Exploding head syndrome may sound like something out of a science fiction movie—but in fact it’s a very real sleep disorder. People with this sleep phenomenon are prone to experiencing loud and sudden noises as they transition in and out of sleep.
Researchers at Washington State University recently published a review of existing literature on exploding head syndrome, a first step toward raising awareness and better understanding this little-known sleep phenomenon. Their analysis of the syndrome reveals a range of symptoms reported by patients:
- Noises are loud and jarring, resembling the popping sounds of firecrackers or gunshots, the slamming sound of a door closing violently, or the boom of an explosion.
- These sounds may be perceived in one or both ears.
- Sometimes the sounds of explosive head syndrome are accompanied by flashes of light.
- In some cases, people will experience mild pain in addition to the noise disruption.
- Women appear to be more likely than men to suffer from this sleep disorder.
Exploding head syndrome appears not to be linked to any serious health consequences. But that doesn’t mean it’s not disruptive to sleep and well being. These episodes can be highly disconcerting and frightening, creating anxiety about going to sleep that itself may become an obstacle to a regular routine of healthy rest.