Exploding Head Syndrome

Exploding Head Syndrome

Research & Treatments

Exploding head syndrome (EHS) is a disorder characterized by the perception of loud noises (e.g. a bomb explosion, gunshot or cymbal crash) when going to sleep or awakening. Contrary to the name, ENS is not associated with pain. However the noise attacks can elicit a great deal of fear, confusion and distress in sufferers. Reports of tachycardia and palpitations are also common. Despite the distressing nature of EHS, relatively little is known about the prevalence and underlying cause of the condition. Some scientists have estimated that EHS may affect 10% of the population. Females tend to be more at risk than males and the average age of onset is 50 years old.

There are various theories as to what might cause EHS. For instance, some scientists have speculated that EHS may be associated with minor temporal lobe seizures. Another theory is that EHS is caused by sudden shifts of middle ear components. Other possible causes include stress/anxiety, impairments in calcium signalling and brainstem neuronal dysfunction.

Because of the benign nature of EHS, many individuals do not require medical treatment. However if an individual is suffering from disturbed sleep or considerable distress as a consequence of EHS, then treatment may be necessary. Tricyclic antidepressants have been proven useful in some individuals. Calcium channel blockers may also be beneficial. Non-pharmacological strategies such as relaxation, improved sleep hygiene and counselling may also help to alleviate symptoms.

Reviewed 2016

Sources

Frese, A., Summ, O. & Evers, S. 2014. Exploding head syndrome: Six new cases and review of the literature, Cephalalgia, 1468-2982

Brian A.S. 2014. Exploding head syndrome, Sleep Medicine Reviews, 6: 489-493

 

Author: Dr. Emma Mitchell, PhD, UK – Reviewer

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More on Exploding Head Syndrome (older content) :

Exploding head syndrome is a rare and relatively undocumented parasomnia event in which the subject experiences a loud bang similar to a bomb exploding, a gun going off, a clash of cymbals or any other form of loud, indecipherable noise that seems to originate from inside the head. Contrary to the name, exploding head syndrome has no elements of pain, swelling or any other physical trait associated with it. They may be perceived as having bright flashes of light accompanying them, or result in shortness of breath, though this is likely caused by the increased heart rate of the subject after experiencing it. It most often occurs just before deep sleep, and sometimes upon coming out of deep sleep.

Attacks can increase or decrease with time, and can disappear for long stretches at a time, or entirely, of their own volition. Subjects often feel fear or distress after the incident.

People over the age of 50 are most likely to experience exploding head syndrome. Women are at a higher rate of experiencing it than men. It has been reported in people as young as 10 years old.

Exploding head syndrome is thought to be highly connected with stress and extreme fatigue in most individuals. What actually causes the sensation in individuals is still unknown, though speculation of possible sources includes minor seizures affecting the temporal lobe, or sudden shifts in middle ear components.

As exploding head syndrome is not dangerous, and does not have a drastic effect on sleep, many individuals do seek help for their symptoms. It will first be necessary to consult with a doctor regarding your sleep and medical history to ensure that what the individual is experiencing is actually exploding head syndrome and not something else. Similar experiences have been known to be brought on by certain medications or drugs.

One medication that has been used to treat exploding head syndrome is clomipramine, a tricyclic antidepressant.

If stress is causing the episodes, it is advised to either seek to clear the problem. This could include reading, yoga, relaxing music or a hot bath before bed. These steps have also demonstrated to have positive effects in achieving quality sleep in general.

If the disturbances are the result of sleep deprivation, it is recommended to institute a more balanced routine that includes a minimum of 6 hours of sleep per night. If sleep deprivation is being caused by other sleep related disorders, these should be evaluated.

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81 Replies to “Exploding Head Syndrome”

  1. Thomas Carter

    I will hear, on occasion, loud gun shots or explosions in beta state just going off to sleep or on beginning to awake. Most diturbing. I recently experienced what I thought was 5.0 earthquake. I even reported it but saw no confirmaton of the event . I was anot into the first five minutes of sleep.

    • Mike Szymanski

      Hi Thomas. I experienced EHS for the first time ever just last night. The experience was something so powerful I found myself searchimg the internet for any explanation. Last night I had three powerful explosions, almost white outs (although hard to describe), it hit hard and fast and I felt as if my head was banged into my pillow. I woke up certain that my partner also experienced the “blast”. I realized not, and fell back to sleep only to be blown up again (its hard to put into words). I woke up the second time, realized everything was okay, it was 3 AM anadd I went back to sleep. It happened again, I woke up slightly this third time, only to fall back asleep again. As I slowly awoke this morning I felt it again. Today I feel like I have been “re-set” or “electricaly re-booted”? It sounds insane but it is very real. I searched the internet until I found this site. I am a 57 year old male. I have never experienced anything like this until just last night. I hope this helps someone, thank God for the internet because the first EHS is very freaky and scary. It is all you will think about the next day.

