Exploding Head Syndrome – Harmless But Disturbing

cartoon of an explosion with the word "boom!"

Do you ever hear a sudden loud noise just as you’re falling asleep or waking up, maybe accompanied by a flash of light?

But then when you check your house or ask someone else, you find no possible source of the noise?

If so, it could be that you’ve experienced exploding head syndrome (EHS). The good news is that although it can be quite scary, it’s not believed to be physically harmful.

EHS as a sleep disturbance was first documented in 1920 by the scientist Armstrong-Jones, who described it as a ‘snapping of the brain’.

Compared to some other sleep disorders, there hasn’t been so much funding for research into EHS in the years since then. Scientists are starting to understand it better though, and the importance of educating people that it’s a benign experience.

How common is exploding head syndrome and who experiences it?

In 2014, researchers in Germany reviewed multiple cases and previous research, with some interesting findings:

  • They found that the average age of onset was 54.
  • More women reported having EHS than men.
  • The average frequency of attacks was between once a day and once a week.
  • The most common symptoms were noise, fear and sudden sensations of light.

Research shows that many young people experience it

In contrast to the research in Germany, researchers at Washington State University in 2015 discovered that many young people also experience EHS.

Their research also included some other interesting findings, such as:

  • 18% of the 211 undergraduates they interviewed had experienced it in their lifetime.
  • 16.60% had experienced it more than once.
  • They didn’t find that women had it more often than men.
  • It was found in 36.89% of people who had a diagnosis of isolated sleep paralysis.
  • 2.8% had clinically significant levels of distress or reduced ability to function.

2019 research finds even higher prevalence rates

In 2019, a team of researchers again looked at how common EHS is, finding much higher prevalence rates than the previous two pieces of research:

  • Out of 199 female undergraduates, 37.19% had experienced it in their lifetime. 6.54% had it at least once a month.
  • Out of 1683 male and female adult participants in a separate study, they found a lifetime prevalence of 29.59%. And 3.89% had monthly episodes.

The team also found associations with other sleep disturbances, such as insomnia, sleep paralysis and nightmares.

2020 research sheds more light

In 2020, a fascinating study into EHS was conducted in a collaboration between the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) and psychologists in the United States and the United Kingdom.

In a survey of 6686 adults, 3286 reported that they had experienced EHS during their lives. 2954 said they had never had EHS.

Interestingly, 446 additional people reported having it, but were excluded due to the likelihood it was a different medical condition or because they reported significant pain during their episodes, which is not typically a diagnostic symptom of EHS.

Of the people who said they did have EHS, 5% said they had it several times a week. 35% had it several times a year, and 40% several times in their lifetime.

And in line with the German study, they also found that women were marginally more likely to have it than men.

It doesn’t cause physical harm

The name exploding head syndrome itself sounds very dramatic, provoking all kinds of violent images in the mind when wondering what the consequences of an episode might be!

The reality is that EHS is seen by organizations such as the American Sleep Association as benign and not associated with pain. However, it can cause a great deal of fear, anxiety and confusion, along with physical symptoms like increased heart rate.

Exploding head syndrome symptoms

There are several possible symptoms commonly reported. They can occur either when falling asleep or waking up.

1. Hearing a sudden and loud noise that isn’t real

The main symptom of EHS is hearing or feeling a loud and sudden sound. It can feel like it’s coming from inside your head, somewhere in your house, or even outside.

The type of sound varies between people, and might include:

  • The sound of an exploding bomb.
  • The sound of a gunshot.
  • A loud clash of cymbals.
  • The sound of a door slamming.
  • A rushing sound.
  • People screaming or shouting.
  • An electrical buzzing sound.
  • Any other loud sound which can’t be described exactly.

2. Seeing a flash of light

EHS is sometimes accompanied by a sensation of a flashing light. Like the noise though, there’s no actual light source causing it.

picture representing a flash of light

3. Fear and distress

Most people don’t usually report feeling pain with EHS. They may describe it as painful initially, but then reveal it’s just extremely loud.

