Parasomnia refers to a group of disruptive sleep disorders, which can occur when a person is falling asleep, sleeping or when they are waking up. They often cause unwanted behaviors such as walking or talking during sleep. 

Some of the most common types of parasomnias include sleep terrors/night terrors, sleepwalking, confusional arousals (when a person is awakened from a deep sleep but is not actually awake), nightmares and sleep paralysis. This disruption to a child’s sleep can cause him or her to feel sleepy the next day.

There are several causes for parasomnias. They may be seen in certain brain disorders, or they may also be triggered by other sleep disorders such as narcolepsy, sleep apnea or various medications. They can also run in families.

Around 10 percent of Americans are affected by parasomnias. They occur in individuals of all ages, but children are typically more vulnerable due to their brain immaturity. Parasomnias usually disappear as a child matures.

Many who suffer from parasomnias get better by improving and regulating their sleeping habits. Certain medications can also help to limit symptoms of parasomnias. There are common ways to improve sleep habits, including maintaining a regular sleep schedule, following a relaxing bedtime routine, managing stress and getting enough sleep. Below is how much sleep kids should get depending on age.

  • 1 to 2 years old — 11 to 14 hours of sleep per day (including naps).
  • 3 to 5 years old — 10 to 13 hours per day (including naps)
  • 6 to 12 years old — 9 to 12 hours per day
  • 13 to 18 years old — 8 to 10 hours per day

It may be best to see or talk to a doctor if a family member experiences any abnormal sleep behaviors, especially if related to injuries or sleep disruption.

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