      • Anonymous

        Personally yesterday i suffered from a massive whip sound, which strangely enough i was thinking about a whip before sleeping… Almost as if i can control the sound i hear, which could be for the better…

      • Elizabeth Scott

        I heard the loud explosion at 4:30 AM I thought something had hit my house but realized it was all in my head as I didn’t “feel” anything nor was nothing disturbed. For ten years or more I have awakened to hearing my name being yelled at me or having the EHS experience, but also I hear garbled static like a radio signal as I am in a twilight sleep state. Why I am responding to your comment is because you mentioned “electrically re-booted” last night after the big boom I saw lots of images in my head all at once and changing at great speed. It was similar to when my computer screen is on some kind of overload. I don’t feel stressed, but I am a female over 50 so I fall into that category.

    • Yolo

      Yes!!! Like I’ve had this happen to me many times, only it’s my mother’s wail inside my head!! It’s very scary because I think she’s in trouble before I fully wake up and realize it was in my head.

      • Elizabeth Weatherford

        I have been hearing loud bangs ever since I got back from the desert, I’m a vet. I thought it was PTSD, but now that I stumbled across this web site I’m totally blown away by this! I’ve finally found a name for my condition! I have been mentioning this to all my doctors, including a sleep specialist with no answers. I’m going to email my shrink at the VA so he can start researching any new treatments.

        • lorraine Murphy

          I have had these episodes for about six months. It wakes me up and is usually about four am. It sounds like trash can lids banging. I explained this to my neurologist and was looked at like I had four eyes. That was when I turned to the internet.

    • Anonymous

      I’m so glad I found this, the last 4 nights were really loud and no sleeping at all–I was certain of a brain tumor or something but ran across this when I was trying to post to ask if anyone had these symptoms

    • Bryan

      I never had this as a child, but when I was 15 I suddenly got a heart condition where my heart rate would go up to 320 bpm at random. To help protect me they put a defibrillator in my chest that would shock me when my heart went crazy. Once getting shocked for the first time ever and up until current day, I started having this Exploding Head Syndrome however for myself, the feeling is of getting shocked by a defibrillator and the sound is the sound of electricity very loud, my body convulses just like people getting shocked by the paddles, this is very annoying and in the moment scary as hell. I wish this would stop. I know not much is known about this but I feel that trauma/fear/worry definitely plays a HUGE part of this in most people.

      • Sheryl

        I don’t have a defibrillator but about 10 – 15 years ago started experiencing a loud zap, like an electrical jolt that wakes me from sleep. Sometimes it occurs while awake but these are rare, maybe 2 out of 50 times. This is the first I’ve come across anything near an explaination and [thank goodness] it’s relieving to discover I’m not alone.

  2. J

    Currently suffering from a mixture of EHS and hypnagogic jerks (and what seems to be a hypnagogic jerk only it makes me suddenly gasp like I’ve forgotten to inhale rather than a muscle twitch) every night. It’s driving me crackers! Always at the point of drifting off. Thankfully, after a few hours when I successfully manage to stay asleep, I sleep through without a problem.

  3. Lindsey

    As I was waking up, I heard a loud bomb go off in my head and my whole body began to shake ferociously. I had no control at that time. It happened quick. This is the first time I have ever experienced this and I just started a new anxiety medication 3 days ago…maybe that has something to do with it?

  4. Steve

    I had this after I was smacked across the face with a hand gun that broke my cheek bone, it didnt last long but until today I had no explanation for what was going on other then I had a bad concussion

  5. Russ

    Yep. I’ve had this all my life (I’m now 56 yrs old) but it’s gradually become less regular as I’ve aged. My sensation is like electricity surging through a chain wire fence (odd, I know). I starts quietly, increases in volume, then dissipates quickly. When I wake, I expect the rest of the house to have heard it as it’s so loud. The most common time for me to get this is about 10 minutes after sex, when I’m really relaxed and about to fall asleep.

  6. Sue

    I have the sensation of a silent explosion of light going off – sort of like the slow motion bomb scenes in movies This happens just shy of awakening and is not frequent. I believe it began when I was about 59. It scared the living daylights out of me the first time it happened but now I can mostly ignore it. No sound is ever associated with it. Just a huge bright flash of light.

    • Dr. Marsha Benshir

      Sue, you are probably experiencing an entoptic phenomenon associated with vitreal detachment. Most women will have thie occur when they are perimenopausal. You will get flashes that you only see in dim light, even if your eyes are closed. If it continues in bright light, you might have a more serious eye problem so get it checked in any case.

  7. Kelly Murphy

    I’ve had this only when I was under extreme amounts of stress. It’s loud, seems real and scary. When you wake up the noise you heard seemed real. I once heard someone scream my name and sat up thinking that someone was in the house. I was panicked. All the other times was gunshot, and doors slamming real hard. It went away when my stress went away and when I was able to get real sleep.

  8. Steven Hansen

    60 yrs. old When I was about 8 years old I tried to explain this to my mother. She took me to Stanford Sleep Research Clinic. They did tests but no answers. Now I see that others are troubled with this. By the way my mother had severe narcolepsy. She co-founded the American Narcolepsy Assoc. and later the Narcolepsy Network. I do not have Narcolepsy.

