, Dissociation, and Well-being.' Dan Denis; Giulia Poerio; Sarah Derveeuw; Isabella Badini; Alice Gregory. academic.oup.com/sleep/article/42/2/zsy216/5245405
  • 4. 'Exploding Head Syndrome: Six New Cases and Review Of the Literature.' Achim Frese; Oliver Summ; Stefan Evers. journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0333102414536059?rfr/dat=cr/pub%3Dpubmed&url/ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr/id=ori%3Arid%3Acrossref.org&journalCode=cepa&
  • 5. 'Exploding Head Syndrome Is Common in College Students.' Sharpless BA. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25773787/
  • 6. 'Polysomnography: Medlineplus Medical Encyclopedia.' medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003932.htm
  • 7. 'Exploding Head Syndrome: Polysomnographic Recordings and Therapeutic Suggestions.' Charlotte Sachs; Eva Svanborg. academic.oup.com/sleep/article/14/3/263/2742828
Medical Expert Medical Expert

Although it sounds terrifying, exploding head syndrome is not a life-threatening condition. People who are affected hear a loud noise in their head when they are on the edge of deep sleep, either before drifting off or as awakening.1‘Exploding Head Syndrome.’ Isra Khan. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK560817/

Exploding head syndrome is a form of parasomnia or sleep disorder, akin to sleepwalking or night terrors. The loud noise is often described as a bomb exploding, a gun being fired, fireworks going off or cymbals crashing together. Although the condition is painless, it can leave people disorientated, anxious and struggling to sleep which can lead to extreme tiredness during the daytime.

1. Symptoms

Exploding head syndrome causes a loud, explosion-like sound to be heard when transitioning between different sleep stages. Although they're just a hallucination, these noises can seem very realistic.

Everyone experiences the condition differently with some attacks occurring just after retiring to bed while others happen two or three hours after being asleep. Attacks can happen once or multiple times during the night and can last anywhere between a couple of seconds and a few minutes. Episodes tend to happen in groupings, occurring regularly for a month or two followed by a similar period of remission.

Exploding Head Syndrome

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