Fortunately, exploding head syndrome is not as dangerous as it sounds.
But it is a real condition, and researchers are finally beginning to seriously investigate the rare and little-understood sleep disorder.
People with exploding head syndrome hear extremely loud noises — a gunshot, an explosion, a thunderclap — as they're drifting off to sleep, or as they wake up from a deep sleep.
"The sound is terrifying — super loud, like someone has broken in," Marie Raymond of Seattle told NBC News. "But when I get up to look around, nothing's amiss and everything's quiet."
Symptoms of exploding head syndrome
The symptoms of exploding head syndrome vary from person to person, but there's usually little or no physical pain associated with the condition, according to the American Sleep Association (ASA). Some people describe bright flashes of light accompanying the loud sounds. Anxiety, an increased heart rate and shortness of breath are also common after the loud noise.
"It's a provocative and understudied phenomenon," Brian Sharpless, a professor of psychology at Washington State University, said in a statement.
"I've worked with some individuals who have it seven times a night, so it can lead to bad clinical consequences as well."
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