  9. Nate Dandridge

    I have had EHS my entire life more or less:i’ve witnessed it ever since i was 6yrs old. There is no fixed frequency: can happen as often as once a month or every few years. In my case it occurs during REM sleeping or when im dreaming. I will have a normal dream then suddenly the content of the dream changes and suddenly i hear a loud bang and i quickly wake up scared out of my mind!! I have had many different forms of this as well: sometimes it happens when im falling asleep too, other times i get these voilent brain zaps associated with vivid lucid dreams especially when i wake in middle of the night and cant go back to sleep for long periods of time. Brain zapa can last 40mins to an hour before fall back into a normal sleeping pattern. Brian zaps are most common and started when i was 10yrs old but have periodic epiosdes of explosions or sounds such as music, conversations,yelling or crying.

  10. Jon Turner

    I am so glad I stumbled upon this information while looking into other sleep conditions because this has been happening to me for over a year now almost once a month or more and I had no idea what was going on or if anything was wrong with me.

  11. Annie

    Just before waking this morning I heard an extremely loud bang and worryingly thought I was having some sort of brain hemorrhage. A bit alarmed I realise that all is well but quite perplexed by what had just happened. Earlier in the night (4.00am) I thought I heard my front door shut and got up to check, I have dreamt the noise of my front door slamming a few times recently. The bang though was the bizarre one for me and led me this site. It has been on my mind a bit more than normal as to how secure my front door is, so that could explain the door noises. Not an anxious or stressy person, 44 year old female, very light sleeper. Glad to find this is a somewhat common phenomenon and relived I’m not totally bonkers.

    • texas

      Interesting forum. The fact that many people experience this doesn’t put my mind at ease still, due to the fact that no one knows why it happens. I am 20 years old, and this has happened to me on 7 occasions now. Mine fits the description of a gentlemen above… it starts off quiet like electricity traveling through a fence and gets louder and louder until… POP. I have a history of neurological problems if you consider a tic disorder that, but this is really disturbing. So far it only happens on days when I am very fatigued but I am hoping it doesn’t occur more regularly. I am a student so it is very bothersome and distracting nights before classes and etc.. If anyone has more info please share!

    • Lisa

      So relieved to know this is nothing serious. My first experience was 10 years ago, only had about 1 a year. I’m 47 and have a few a week and sometimes a few a night lately. I have had a slight headache for 3 weeks, I might see a doctor just to make sure the increase head explosions and headaches aren’t related!

  12. Tammy

    Wow! I have experienced this since I was a young girl. Had no idea hat it was. Almost thought I was crazy or something. Just knowing what it is I will sleep easier now.

  13. Richard

    I’ve had this happen maybe half a dozen times. I actually enjoy the experience. The first time was like a gun shot at close range. I woke up and looked around to see that everything was okay and then laughed. I don’t know why that would be funny.

    Other times there’s been visuals. A couple of times it was thunder and lightning. Another time it was a transformer blowing. These times there’s a bright flash and then a burst of images. Is it just a coincidence that both transformers and lightning are electrical?

    The other reason I enjoy this, besides the trippy light show and apparently having a strange sense of humor, is that after they happen, I immediately fall into deep sleep. They usually occur after tossing and turning, but then after they happen I’m out like a light.

  14. Amanda

    I experienced this a lot in my teens and twenties. First time during my very stressful junior year, laying my head down on the desk for a brief nap when I got done with a test early. I felt and heard that electrical ZING through my head. After that, tended to be worst right when falling asleep while lying on my back, or if I tried to nap during the day. Either that electrical sensation or a slow whup-whup-whup like helicopter blades starting up. Other sleep paralysis accompanied this (feeling of someone sitting on the edge of the bed, etc.). I lessened the stress in my life, always fell asleep on my stomach instead of my back, and stopped taking naps and haven’t experienced it in a long time.

  15. Deb

    I’ve found that this is tied to my anti-depressants (Viibryd). It gets better if I take them early, and worse if I take them later in the day. It never happened at all before I started this particular medication. I also get sleep paralysis with it.

  16. Starr

    I just turned 20y/o this year and just recently got diagnosed with this from my doctor after having it be ignored by my mother for years, amd dismissed as nonsense. I can’t cite an age when it first started for me, but i know that ive had it as long as i can possibly remember. Like a lot of others mine seems to come and go and be pretty sporadic. I remember like a two week period when i was in highschool where it happened at least once every night, sometimes multiple times in the same night (those were always the worst, because it seemed like i would never find unbroken sleep). I’m in college now and just had an event happen last night for the first time in maybe 2 months, it’s been absent long enough to where it caught me extremely off guard and left me on edge all night.
    Its nice to know im not alone, in this, i guess.

  17. Jahan

    I am 66 years old man. I experienced EHS for the first time ever one night about 3 month ago. It was like a massive explosion in my head followed by very loud buzzing. It happened after having one of those stressful days. I thought it was only because of tiredness and so much stress I had during the day and a good night sleep would be the answer to this buzzing. I actually had a good sleep that night but when I woke up in the morning there was still buzzing in my head, not as loud as the night before. Since then I continuously have this electric like sound in my head but usually very moderate.
    With my experience, having stressful life for a long time that I myself had well over 4 years could be one of the main reason for EHS.

  18. Kathy Horner

    I have dealt with this for 8 wks every night. Can not sleep. Sometimes will not sleep but a few hours in 3 days. No Dr’s know what to do for me. I am desperate for help. I can not continue like this. Taking toll on my health. I am female,73 yrs of age. They just keep medicating me. I believe medicine caused mine. I need answers please.

