Editors: Michael J. Thorpy and Guiseppe Plazzi
Publisher: Cambridge University Press – 341 pages
Book Review by: Sonu Chandiram

This is one of very few books on the market dealing with parasomnias, and it fills a long-awaited and sough need. We found only a handful medical books on this subject, on Amazon.

Parasomnias are disorders during sleep that cause abnormal or unnatural behaviors, dreams, emotions, and physical movements including those discussed in Section 5. Some movement disorders are restless leg syndrome (RLS) wherein the sleeping person’s leg keeps on shaking; sleep-related leg cramps; sleep starts, which are sudden jerks; and sleep terrors, which may involve loud screams and even hitting objects and sleep partners; and sleep-walking.

Other parasomnias are lesser-known such as bruxism, wherein the sleeping person grinds his teeth; and several types of myoclonus, which is a brief, involuntary, irregular, temporary twitching of a muscle or group of muscles.

Forty-eight specialists in parasomnias and other sleep-related movement disorders, from all around the United States and four other countries – Canada, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom – authored the chapters of this book. We list the chapter titles below to inform you on what is covered and discussed in this work:

  1. Section I – Introduction
  2. Parasomnias: a short history
  3. Epidemiology of parasomnias
  4. Neuroimaging of parasomnias
  5. Clinical evaluation of parasomnias
  6. Video-polysomnography of parasomnias
  7. Parasomnias due to medications or substances
  8. Parasomnias due to medications and neurological disorders
  9. Trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, and parasomnias
  10. Sexsomnias
  11. Medico-legal consequences of parasomnias
  12. Section II – Disorders of Arousal
  13. Confusional arousals
  14. Sleepwalking
  15. Sleep terrors
  16. Section III – Parasomnias Usually Associated with REM Sleep
  17. REM Sleep behavior disorder
  18. Recurrent isolated sleep paralysis
  19. Nightmare disorder
  20. Section IV – Other Parasomnias
  21. Sleep-related dissociative disorder
  22. Sleep enuresis
  23. Catathrenia (sleep-related groaning
  24. Sleep-related hallucinations and exploding head syndrome
  25. Sleep-related eating disorder
  26. Section V – Sleep-related Movement Disorders and Other Variants
  27. Restless legs syndrome (RLS and periodic leg movements (PLM)
  28. Sleep starts
  29. Fragmentary myoclonus
  30. Sleep-related leg cramps
  31. Sleep-related bruxism
  32. Propriospinal myoclonus
  33. Sleep-related rhythmic movement disorder
  34. Sleep panic arousals
  35. Sleep-related epilepsy
  36. Section VI – Therapy of Parasomnias
  37. Pharmacotherapy and parasomnias
  38. Behavioral and psychiatric treatment of parasomnias
  39. Hypnotherapy and parasomnias

Investigation into the causes of various types of parasomnias (instances of sleep-related behavior) is relatively new, compared to other types of disorders involving the brain. This handy book of less than 350 pages is an important introductory contribution to that lack of knowledge, and especially insight, gained from the experience of its contributors who treat patients with such conditions. A great start, and we hope there will be an expanded second edition soon, with more research findings



Michael J. Thorpy is Director of the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center at Montefiore Medical Center, and Professor of Neurology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx in New York City.

Guiseppe Plazzi is Assistant Professor of Neurology at Universita di Bologna and Chief of the Sleep Laboratory in the Dipartimento di Scienze Neurologiche in that university in Bologna, Italy.