Exploding head syndrome

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Exploding head syndrome
Classification and external resources
Specialty Sleep medicine

Exploding head syndrome is a condition in which a person perceives loud, imaginary noises or an explosive feeling when falling asleep or waking up.[1][2] In addition to noise, some people report fear and seeing flashes of light.[2][3][4] It is classified as a parasomnia in the 2005 International Classification of Sleep Disorders,[5] and is an unusual type of auditory hallucination in that it occurs in people who are not fully awake.[6] Neither the cause nor the mechanism of exploding head syndrome is known.[6] As of 2015, there had not been sufficient studies conducted to make clear statements about prevalence, nor who tends to suffer EHS.[7]

As of 2014, no clinical trials had been conducted to determine what treatments are safe and effective; a few case reports had been published describing treatment of small numbers of people (two to twelve per report) with clomipramine, flunarizine, nifedipine, topiramate, carbamazepine, Ritalin and/or simply education and reassurance.[1]

Case reports have been published at least since 1876, when Silas Weir Mitchell described "sensory discharges" in a patient.[7] The phrase "exploding head syndrome" was coined in a 1920 report by the Welsh physician and psychiatrist Robert Armstrong-Jones.[7] A detailed description of the syndrome was given by British neurologist John M. S. Pearce in 1989.[8]


  1. ^ a b Sharpless, Brian A. (December 2014). "Exploding head syndrome". Sleep Medicine Reviews 18 (6): 489–493. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2014.03.001. PMID 24703829. 
  2. ^ a b Frese, A.; Summ, O.; Evers, S. (6 June 2014). "Exploding head syndrome: Six new cases and review of the literature". Cephalalgia 34 (10): 823–827. doi:10.1177/0333102414536059. PMID 24907167. 
  3. ^ Blom, Jan Dirk (2009-12-08). A Dictionary of Hallucinations. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 9781441912237. 
  4. ^ Larner, Andrew J.; Coles, Alasdair J.; Scolding, Neil J.; Barker, Roger A. (2011-01-19). A-Z of Neurological Practice: A Guide to Clinical Neurology. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 9781848829947. 
  5. ^ Thorpy, Michael J. (2012-10-01). "Classification of Sleep Disorders". Neurotherapeutics 9 (4): 687–701. doi:10.1007/s13311-012-0145-6. ISSN 1933-7213. PMC 3480567. PMID 22976557. 
  6. ^ a b Blom JD. Auditory hallucinations. Handb Clin Neurol. 2015;129:433-55. Review. PMID 25726283
  7. ^ a b c Sharpless BA Exploding head syndrome is common in college students. J Sleep Res. 2015 Mar 13. PMID 25773787
  8. ^ Thorpy MJ, Plazzi G (2010). The Parasomnias and Other Sleep-Related Movement Disorders. Cambridge University Press. p. 231. ISBN 0-521-11157-9. Retrieved 2011-03-18. 

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