    • maxi

      Tell your doctor you would like to have a sleep study done. This could tell you if you suffer from sleep apnea or another sleep disorder.

  19. maxi

    My experience started with a bad neckache along with a head cold. I was under a significant amount of stress and anxiety also. I suffer with insomnia and sleep inertia (walking up disoriented from naps so I don’t take naps anymore). I fell asleep on the couch with the fire place going. It seemed so peaceful. Was I wrong. I woke up with a huge explosion of light in my head. I said what the heck was that. I got up and felt fine except for the anxiety over the explosion. I felt normal except for the backache and was not confused. I went the next day to the ophthalmologist just to make sure I didn’t have the start of a detached retina. My eye exam was normal. My primary didn’t know what it was. I had to go on the internet and do my own research and now I know what it was “exploding head syndrome”. I am having a sleep study done to make sure I don’t have sleep apnea. This was the most frightening and craziest thing I every experienced. Glad it is a benign condition. So far it happened just the one time.

  20. Les Davinson

    I get EHS intermittently,like two huge tubular bells crashing together then a crumpling noise followed by what sounds like metal doors slamming…I told my Dr he said it might be my blood pressure
    which was a little high..not needing medication but to cut down on salt..I cut my salt to at least half and had only a very minor (one crumple) EHS attack in the last five months.

  21. Shawn

    Hello, I had my first episode last week. The shock factor was like WTF just happened. I thought it was cymbals playing for the sencond coming of Christ. Anyhow I have Bi-polar 2 and take many medications, but this had to do with a lack of sleep and stress. My day went like this fall asleep at 10pm cant sleep soundly then have to get up at 2am to pick up my boys to the airport followed by going home to bed. I was also stressed out with a medical issue that I was waiting for the diagnosis and then was falling asleep and upon waking up again and it hit. My psychologist just blew it off as nothing, but for me I’m going to focus an sleep hygiene…no i pads, cut some caffeine, exercise more and leave work in a positive mood. Being so soon since my episode last week I’m still having difficulty not thinking about it but it sounds like everyone is doing ok with EHS. Take Care

  22. Darryl

    Last night I had my first episode of this. Actually it was around 5AM. I heard an enormous explosion in my head and when I woke up I was on the floor yelling and pounding the floor with my hand. I wasn’t in pain but I had no idea what was happening. It went away immediately and I was able to go back asleep for a couple of hours but it scared the hell out of me at the time. I remembered hearing something about this condition before so I Googled it and ended up finding this page through Wikipedia. It was one of the weirdest and scariest things I’ve ever experienced. I am 46 years old, male.

  23. Lisa

    I’ve experienced EHS the first time about 5 years ago..I’m 48. I had been suffering from severe insomnia and some major stress. The first time it happened it sounded like an explosion along with a bright light. I seriously thought I had just died. When I opened my eyes and took in my surroundings I obviously wasn’t dead. I thought, what the heck just happened? I was so terrified I was afraid to go back to sleep. I never told anyone. Then it happened again, sometimes​ several times in a night, the same sound, same light. I researched it and discovered I wasn’t alone or crazy. When I talked to my doc about it he looked at me like I had 3 heads and was off my rocker. I finally talked to my husband about it. That’s when he told me he had it happen once and he described it a bit different, more of a door slam and no light. Well I was a bit relieved at that time. Then I had to go for a sleep study for apnea. So… Nervously I put on my phone paperwork in the part that asks for medical problems…Exploding head syndrome. The doc looked at me asked…How long have you had this? I excitedly replied….YOU MEAN THIS IS REAL???? Yes he said, and reassured me I was not nuts or going to die from it. He explained that very little is known or understood about it. Over the past 5 years it has happened multiple times… Recently it was 3 times​ in a row, but this wS the first time it wasn’t as loud. When it first happened though…I was scared beyond anything in my life. Thanks to all for sharing your stories…Glad to know Im not alone.

  24. Brenda

    I am 45/f. I have been experiencing this usually as I wake with increasing frequency for about 8 years. Definitely a correlation to stress level. My mother’s sister had a severe stroke 8 years ago while alone. She was well past the TPA window when I found her and I have been her advocate, caregiver, insurance wrangler, social security wrangler, pension wrangler, chauffeur, housekeeper, cook, bookkeeper, handyman, activities director, etc since (with a grand total of just shy of 6 weeks off in 8 years). In addition, I lost my mother to breast cancer 5 years ago and my father has end stage esophageal cancer now. I have no personal life, no job, no health insurance, lots of debt, and no prospects. I fully expect to inherit *nothing* from the aunt that I have been 24/7 unpaid caregiver for, for all these years. I get no support (financial or otherwise) from her, our family, or her friends aside from a room in her home and no household utility bills. I literally sell my blood plasma while she’s attending aphasia therapy groups in order to keep my mobile phone on and buy groceries for myself. In other words, I have enough stress for 10 people, there is little I can do to alleviate it as she can’t be left alone and everyone pitches a fit when I tell them that either I must be paid *something* or she needs to pay someone to stay with her while I find and then work a job. (Their objection is that she’d pay a service more than I would make at a job, but my time isn’t worth pay to them.) I feel trapped because the other option is for her to go into nursing care (which nobody wants).

