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Causes and Treatment of Mysterious Exploding Head Syndrome

Do You Have Exploding Head Syndrome?

It is rare, it is strange, and it is a sound in your head that is medically called "exploding head syndrome" when that crash occurs. It sounds like the name of an animated picture, a colloquial phrase, or something that you say when there is way too much going on in your head. It could be something that is found in the urban dictionary or other such website. It is most definitely alien. It is also most definitely real, according to a news piece published May 6, 2014, on the Washington State University webpage.

“It’s a provocative and understudied phenomenon,” said Brian Sharpless, a WSU assistant professor and director of the university psychology clinic who recently reviewed the scientific literature on the disorder for the journal Sleep Medicine Reviews. “I have worked with some individuals who have it seven times a night, so it can lead to bad clinical consequences as well.”

What is Exploding Head Syndrome?
This crazy thing with the crazy name is a syndrome that occurs during sleep, particularly in women over the age of 50, though it does not discriminate age and gender. It is frightening to say the least and can increase or decrease over time, attaching the psyche of its own volition. Here is what it sounds like.

  • A bomb exploding
  • A gun going off
  • A clash of cymbals
  • The roof breaking in
  • A boulder crashing into a car
  • A loud door slam
  • Sudden fireworks

Is Exploding Head Syndrome Dangerous?

Though it is extremely frightening, particularly when we are asleep, the syndrome is not physically harmful, according to the American Sleep Association. On the other hand, increased anxiety and insomnia might follow, as well as daytime drowsiness. Some may feel a dull pain and hear it in either or both ears. They could also see a flash of lighting or a bright light while the explosion occurs.

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The term “exploding head syndrome” dates to a 1988 article in Lancet, but it was described clinically as “snapping of the brain” in 1920. Silas Weir Mitchell, an American physician, wrote in 1876 of two men who experienced explosive-sounding “sensory discharges.”

What Causes Exploding Head Syndrome?

The causes are very much still a mystery but one theory claims that it may be when the body does not shut down for sleep in the correct sequence, wherein certain neurons fire up instead of leaving their excited stages. Some doctors present it as a side effect of excess stress or lack of proper sleep.

Treating Exploding Head Syndrome

  1. In terms of medication, a tricyclic antidepressant called clomipramine is often prescribed.
  2. If it is stress causing the problem, yoga, reading, a hot bath and relaxing music are prescribed.
  3. If sleep duration is the problem, 7+ hours of shut-eye are prescribed.
  4. The best treatment is just to reassure the patient that it is harmless and the brain is perfectly fine.

Remember, it might feel like your head is exploding, and most definitely sounds like it, but it is not something to worry about when you have exploding head syndrome.

For all this said in a more visually appealing manner, check out this youtube clip:



I have wondered what it is when I'm just about to fall asleep and hear a loud noise inside my head. I never talked about it with anyone until I read your topic about this condition. The sound that I hear is more like a glass bottle breaking underwater, and I also feel the pressure along with the sound.