Developing an Unexpected Parasomnia
Last updated: May 2023
Having narcolepsy can often go hand in hand with having parasomnias. While anyone can suffer from parasomnias, those of us with narcolepsy are much more likely to experience them compared to the general population.1
What are parasomnias?
Parasomnias are a kind of sleep disorder that involve unusual and/or undesirable physical events or experiences that disrupt our sleep. They can occur when falling asleep, during sleep, and when waking up. They include things like sleep terrors, sleepwalking, or sleep-related eating disorders. REM sleep parasomnias are common in people with type 1 narcolepsy. Many of the symptoms can overlap between the 2 conditions.1
Having lived with type 1 narcolepsy for over 18 years now, I didn’t think that anything else could surprise me with this condition. A few months ago, I was proven wrong.
How my narcolepsy symptoms developed
Unlike most people I’ve talked to with narcolepsy, excessive daytime sleepiness was one of the last symptoms that I developed. From what I can remember, my very first symptoms of narcolepsy appeared at the age of 15. It started with cataplexy, and soon after, night terrors and sleep paralysis. From what I’ve heard, this is quite unusual.
A few months ago, I developed a parasomnia that I did not see coming, and the worst thing was finding this out in the most embarrassing way.
A vacation with a friend
Last summer, a friend and I decided to take a trip to a city called Douro in Portugal. We booked a hotel, and in order to cut expenses we, of course, shared a room.
As I have been single for a few years, it was only normal that I had not shared a bed with anyone for a significant amount of time. This obviously meant that no one had been in a position to tell me about new developments in my sleep.
On the third day of our vacation, my friend was starting to annoy me quite a bit, but I kept this to myself. I knew that I was in quite a bad mood that day and it would eventually pass, so I decided to just go to sleep.
To my surprise, as soon as I woke up the next day, my friend asked me, “Are you mad at me or something?”
I didn't know that I talked in my sleep
I was somewhat taken aback by the question because I was sure that I had not revealed my annoyance with her the day before. By now my mood had improved, so I truthfully answered, "No, why do you ask?"
What she said next had me genuinely caught off guard.
"Did you know that you talk in your sleep?"
No... I did not, because I had never talked in my sleep before. As though sleeptalking wasn’t embarrassing enough, apparently my own mouth decided to betray me and tell her exactly what had been on my mind.
This new parasomnia is here to stay
I had thought (or hoped, more like) that this event was going to be a 1-time occurrence. Unfortunately, it seems as though this new parasomnia has come to stay.
Since that day, not only have other friends confirmed this, but on rare occasions, I have also somehow heard myself talking in my sleep. I still can’t be sure how frequently this happens, as I mostly continue to sleep alone, but I’m hoping that it isn’t very often.
Most of all, I desperately hope that my mouth does not betray me in my sleep again.
Did you know you can read advice and stories from other community members in our new Community Hub?