Medical Definition of Exploding head syndrome

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Exploding head syndrome: an unusual form of parasomnia (type of sleep disturbance) in which a person perceives loud noises (such as a gunshot, explosion, or crash) when awakening or falling asleep. Some estimates suggest that up to 10% of the population may have experienced this phenomenon. The perception of noise is often associated with fear, racing heartbeat, palpitations, and confusion. There is no associated pain. The cause of exploding head syndrome is poorly understood.

Reviewed on 9/7/2018

REFERENCE: American Sleep Association. "Exploding Head Syndrome." Reviewed 2016.
<https://www.sleepassociation.org/patients-general-public/exploding-head-syndrome/>

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