However, the sudden noise and other symptoms can be very disturbing. So it’s not uncommon to wake up feeling scared or upset by what just happened.

In the BBC collaboration study in 2020, for example, 44.4% of participants reported feeling significant fear during episodes. Interestingly, a smaller number of 25% reported clinically significant distress.

Japanese researchers published a case study in 2021 of a woman who had repeated panic attacks that were caused by episodes of exploding head syndrome. Interestingly, they discuss their belief that EHS can be “relieved only through patient education and reassurance.”

4. Elevated heart rate and breathing

Brian Sharpless Ph.D., who has published several papers on EHS, described in his 2018 research the most common symptoms as:

  • Tachycardia
  • Fear
  • Muscle twitches
  • Respiration difficulty

Interestingly, he also found that visual phenomena were reported by 27% of people with EHS – a figure he described as “more common than expected”.

5. Accompanying sleep paralysis

As the research at Washington State University found, EHS is sometimes accompanied by sleep paralysis.

Sleep paralysis itself can also be very frightening, so it’s unsurprising that a combination of the two sleep disturbances can cause distress.

6. Worse sleep?

The 2020 study by the BBC also found interesting effects on people’s sleep in general. They found people with EHS typically took longer to fall asleep, had shorter sleep duration, and worse sleep efficiency.

However, they do note that the differences were not clinically meaningful. I’ve added it here under the symptoms as I think it was interesting that it came up in the study, but it’s not listed as a symptom in sleep disorder guidelines.

Reader EHS poll

I ran a poll of readers for three months to see how often they felt they experienced EHS.

Out of 7,752 readers who voted, a combined total of 53.5% said they experience it at least once a month. 41.9% said they experience it very rarely.

These numbers should be taken with a pinch of salt though, as I only polled readers of this article. So rather than a random sample, it’s people who were probably inspired by their experiences to look it up online.

chart showing the results of a poll about how often readers experience exploding head syndrome

Causes of exploding head syndrome

The causes of exploding head syndrome still aren’t properly understood. Several theories have been proposed:

  • A neurological condition, such as minor seizures in the temporal lobe.
  • A sudden movement in inner ear parts, such as the tympanum (the eardrum), or the tensor tympani (the muscle involved in reducing sound – e.g. the sound of chewing food).
  • Related to fear, stress or anxiety.
  • Calcium signaling impairment.

In 2010, the researchers Thorpy and Plazzi suggested that EHS might be a form of hypnic jerks, saying:

The EHS is a benign, usually self-limited, condition that is likely a sensory variant of the hypnic jerk. No testing or medications are necessary when the history is typical. Education and reassurance are the cornerstones of therapy. If the symptoms occur multiple times a night and cause insomnia, a hypnotic may be useful.

Going back to the 2020 BBC study again, they asked the participants what they believed caused their EHS. Here are the main causes reported and the percentage of people that mentioned them:

  • Something in the brain – 60.6%
  • Stress – 34.7%
  • Medication side effects – 7.2%
  • Something supernatural – 2.8%
  • Electronic equipment – 2.3%


The treatment options for EHS are limited due to the fact that it’s seen as physically harmless, and still not fully understood.

Knowing that it has a name, that you’re not alone in experiencing it, and that it’s not dangerous might be reassuring enough for many people.

However, you might like to consider the following options if you remain concerned:

1. Talk to your primary care provider

Speak to your doctor or physician if you’re concerned by your symptoms and they are causing you distress or loss of sleep.

They might check for other causes, such as headache disorders or seizures. They can also help reassure you that it’s harmless.

2. Medication

There’s isn’t a standard pharmaceutical treatment for EHS. This would be something to discuss with your doctor, who might consider a drug treatment tailored to your specific medical history and symptoms.