    Olay, venting like mad. Point was, crazy levels of stress and EHS. Mine (as I am waking) usually seems to be filtered through whatever I might have dreamed on a given night. So I might interpret the noise as pounding at the door, a tree limb falling on the roof, or, as this morning, a heavy book dropped on the floor. Or any number of other things.

  25. SAMANTHA CATTELL

    I’ve been experiencing loud bangs such as the sound of a door slamming or a gunshot that typically wakes me up from a deep sleep. I have been on and off antidepressants and other medications for bipolar for 20 years. Currently taking gabapentin and Zoloft. It is a scary sensation and makes me feel like im losing my mind.

  26. Beatriz Zapata

    I am 37 years old and I have had about 3 to 4 episodes. The first one was about 3 years ago and extremely frightening. There was a loud bang, I envisioned a white light and even felt the bed sink below me. I could have sworn it was an actual bomb. The 2nd was pretty scary too but didnt happen until a year later. Knowing was it was it was hard to fall back asleep afraid of a second episode. Finally last night was my third time and yes very frightening but I woke up knowing exactly what it was and it was no where in comparison to my first episode. I had to drink a clonazepam to go back to sleep and I was fine. I have been on antidepressants for about 12 years now. Could it possibly be a lond term side effect? Guess we will never know unless more studies are done.

  27. Cristin

    I just had this happen to me last night. I was about to fall asleep when there was a very loud bang that sounded like someone took a hammer to the subfloor. It scared me beyond belief and I jumped up in bed asking my husband if he had heard it… of course he didn’t and told me it was probably one of the dogs. Definitely wasn’t it! I recently lost my mom about a month ago and have had problems with falling asleep. Glad to know I’m not the only one that has experienced something like this. 31/F

  28. Catdaddy

    Does anyone have the jerks with this. I’m about to fall a sleep and bang followed by my entire body jerks. Best way to explain it I guess

  29. Eric Chargois

    I have had this happen to me ever since I was young, I’m 41 now. It’s gotten worse after all of my combat deployments, I’m an Army Vet. These episodes happen randomly, but every time it does, it scares the absolute hell out of me. I’m glad I found this site, because I’ve been looking for a long time for explanations. I can relate to the flash of light, in my sleep, sometimes, not always, a loud bang or explosion sound, and what feels like pressure over my whole body. Each time it happens, my first thought is that I just died, like the world, or just my house exploded. It jolts me awake, and my heart rate is always so high after.

  30. sarah

    Im 24, and this has happened to me a handful of times. I never really mentioned it to anyonr at the risk of sounding crazy. Mental illnesses also run heavily in my family.
    The most recent episode was last week. It was the first one in about a year and a half. I went back to sleep after taking my son to school. I hear what i believe to be something striking my bedroom window, and it startles me awake. It was LOUD. I look over at my very light sleeper youngest son, and hes unbothered.
    I also often suffer from sleep paralysis weekly. I have heard things while asleep, and unable to move. Usually though, i see or feel something near me. I’ve learned that if i drink coffee or any sugar/caffiene at night or in the morninf after going back to sleep after dropping my child off is a trigger for it.
    The sleep paralysis has been going on since i was a young child, but the EHS has been going on for maybe 3 years.
    I sleep walk too. I think my body is just trying to prevent me from getting any rest.

  31. Sharon

    I have been experiencing loud bangs in my sleep and be awaken by it and asking my husband if he heard anything and he tells me no and found myself waking up and walking around after I have heard the noise it’s happened to me 3 or 4 times within the last 8 months I am 43 year old female

  32. Steve

    I have had this issue since I was a young kid, and I am a 61 year old male now. As son as I drift off to sleep, it sound like a shotgun has been fired right beside me. Happens every few months or so. There is no cure, they don’t even know what causes it. So don’t let them pump you full of drugs making everything worse.

  33. Matt

    Heard about this on the radio and immediately recognized it – had it for years, both waking and sleeping, as well as the sensation that I’ve stopped breathing and had to deliberately restart.

    But for me, it’s usually pretty painful for five to ten seconds – like a cluster headache except not clustered, rather all over my head.

    It happens so often that I can usually recognize when I’m about to have an episode – and I’ve learned to make changes to my “falling asleep” pattern that often prevents it … although, of course, I’m trying to prove a negative here. 🙂

  34. Dory Bailey

    I’ve expierenced this since the age of 15. I’m 35 now and it’s happening more and more and I’m disappointed there is not a lot of answers out there for it. Every time it happens I can see myself in my bed sleeping below me, like I’m floating above myself. Sounds crazy. I’ve never been on antidepressants or anything like them and am a very active fit adult that hits the gym 6 days a week and live a stress free life. So yeahhh. It is scary AF! ):

  35. Lili

    I’m kind of laughing to myself there is a “condition” name for this. I have had this most of my life. Mostly sounds. Last night I had a new one, which was like a camera flash in my closed eyes. It happened twice before the huge crash I heard on my third attempt to fall asleep. Doesn’t happen all the time. I have been super stressed since April 1st. But things have calmed down a bit. I wonder if EHS sounds are related to tinnitus? Anyone else have ringing ears? Or Meniere’s disease?

