1. Choose an interesting DSM-5 parasomnia (Sleepwalking; Sleep Terrors; Nightmare Disorder; etc.) and briefly summarize a recent empirical research study that examines the disorder. What treatments are available for the disorder?
2. There is emerging research that has found that adolescents are not getting enough sleep (e.g., averaging 4-5 hours per night). What are three research-supported reasons why adolescents need to make sure they are meeting the minimum sleep requirements? Support your answer with at least one research citation.
The following articles may be helpful as you address these questions:
Fleetham, J.A., & Fleming, J.A.E. (2014). Parasomnias. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 186(8), E273-E280.
Roberts, R.E., Roberts, C.R., & Duong, H.T. (2009). Sleepless in adolescence: Prospective data on sleep deprivation, health and functioning. Journal of Adolescence, 32(5), 1045-1057. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2009.03.007
Sleep terrors, often known as night terrors, is considered a parasomnia because they are occurrences that are undesired while a person is asleep. A typical episode for sleep terrors includes screaming, flailing, and intense fear all while a person is asleep. More likely to occur in children, sleep terrors can be spotted if a person is screaming, staring wide-eyed, sweating, breathing heavily, kicking, and is unable to be awakened from there sleep. It is likely that a person would not have any memory of their sleep terror. Comparing a sleep terror to a nightmare, a person would be more able to fully awaken after a nightmare and may even be able to recall what the nightmare was about. Nightmares also are able to occur in any stage of sleep.
Sleep terrors occur during the N3 stage of sleep. This is the deepest stage of non-rapid eye movement sleep. Sleepwalking can also occur at the same time as sleep terrors. When first experiencing sleep terrors, a person needs to evaluate if they have been getting enough sleep, if they’ve had a high fever recently, if there have been any sleep interruptions, or is they feel an unusual amount of stress.
It is fairly easy to diagnose sleep terrors when going to the doctor. It usually just requires a physical exam and telling the doctor past medical history. If sleep terrors are affecting everyday life at work, school, or in relationships with other people, doctors tend to prescribe low doses of benzodiazepines or tricyclic antidepressants. This is often because sleep terrors are comorbid with other diagnoses such as depression, anxiety, and even OCD.
Treating sleep terrors is often not necessary as they occur in children and children grow out of them with time. However, with adults, physicians tend to take a medicated approach along with cognitive behavioral therapy. One case study observed physicians choosing serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or tricyclic antidepressants (TCADs). Benzodiazepines are normally not chosen due to their addictive qualities. With physicians prescribing SSRIs or TCADs the patients did not receive any signs of night terrors. Another case study showing the physician prescribing benzos showed that this patient also did not have any more night terrors and was taken off the benzos after a six-month cycle.
Sodan Turan, H., Gndz, N., Polat, A., & Tural, . (2015, June). Treatment approach to Sleep TERROR: Two case reports. Retrieved February 18, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5353201/
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