3. Reduce stress and anxiety

Stress and anxiety can increase the frequency and intensity of some sleep disorders. If you’re under a lot of stress and/or suffer from anxiety at night, it’s a good idea to find ways to tackle it.

Some good ways to tackle stress include exercise, walking, yoga, tai-chi, meditation, mindfulness, or simple breathing exercises in bed.

Here’s a simple breathing exercise I find calming that you could try in bed if you’re feeling anxious about sleep.

Breathe in through your nose for the count of four and then exhale through your mouth for the count of six. The exact count isn’t so important, as it will depend on your lung capacity and counting speed – do what’s comfortable for you.

What’s interesting is to make the exhale longer than the inhale, and to try to breathe in while expanding your belly rather than just your chest. Try it to see if you find it calming too.

4. Practice good sleep habits

Sleep deprivation, exhaustion, and many lifestyle choices can increase the likelihood of disturbed sleep. Try to stick to a regular sleep schedule, and practice good sleep hygiene.

5. Try not to worry about your sleep

It’s important not to become anxious about falling asleep. Try not to worry that you’ll experience another episode or that something bad will happen to you.

That might be easier said than done, but some positive self-suggestion at night can be helpful.

Prevention strategies reported by people with EHS

One final look at the results of the 2020 study reveals some interesting possible techniques to cope with EHS.

The study participants were asked what prevention strategies work for them, and how effective they thought they were.

Here are the top methods that people say helped them:

  • Using or refraining from substances, such as drinking alcohol before bed or taking sleeping pills. It’s not clear in the published study whether more people had success taking or stopping taking substances. It looks to me like drinking alcohol has a positive effect on reducing EHS, but I can’t be sure from the way the data was published!
  • Don’t lie on your back.
  • Got to bed earlier and get enough sleep.
  • Practice mindfulness techniques/relaxation exercises.
  • Get up for a short while if it happens, and then try to sleep again later.
  • Try to wake yourself up during an episode.

Your thoughts

Have you experienced exploding head syndrome? What symptoms did you have, and how did it make you feel?

Feel free to share your story and thoughts in the comments below.

1,960 thoughts on “Exploding Head Syndrome – Harmless But Disturbing”

  1. I have been waking up several times in the night with different loud noises like doors slamming, crashing sounds, and loud screaming. It has been happening for about a month now and it is almost every night. Very disturbing and it is usually during a dream. The funny thing is now I remember my dreams more vividly. At first, I thought it was my cat knocking things over but when I checked there was nothing. Nice to find out that it is mostly harmless.

  2. I woke up tonight from hearing our bedroom doorknob being turned multiple times. I thought it was my son messing around so I opened my eyes and see him laying right next to me sound asleep. I checked the house and no one is here but my family, still asleep. I have pretty bad anxiety and had an awful day yesterday so I’m guessing it was caused by anxiety and stress. Now I’m wondering if the gunshot noise I jolted awake from about a year ago wasn’t actually a gun shot. I waited for the cops to come knocking on our door while canvassing for several days after that, I truly thought it was real. I’m glad to know I’m not really hearing these things and it’s in my head, but I’m still afraid to go back to sleep.

  3. So far my symptoms seem to tell me this is what I might have. I only get episodes when I am overtired, or extremely stressed out (currently it’s the 2 research papers that I have for different classes due on the same day). When I start to fall asleep, I will sometimes hear knocking at my door. 3 knocks every time, sometimes multiple times a night. And it changes to sound like any bedroom door I am behind, the sound of distance from me changes accordingly, or moves to the wall behind my headboard. Sometimes I don’t get this at night, but it wakes me up, usually from the middle of a disturbing and vivid dream. Sometimes I think I hear the kids I nanny for screaming and laughing, but they’re usually asleep still. Or I hear a crash from the other room, I hate this one the most as sometimes it sounds like glass breaking, but others like someone fell hard enough to get hurt, or it sounds like pots and pans falling to the floor in the kitchen.