  36. Arvel Cardwell

    I’m 39 and this was my first episode. I awoke suddenly from what sounded like a hand gun being discharged in my house. I was startled to say the least. However, my wife, child and 2 dogs remained sound asleep. I knew it was not an external sound at the point. I then thought of Exploding head syndrome. I’ve heard of this because I listened to a podcast that dedicated an episode to this. It’s called “Stuff you should know”.
    I was a bit scared, but quickly regained myself. I did check the whole house though…lol.

  37. karen

    I started having this happen rarely after my divorce 10 yrs ago (mid 40s)…I would hear my children calling my name. Then over time especially over the last year it’ become regular. Either my house is haunted or I’m having this syndrome. Loud banging, sounds like someone crashing through the door, things crashing in the house. Last night was a first ever 2-3 times was an extremely loud vibration? It was like my phone was on vibrate and on steroids…it was coming from the walls. I awoke to check my phone; no calls, texts, alerts etc. Even those are not nearly as loud as those last night. I’m mid 50’s female; stressed from work and in need of a serious vacay. Now…just hope it’s not ghosts! LOL

  38. Natalie

    Couple nights ago I was having a awful nightmare about being dragged away by my hair I awoke to calling for help. I fell back asleep instantly only to be awoken to banging sounds above me (I live in a basement suite and the upstairs is currently vacant). The sound then stopped so I listened harder for it again and heard it again. I was so scared I grabbed my phone and was about to call the police as I thought someone broke in up there but when I listened harder I realized the sound was coming from inside my own head. I was embarrassed to even tell the story to anyone as I thought they would think I had gone crazy. I have had these types of episodes for years and have even had sleep paralysis where I believed I was being purposely held down. It’s all very scary to me and I now live alone which makes it all the worse. I honestly thought perhaps there was seriously something wrong with me. I am not 100% sure it’s EHS and was hoping someone could clarify this for me. Thank you

  39. FinallyFiguredItOut

    I went through this same exact thing and was desperately looking for answers. I felt scared, shaken and I wanted to get to the root of this. So I decided to take down some notes. On 2 occasions, I remember taking tums to get rid of indigestion and laid down to sleep. I dosed off, but tried to get up in the middle of the night. I tried opening my eyes, all to no avail. I suddenly felt an intense looming pressure in my head that only seemed to get worse with time. It was immensely jarring, and right after I kept hearing a mix of loud incoherent sounds. I felt the pressure building up in my head so much I could die. I tried calling for help, and felt like I was screaming of the top of my lungs but no sounds erupted from my lips. I felt utterly helpless. I wanted this to pass and quickly too.
    It’s like I knew this was happening and I’m trying to stop and snap out of it but I’m also paralyzed and can’t do anything just lay there and go through with it. It’s the absolute worst feeling.
    I’m also a Vegan (3 years now), and don’t keep up with the whole supplementation thing but I know it’s imperative because vegans are usually low in Vitamin B12, B complex. These are very essential for brain health.
    I also suffered a similar case of depression and anxiety back in 2013. My diet at the time mainly consisted of junk food as in chips, snacks, foods high in salt & fat basically the bad stuff. I was also a Non-vegan and in College at the time. So yeah my grades suffered greatly.
    I started with Vitamin D, and B12 supplements as per Doc orders, but did not keep up regularly which is also bad.
    So when this happened I had an inkling in the back of my mind that it’d be some kind of Vitamin deficiency. Just this past week I suffered from an episode of EHS, I went down to my Kitchen, looked for the Vit B12 1000 IU bottle, took 1 tablet and went back to sleep.
    I honestly felt much better, and haven’t suffered from any episodes of EHS yet and hoping to never!
    Even if you’re not a Vegan. You have to go see your Doctor and let them check your vitamin and mineral levels. It is very important especially during winter time for Vit D levels. The lack or excess of some can have effects on multiple systems of the body. It is very important to check in with your Doctor and follow their suggestions for better health. I realized these are some small things I can do to lead a much healthier non-EHS, non-depression, and non-anxiety life. Every day feels victorious now.
    I don’t want to ever let these things claim me again.

  40. Lenora Lenora Hill

    I have had this a couple of times in my life. However, it has become more frequent the last couple of weeks. Today, it happened 3 times during a nap. I have recently weaned off of Cymbalta, an antidepressant. I used a very slow tapering method and didn’t go cold turkey. One of the withdrawal symptoms of antidepressants is “brain zaps”. But these zaps are not the ones with bangs or noise. Would love to know if anyone else recently stopped taking antidepressants and then getting the zaps like this.

  41. peter

    After researching into this last night i have self diagnosed myself with EHS. I would really appreciate if anyone here can agree or disagree or shed some help or advice for me?

    I have had 3 in total, my first one about 3-4 weeks ago. I was fast asleep and all i can remember from my first experience was in my dream I had found a package which when i opened it turned out to be a bomb with an almighty explosion. The explosion was so loud and real it shook my face and brain and I woke up thinking I had died. I have had very real dreams before but absolutely nothing like this before.

