Have you ever experienced hearing a loud explosion while you are asleep?
Then when you wake up you will start to feel anxious and nervous without any reason.
This is what we call Exploding Head Syndrome (EHS). According to the research of the US National Library of Medicine, Exploding Head Syndrome is one of the rarest parasomnias that wakes up anyone with a loud explosion or bang in their heads.
Exploding head syndrome also happens when you are about to fall asleep or you are almost awake. The thing about this kind of sleep disorder is that it is all in the head.
The loud explosion that the person is hearing came from his or her head. And it doesn’t have an exact cause why this is happening to a person. But there are different hypotheses why this is happening.
What causes EHS?
According to the website tuck.com, EHS has a similar background with sleep paralysis. It is not associated with seizures, inner ear issues or brain bleeding. It is basically a miscommunication that caused a glitch of the neurons in the brain.
This is the reason why we sometimes get to jerk up when we sleep; the miscommunication of our neurons. When we are asleep, our muscles are also put to sleep so that we won’t be able to act out our dreams.
Our auditory neurons are even put to sleep so that we won’t talk while we sleep. But there are some people who talk while they are asleep and there are some who even sleepwalks.
This is again because of the miscommunication of the neurons in our brain. And according to the American Sleep Association, the other probable cause of EHS may include stress, anxiety, and impairments in calcium signaling.
What are the symptoms of EHS?
The common symptom of EHS is the loud explosion that you hear. But there are people who experience EHS with a lightning effect with the loud explosion. This is also similar to the sudden jerking of your body or muscle twitching when you are asleep.
You will also feel a sudden increase in your heart rate. This is due to the shock factor that the loud sound gives you. It is like a very loud alarm only that it sounds like a bomb or a car crash.
You will then feel the sense of fear or distress due to the shock factor. But everything that you hear is happening inside your head.
Is EHS risky?
Since EHS is similar to sleep paralysis, people who are experiencing sleep paralysis will also likely to experience EHS. But with people who have psychiatric disorders have a slimmer chance to experience EHS. There are no exact explanations if EHS is risky to anyone.
But if you are to experience EHS more often than usual, this can lead to anxiety and physical and psychological problems. But overall EHS is not that dangerous at all. As said earlier in this article, it is caused by the miscommunication of the neurons.
And it doesn’t complicate with the other diseases that a person have for it is a benign disease.
Who is most likely are affected by it?
According to the US National Library of Medicine, EHS usually affects women in their 50s. But there are also kids at the age of 10 experience EHS. Also, according to recent studies EHS is also being experienced by college students as well.
Basically, anyone can experience EHS at least once or twice in their lives. And there is nothing to worry about because all of the happenings are inside the head of the person.
How will you prevent it from happening?
Just like any other sleep disorders or parasomnias, there are ways in order to prevent it from happening. There are some simple home remedies that you can follow if you have experienced explosive head disorder. Below are some tips for you to do to prevent EHS from happening:
Sleep on time
One thing that can help prevent you from exploding head syndrome is to get the right amount of sleep every night. Getting at least six hours of sleep can help you a long way. And sleeping early can help your entire body to have a full rest. Staying up too late may disturb your circadian rhythm. And it will eventually make it harder for you to get a healthier sleep in the future.
Stress can also be one of the factors why a person is experiencing EHS. Too much stress makes a lot of brain work. And when you constantly think about the different stressors you have, your brain tends to overwork itself.
You must have good sleep hygiene
Following good hygiene means sleeping on time and making sure that your sleeping environment is also healthy. A good night sleep will require you to have a dark room, comfortable mattress, the right temperature of your preference, and an aroma scent. A healthy sleeping environment can be considered if there are no distractions that can interfere with your sleep.
Meditation can also help prevent EHS and other sleep disorders. It has the ability to cleanse your mind so that you will be able to have a calm and peaceful sleep. Yoga can also be helpful to anyone who is suffering from different kinds of parasomnias and even psychiatric disorders. Calming the mind can also help calm the body of an individual. This is to ensure that you will be able to have the right amount of rest that you need.
Listen to a relaxing music
Just like meditation, listening to good music can help calm you down. According to sleepfoundation.com, listening to calming music also cues your muscle to relax. And once your body is already used to listening to calm and slow-tuned music, you will then have a peaceful sleep. You will be able to fall asleep faster and longer and you will be waking up less during the evenings.
Take a warm bath before going to bed
There is a tendency that our body temperature drops during the evening. Which is why taking a hot shower is recommended if you want to have a peaceful sleep. The reason why having a hot shower before sleeping is recommended is that the circadian rhythm is synced with our body temperature.
Have a healthy life
Basically, living a healthy life will not give you any troubles when it comes to sleeping and doing the other things. Your overall health will be okay if you are living a healthy life. You will no longer have to worry about experiencing the different kinds of sleep disorders as long as you are maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
How to treat the EHS if it is happening to you?
It is understandable that there are people who are suffering from different kinds of sleep disorders. Fortunately that these sleep disorders can be easily treated even without consulting your doctor.
But if these sleep disorders can no longer be controlled, then it is time for you to check with a sleep specialist.
Below are some tips for you to do in order to ooze down the recurrence of EHS:
Get enough sleep
Just like any other sleeping devices, in order for you to get a peaceful slumber is for you to get enough sleep. Sleeping at the right time can help control the episodes of any kinds of sleeping disorder. This is also to allow your brain to rest and allow itself to repair overnight. If sleep is being disturbed, the repairing for the brain cells will also be interrupted. This is why it can lead to different kinds of sleep disorders.
