Exploding Head Syndrome: A Scary Sleep Disorder For Many Young Adults

woman waking up depressed

Ever wake up with the sounds of explosions loudly going off in your head? You may be part of the growing population of people who are suffering from what is called exploding head syndrome. A startling new study found in the Journal of Sleep Medicine suggests that a whopping 1 in 5 young adults say that they experience this horrific disorder.

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Discussions surrounding this scary sleep disorder can be found dating back to the late 1800s, when Philadelphia physician Silas Weir Mitchell published his paper “On Some of the Disorders of Sleep,” in the Virginia Medical Monthly. Mitchell described the case of a patient he referred to as “Mr. V” who experienced a “sense of a pistol shot or a blow on the head.”

Around 1920, Dr. Robert Armstrong-Jones, a psychiatrist documented that several of his patients experience similar symptoms that were described as  the “terrifying nighttime snapping of the brain.”

According to Lisa Medalie, a doctor of psychology and a behavioral sleep medicine specialist at the University of Chicago, “the abnormal sensation lasts only a few seconds, but the fright from the event often causes problems returning to sleep and symptoms of insomnia.” Research suggests that this disorder is brought on by lack of sleep and stress, that both contribute to your brain’s capability to completely shutdown at bedtime.