    My second happened about 2 weeks ago and was pretty much the same as the first, but this time more familiar. I was aware of what was happening until i opened the package – it almost happened in slow motion but as soon as i opened it – i felt the explosion and felt like it was a deja vu to the first and this time I was actually dying. Both time i woke up to being absolutely petrified – the second time i was more scared as i definitely felt the explosion more in my face.

    My third happened 2 nights ago, completely different scenario to the first but the effects where both similar and more extensive. In my sleep i could feel something sharp in my mouth, I could feel a small piece of glass wedged between my teeth. As I went to touch the glass I felt what was I can only describe as a massive current of either electricity or some kind of explosive energy in my face and it vibrated in 3 or 4 very sharp and painful stages from my teeth until it reached the top of my head. This woke me up and i was totally out of breathe – sweating and petrified.

    I cannot remember in my life ever experiencing anything like this. I am a 37 year old man. I have read that sleep deprivation is main cause. I have always had sleep issues, it takes me a long time to fall asleep and if woken eve longer to fall back to sleep.

    I really would appreciate any help or advice.

    Thanks

  42. B-Complex

    I had EHS, sometimes for hours and hours before finally i could fall asleep. It was horrible. I had since i was 30ish, more then 10 years ago. I thought it was anxiety, that’s what iv read everywhere. I always did exercises for anxiety before bed. It wasnt effective….

    And then iv started to take extra strength B vitamin Complex for my hair and the EHS completely stopped in one week. Now I take it in half an hour before bed and have no episodes at all. If i forget to take it, i have 1-2 light EHS episode usually.

  43. SleepInertia

    Came across this phenomenon while doing some random research and I realized I once experienced this. It was toward the end of the spring semester (late April) when I was really stressed about all the things I had to do and have done, so I really think there is a stress related trigger to these symptoms. I experienced a simultaneous flash and loud bang like a bomb or gun was just shot right in front of my face. It surprised so much that I woke up and jerked my head back so hard I hurt my neck a little. I knew instantly that it was a hallucination of some kind because while it seemed like it was in front of me (the visual part, that is) the noise seemed like it was all around me and inside of my head and face. Also, as deafening loud as it was to me, my girlfriend and dog were still sound asleep no more than a foot from me. I think its also worth mentioning that I was dreaming at the time, but moments before I saw the flash and heard the bang, my vision in the dream started to white out like an oberexposed photo until it flashed very brightly, and the sound was drowned out by what I can only describe as a deafening soundlessness right before the bang. That was my first and only experience to date.

  44. Vicks

    I’ve had it many many times in the past, usually when I was stressed, overworked or anxious. I’ve never had hallucinations, I only used to wake up by loud explosions sound, sometime fireworks, car horns or someone calling my name. I have also had sleep paralysis with hallucinations in few occasions . I thought EHS was a common event like feeling you’re falling whilst asleep, but apparently not. Not many people have it (none of my friends/family do).
    I haven’t had EHS or sleep paralysis for a couple of years now, perhaps since I left my stressful job…

  45. Anonymous

    I get this once in a while in the form of a loud SNAP with a flash of light when I am falling asleep. Oddly enough… I kind of look forward to it. It’s impossible to explain but something about it feels good inside my head. I also have sleep paralysis and misofonia.

  46. David

    I’ve been experiencing the brain zaps while falling asleep for years. I’m not claiming to be an expert on the condition but I’ve got years of experience in dealing with them. At first I was concerned even scared. Thought something was terribly wrong but never sought counseling from a doctor. I fought them early on. Always jumping up and opening my eyes to make them stop. Now on to what I related them to and how I use them to my advantage. I’ve always been a vivid dreamer with the occasional ability to lucid dream. I won’t go into storylines in my dreams but one in particular that was reoccurring had me levitating off my bed every time I closed my eyes to try and fall asleep. At the time I didn’t realize that I was already asleep and dreaming. It was a different dream about a year later that my new girlfriend woke me up from when I realized what was happening. Now back to the brain zaps. I finally correlated the two incidents and began the process of riding it out to see where it would take me. It was difficult to say the least since the electrical zaps where powerful. With patience and practice I began to fall asleep and understand that these zaps meant I was already asleep. From that realization forward I began to control or lucid dream on a nightly basis. For those of you concerned about this condition I’ll tell you this. You are already asleep and just starting to dream when you experience this. REM sleep doesn’t always happen hours after you fall asleep and it’s not a requirement for your brain to project its subconscious. My advice is to use this signal from your brain as a tool to explore endless possibilities in the world of your subconscious. Don’t fight it or worry about it. Enjoy it. Most people don’t have a precursor that alesrts them to the possibility of being able to control a dreams course. Hope my experiences help and happy dreams.

  47. Benjamin

    I am a 25 year old male. Married but no children. Me and my wife work full time. She’s a teacher and I work in EMS. I live an active lifestyle, run, bike, lift etc. I can run a 5 min mile blah blah. Active, healthy, alcohol is minimal to none and no medication other than antacid for acid reflux. At night when I lay down for bed, I start to fall asleep. As I’m falling asleep, my head feels like it’s about to explode. Literally. My head is a kettle of hot water, and steam is rolling out of my ears. Some nights it’s like someone shot a gun off next to my ears. Sometimes it sounds like someone slamming doors. Big boom sounds. I’ve also had experiences with sleep paralysis. My wife knows nothing of it. I’m not crazy, I’m well educated and concerned from what little is known. I love the human body but damn it’s scary as crap! If I told her this she would think i am crazy. Although, she’s very understanding and I don’t want to worry her…

    • Blair

      maybe tell your wife, at least she would be able to research it and read about it. I thought I was crazy until I read other people experienced it too.