    A recent development that seemed to have started around the same time as these other happenings is palpitations, like my heart is lodged in my throat and I hear the beating in my head.

    I have also had episodes of sleep paralysis all my life, since I can remember, and I hate it even more.
    Side note: I have also always been prone to ear infections, and since my last one I sometimes get a fluttering in my left ear, like the ear drum is vibrating. It sounds like a deep quiet drum rumbling like the giant ones that are in the back of an orchestra.

  4. I’ve started waking in a panic to me hearing the sound of a branch breaking. My first time experiencing something odd like this was waking up to the sound of a coin being flicked onto my toe and instantly waking up in a panicked state because it all felt so real, the sound of the coin being flicked and the physical feeling of the coin hitting my toe in my sleep lol. I don’t know if it’s caused by my tinnitus or my anxiety but just wanted to share my experiences.

  5. I’ve had this a lot over the years, most recent was last night.
    I woke to the loud sound of what sounded like someone opening my drawer and then slamming it shut.
    It scared me so much, I woke my daughter and put her into bed with me.
    Then minutes later it sounded as if someone was rummaging around downstairs.
    I have also been suffering from sleep paralysis and nightmares with awful screaming and banging in them.
    To be quite honest, I’ve become quite petrified to go to sleep.
    I’m an ex user, have been clean for 2yrs and I’m on 10mls of methadone a day, which is what the doctor tells me is the cause of these sleep problems but trying to explain otherwise falls on deaf ears.
    So to find this has been reassuring.

  6. I’m so grateful that I now have a name to put have a face to this phenomenon. I live with two roommates and they each have their different rhythm of knocks when they approach my room. I have the downstairs bedroom so I can usually hear them coming down the stairs before they knock on my door.
    The past couple of days I’ve woken up to knocks on my door that wake me up startled with my heart racing.
    I go to answer the door… No one.
    I walk upstairs, they’re both still sleeping in bed. When they wake, I ask them if they’ve knocked on my door, what did you need? (that sort of thing) and they said No.
    It happened again the next morning… 3 knocks. It’s always 3 knocks. At first, I thought it was a paranormal situation (which I could understand and be okay with) but now that I know it’s a sleep disorder deal, that makes me feel a little bit better about the situation. 🙌

    1. I’m hearing 3 knocks at around 7 am almost every day for 2 weeks now. So weird, right! I get up thinking someone’s at my door. Nobody there.

  7. anthony bellantoni

    I just had this experience at 3 in the morning. I woke up suddenly and aggressively to a loud pop, a bright light in my face, and what felt like a splash of water to my face. So bizarre when nothing was there but freaked me out enough to keep me up for a couple of hours.

  8. I get this but it seems mild. As I’m just about to fall asleep I hear 3 knocks on the door. Always 3. Sounds so real. Other times I hear distinct voices talking, different topics each time, but short phrases. This has happened to me since I was 5 years old. I am now 42.

  9. Travis Rodriguez

    When I was a child around 9 years old the EHS started. It wasn’t until my last episode happened when I was 16 years old. It started with me hearing the Television on. So, I usually would check the TV and see that it was off but the people talking was still going on in my head. Then it would get worse. Sounded like hundreds of people talking in my head, can never make out what they were saying though. Then came the drums banging really loud. I starting seeing a bright gold ring in front of me that would get small, then large than small and large, and keep going. The sounds would get worse adding clanging crashing symbols.
    So, this combination of Loud Drums banging, clashing symbols, hundreds of people talking at once and seeing a bright ring pulsing in my view would scare me terribly. I would also shake a lot like I was cold and the room would start spinning a little causing me to get dizzy. My Dad said that my eyes would Dilate when this would happen. I hated when it happened and all these terrible sounds would not go away unless I finally fell asleep. Now my 7 year old son is starting to wake up scared, shaking, and is saying that he hears loud banging in his head and sees a “Wheel spinning” in his view…sigh I wish I could know how to make it stop for him. Hopefully it won’t last 7 years like it did for me.

