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Parasomnias are the class of sleep disturbances caused by abnormal (or shall we say paranormal) brain activity during the cycles of night sleep. They include
Except for perhaps bruxism, the common thread running through these seemingly varied sleep disturbances is disordered or out-of-sync sleep cycling through the night. An admittedly simplistic but useful view for understanding these phenomena is that one part of the brain seems to be trying to arouse to wakefulness while another part is trying to go into deeper sleep. The result is a striking mix of behaviors - crying, walking, talking - while dazed and as difficult to arouse to consciousness as any child in deep sleep.
This idea of disordered sleep cycling is supported by the observation that these disturbances never occur before the age when the adult type sleep cycle appears at around 7 months, give or take. Support for this idea is also provided by the fact that overtiredness caused by poor or missed naps is a common precipitator of arousal disorder attacks.