  48. Connie Craig

    I have seen an Ear, Nose and Throat dr for my symptoms. I do not have a “crystal” problem. My head is continually having the sounds like cymbals and someone beating on a metal pipe with a metal wrench. Was given steroids for 10 days, no help. I can sit and read without too much noise but when I get up and start to walk or lay down to sleep, the noise starts over again. Dr. said she does not know the cause nor the remedy but it is very annoying and nothing I do can stop the noises. It is always on the right side of my head, seems like deep inside and it can go from 1 clang to 4-5 clangs and always a boom sound after the clanging stops. I really wish I could find someone that could find the cause and remedy for this noise.

  49. Blair

    I experienced this a lot during my teenage years at home. I would be falling asleep, not asleep yet, but would hear blasts, explosions, large bangs and occasionally a voice “yelling” from downstairs and once I heard the back door slam shut (though it really didn’t, I went and checked) – and I would wake up with tachycardia and anxiety. Eventually it went away. However I just moved back home with my parents (I am 28, going to school full time and working so they are helping me out until I graduate.) I have been home about two weeks and today as I was drifting off to sleep for a nap I could have sworn I heard my dad yell from downstairs “Anybody in this house?!” I woke up and checked the driveway, he wasn’t home. Went downstairs, just me. I mean I heard it clear as day even though I was almost asleep. I’m leaving this comment because I think it’s strange that it’s happening again when I returned home to my old room and my old bed.

  50. Janet

    After being told by three doctors that said they had no idea what I had, I was watching Doc Martin on PBS explain to his patient that it was called “exploding head” and it was caused by stress or lack of sleep. It wasn’t long before the symptoms went away because I retired and the stress was gone.

  51. Sebastian

    The sound I always hear is 3 very loud knocks on a door. It sounds kind of like how a cop would knock. It’s happened to me 3 times, and each time it startles me awake.

    The first time I heard it I thought I was being robbed. The second time I thought someone was at my room
    or front door. Most recently I heard it, laughed, and went back to sleep. All 3 times I was getting much less sleep than usual for a period of around 3 days.

  52. Gayla

    So glad I found this website as soon as I started looking. I am 64 years old and had my first EHS experience two weeks ago. I was deeply asleep and dreaming when I was awakened by loud noise. I was very startled – my whole body jerked, my heartbeat very fast and shallow breathing. When I realized the sound was inside my head, I was frightened. My thought was: how can a person be startled by a sound their mind is creating? Tonight I was reading and didn’t realize I was falling asleep until the noise startled me awake. When I calmed down, I got on my computer. I am so relieved reading what others have written. I am very grateful to all of you right now.

  53. Ronald Atchison

    I am 80 years old now and have had EHS for the last 15 years. It mostly happens to me when I am dreaming and if I touch something it explodes and wakes me up with my heart beating faster. Sometimes I feel as though I get an electric shock up my arm and I wake up shouting. At first it scared me but I have got used to it and can go straight back to sleep. I now have one about once every 2 months where I used to have one three or four time a week. My doctor says it is part of the brain working overtime. I sometimes have one when I have a nap during the day as well.

  54. Cindy

    I hear lighting & last night it was like someone was blasting my window with water. I thought I was insane!!! I started to Google loud noises in my sleep & here I am. So HAPPY to know that I’m not alone. Thanks for your stories.. SMILING

  55. Dawn Kalathas

    Hi All, I have it too. Mine is a sense of explosion, like a plane crash or gas explosion. I always think I’m dead for the first split second. I have even have felt a taste of sulphur. Still happens on occasion. Think stress related

  56. One eye open

    I’ve been awake at times when it was assumed I was asleep and have heard the same noises even someone yell my name it turns out there’s a stalker screwing with me and managed to break in my house. It would seem someone is taking advantage of their money position power and resources I’m not saying what these reports stated are untrue but it can say for sure this was an unspoken quiet investigation that took an undetermined amount of time to find this truth so try to look for other possibilities that cud contribute to ur sleep privacy. U should feel safe in ur home bed and shower. I repeat I’m NOT DISMISSING this phomenon I know for a fact it occurs good luck on ur sleep ventures. Believe I also experienced the same bizarre sleep disruptions just that there were outside forces jumping on the band wagon trying to push the stresses button think calmly and rationally and the answers will come in time record these events daily and nightly secretly if need be to get those answers. GOOD LUCK.

    SINCERELY ,
    Concerned light sleeper

  57. jaiden

    i would really like some understanding of what i’m experiencing, i am a 16 year old girl and i was just trying 2 fall asleep and right before i fell asleep i heard a very loud mans voice growl in my head. it’s very creepy and unsettling and i don’t know if i’m experiencing EHS bc it’s a growl and not something else. please help

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