  10. Such a relief to know it’s a real thing. I get woken up by rapid thumping noises like someone is hammering at the door, it’s usually 3 thuds in rapid succession & I wake up in fear & have palpitations. I used to check if there was somebody at the door but over the years I have become used to it. I also have them during the day, though not as often as at night. I do have a rare neurological condition & have recently been diagnosed with a long standing anxiety disorder. So this EHS could fit in nicely with either of those or not even be connected. I will certainly be mentioning it at my next appointment.

  11. My husband is very upset. As he is getting ready for bed, he hears construction noises, like hammering or riveting. He tells me to come in whatever room he is in and I can’t hear anything he is describing. It is so bad that he called the neighbor at midnight and told him to stop hammering so late. It has caused a major issue between our families, as you can imagine. He swears he hears it all night, even with earplugs and trying to sleep with medications. This has been happening every night for more than a month. Could this be EHS? It is affecting his ability to sleep at night.

  12. I had this happen twice now, only mine is a really loud short burst of a scream that wakes me up. Didn’t start till this year. I’m 35 and I use a cpap machine so I know it’s not me since I can’t open my mouth. When I wake up and ask, no one else ever heard anything. Glad to know I’m not crazy. Think I’ll head back to bed now.

    1. Really glad to hear that this is a ‘thing’ & I’m not going mad! I get jolted awake by somebody shouting in my ear, it’s only happened a handful of times, last one being last night – what’s really weird is that it’s a woman’s voice in my right ear & a mans voice in my left…

  13. I have this. It happened just this morning. I heard two knocks that awoke me. Then, after I used the restroom and went back to bed, just as I was about to doze off, it happened again. I just went right back to sleep. It doesn’t shock me anymore. It’s been happening to me since about 1993, when I was 38 years old. The first time, it was the sou d of a telephone ringing. It took me a while to wake up and answer the phone. No one was there. I thought I’d missed the call. I figured it must have been an emergency of some sort since it was the middle of the night. I checked the caller ID, and it showed no call at all. This all kind of freaked me out! I asked my son if he’d heard the phone the previous night and he said “No”. So, I stayed freaked out, a little. But, brushed it aside. Then, a few weeks later it happened again! That’s when I realized it had to be some kind of sleep phenomenon. Then, it switched to door knocks. The first time that happened, I ran to the front door, and no one was there! Again, that freaked me out, because it was the sound of knocking! So, now it’s been 27 years of this! It isn’t frequent, and now, when it happens, I know what it is. Still…it’s nice to have confirmation that it is a benign “brain thing”!

  14. Last night I woke from a deep sleep at 3.45 am from 4 loud knocks on my bedroom door. Scared the bejeezus out of me. Thought someone was inside the house. When I realised it was just me hearing things, it still took me a long time to get back to sleep. I’m an insomniac and a very light sleeper. Also have high blood pressure and strokes are in my family. I’m also a headache and migraine sufferer. I have had this happen to me a number of times before, including when in deep sleep and just after falling asleep.

  15. Hi. So my case comes with underlying conditions. I’m desperate for help. It’s gotten much worse as the year has progressed.
    So. I’m 34, diagnosed with ADHD3/4 yrs ago, depression, anxiety… So big 3.
    Headaches started around the same time, got gradually worse to 5day migraines.
    Exploding Head Syndrome started this year. I always had the hypnic jerk thingy, but only if I was lying on my back.
    The explosions started as kind of bangs, like someone slamming a door. They changed over time to the sound and flash of lighting but all this in my head and before I can even fall asleep.

    Now it feels like I’m being electrocuted, sometimes it’s while I’m sitting in front of the computer at work or sitting talking to someone, focus on a point for a while, kind of seizures or spasms. Going to bed those nights I already know what to expect and I dread it. Those are the nights I hope to fall asleep as soon as I hit the pillow.
    It’s painful.