Learn how to meditate and control your stress
The different sleep disorders like EHS are usually an after effect of stress. If you want to control your stress, you must learn how to find peace of mind. Simple meditation exercises can really help you a lot. You can also enroll yourself in a Yoga class. The slow and fluid movements in every session are designed to calm the mind and the body.
Consult a sleep doctor
If you already tried all kinds of home remedy for EHS or other kinds of sleep disorders, you can consult a sleep doctor. The doctor will ask you different kinds of situation. One of it is how long do you often sleep at night, the usual time you go to bed and wake up, and even what are the things you do before you go to bed. Your doctor will then give you either a medication in order for your sleep disorder to stop.
Follow the medication
For the treatment doctors will prescribe you an anti-depressant medication. The common one is the Clomipramine. Sometimes Calcium Channel Blockers are prescribed depending on your situation.
Reassuring the patient that it EHS is not dangerous
EHS is not a serious condition. So there is nothing to worry about if you have one. It can be annoying but it will not bloom into something to be scared of. There are people who always treat it seriously where they go for further tests. Sometimes they even go for EEG testing, stroke, and tumor testing. These tests are a waste of time and money for EHS is just a minor and a benign condition.
What makes Exploding Head Syndrome different ?
Just like all things, they must differ from one another. Even though if they came from the same category or class. Just like the different kinds of sleeping disorders, they have their own category.
And if you are wondering what makes exploding head syndrome different. Here are the different kinds of sleep disorder categories for you to know.
Insomnia is a very common sleep disorder. There are a lot of people who are suffering from it. And there are also different kinds of insomnias. We have the Short Sleeper where the average sleeping hours of an adult is less than 6 hours.
And we have the Child Insomnia. The Child Insomnia is where a child is having trouble sleeping through the night. And they even refuse to go to bed. They even don’t want their parents to leave their bedside for they don’t want to be alone while they can’t sleep.
Hypersomnia is a category of sleep disorder where the person will always feel sleepy during inconvenient times. If you have one of the hypersomnia sleep disorders, you will most likely need to see a sleep doctor.
Narcolepsy is one of the most common Hypersomnia. It is a sleep disorder where even if you have the right amount of sleep, you will still feel tired. And you will also have sudden uncontrollable sleep attacks. And it can happen at an early age.
Sleep-Related Breathing Disorders
Sleep-Related Breathing Disorder has something to do about the difficulty of breathing of a person. There are different kinds of breathing-related disorders that anyone is experiencing. And snoring is one of the most common.
It is where you will produce a loud noise when you are asleep. Obstructive and Central Sleep Apnea are different kinds of sleep-related breathing disorder.
The obstructive sleep apnea is where your will breathing stops while you are asleep because your airway is blocked. And the central sleep apnea is also where you stop breathing. But this is already because of a problem of the brain or heart.
Circadian Rhythm Sleep-Wake Disorders
The Circadian Rhythm is responsible for the sleeping pattern of an individual. We have our own sleeping pattern to follow. This is because of the lifestyle that we have. But it is recommended to have at least 6 hours of sleep every night.
And if we don’t follow this and if we give a sudden shift in our sleeping pattern, this is where we get to experience one of the Circadian Rhythm Sleep-Wake Disorders. One of the most common Circadian Rhythm Sleep-Wake Disorder is Jet lag.
This is because you travel from one place to another with different time zones. And this confuses your body and can ruin the natural pattern of your circadian rhythm. Another one is Shift Work this is due to the work schedule that a person has.
There are times when our work shifts change from day to night or from night to day. And this can interrupt or ruin our circadian rhythm.
Sleep Movement Disorder
The Sleep Movement Disorder is where you can’t stop yourself from moving when you are asleep. Restless Legs Syndrome is one of the most common disorders that a person can have.
It is a sleep disorder where the person can’t get enough sleep because of the constant jittering of their legs. We also have the Sleep Rhythmic Movement where a person always moves when they are asleep. And this can disrupt the person that they are sleeping with.
To know more about the different kinds of Sleep Movement Disorders, follow this link:
Parasomnia is another kind of a sleep disorder that involves an involuntary movement of the body. There are a lot of sleep disorders under the category of parasomnia. All of it is involuntary movements of the body, involuntary talking, and even you randomly hear something.
One of the most common Parasomnia is Sleep Walking. It is where are person tend to get out of bed and roam around the room. And worst case scenario is to drive a car while asleep. And Exploding Head Syndrome is also under Parasomnia.
To know more about the different kinds of Sleep Movement Disorders, follow this link:
Exploding Head Syndrome is different from the other kinds of sleep disorders because you will only remain in bed. Everything that you hear is just in your mind and the only physical response to it is to wake up due to the loud bang, crash, or noise that you hear.
Most of the parasomnia sleeping disorders involve involuntary physical movements. And Exploding Head Syndrome is rare and not as dangerous as it sounds.
Everyone gets to experience a sleeping disorder at least once or twice in their lives. And this is not as dangerous as it seems. Not unless you are suffering from a psychiatric disorder or a different kind of disease that triggers this sleep disorder.
But the general treatment for all kinds of sleep disorders is to have a healthy and a peaceful sleep at night. If you are still having a hard time getting that good night sleep after 2 weeks to a month, it is time for you to see a sleep doctor. This is for you to know your condition and for you to get that good night sleep as soon as possible.
Written by: Dr.Dorion Strakovsky
Dr. Dorion Strakovsky is one of the board members of the Sleep Lab and Sleep Disorders Clinic. He is one of the doctors of the Comprehensive Sleep Disorders Center in St. Lukes Medical Center. An award winning Sleep Doctor, a writer for many online magazines and publications.