What are NREM sleep arousal disorders?

Updated: Oct 09, 2018
  • Author: Sufen Chiu, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: Caroly Pataki, MD  more...
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NREM sleep arousal disorders

Individuals with NREM sleep arousal disorders, according to DSM-5, report recurrent episodes of incomplete awakening from sleep usually occurring during the first few hours of sleep. During the incomplete awakening, they may sleepwalk (sleep walking type) or panic (sleep terror type). Throughout the episode, the individuals are unresponsive to others who are trying to communicate with or comfort them. Individuals do not recall the events or dreams. The episodes are usually brief (1-10 min) but can last up to an hour.

Two specialized forms of sleepwalking include sleep-related eating and sex. The individuals may even ingest inappropriate foods. In sexsomnia, which occurs more often in males, there are varying degrees of sexual activity, including masturbation, fondling, groping, and sexual intercourse. Again, the individual has no memory of these events.

These disorders occur most frequently in childhood and diminish with age. Onset in adulthood should raise suspicion for other medical causes. These disorders are often familial, with a positive family history in 80% of individuals. "Confusional arousal" disorder is included by the International Classification of Sleep Disorders, 2nd Edition as an NREM sleep arousal disorder. Night terrors is the common name for sleep terror disorder.

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