    If anyone has any advice that works. Knows of a study?

    1. Jet, I too have been hearing knocks on my bedroom door. At night, in the morning, or while I’m just in my room with the door closed, no one home with me. I hear conversations every morning on the other side of my bedroom door while I’m lying in bed awake. I hear crashes in my living room. I hear people calling my name or asking me “are you in there?”. Sometimes I feel my bed shake, not a lot, but enough to scare the sh*t out of me. All of this is making me feel like I have a mental problem. It’s a terrible way to live. I’m just looking for others with the same things happening. I’ve never felt this alone :(

  16. Mine was like am actual explosion with a flash of brilliant white lights.
    First time it happened I was scared shook up not knowing what had happened inside my head or if it was outside my head.
    2nd time I knew it was from inside my head because I could feel the effect all over my skull and it hurt my ears.
    hope that helps

  17. With many others here glad to know That there wasn’t an attempt to a break in on my home. I passed out on the couch near my back door “Basement room”, woke up to my door being jiggled and an attempted banging to open with the door while it was still locked. And I laid in fear for a few minutes deciding if it was real or not then Getting up seeing my gf who is a light sleeper still sleeping. and then I even checked outside nothing at all and it wasn’t even windy. So this all had me panicking and wondering what was going on until I found this form. Thank you all!!!

  18. Adreanna M Alzubi

    I know I’m not tripping. I’m 29 and it’s been two times that I wake up to the sound of someone trying to get in, but when I check it’s no one. and no one else seems to have heard what I heard. This is helpful knowing that there are other people hearing things, but I also recently decided my life more into God I’m hoping this isn’t a spiritual battle.

  19. It only happens to me about every 6 months. The first couple of times , it was a loud bang right after I fell asleep. I thought it was a goast because my dog would bark. This last time I only heard knocking on the door but my dog didnt bark so I knew it wasn’t real (she barks at the wind). It wakes me so abruptly that I’m unable to fall back asleep for hrs.

    1. I’ve had similar experiences over the years. I begin to fall asleep and then I hear a door slam. It’s loud. Disturbing.

  20. I’m 45, and I get woken up by knocks, or doors slamming, I am a sober person. my spouse works out of town for 3 to 6 weeks at a time, so I’m home alone a lot. it’s terrifying. At first, I thought this was something paranormal, and I’m beyond grateful that it is not! I use to watch scary movies and now I’ve stopped because I am so afraid, but I do find comfort knowing that this is a common thing and that there are other people out there that are tormented by this.

  21. I was beginning to drift off in bed tonight when I heard a gunshot coupled with a white explosive light. My first thought was my gun in my closet went off. Nope. I checked everyone’s rooms to see if they’d woken up. Nope. Walked around the house, thoroughly confused that I was the only one who heard it. These past couple of years I have experienced random bouts with internal tremors that suddenly appeared. I’ve had a total of about 6 of those, but not for many months now. As anyone else experienced both of these oddities? I’m 66 years old and have no health problems, nor do I take any meds except low dose of zoloft.

  22. I am glad to hear about this syndrome. My husband died tragically 11 years ago. Before he died I awoke lots of mornings around 4 am. Would get up to go to washroom and he was up getting ready for work. We would say goodbye I would tell him to be careful. Then go back to bed. This morning I didn’t. Since then a lot of mornings I wake up around 4 am. It was more frequent just after then it is now. But still happens. I also hear the doorbell ring, loud noises, dogs barking, they seem to wake me out of a deep sleep, last night the bark was so close to me, right behind my head. I knew it was not my dog that was laying by my feet but I still told him to be quiet.

  23. For about ten years, (starting 50-55 years old) About once I month I wake out of a sound sleep With either 3 loud Knocks or slamming of a door. My heart does pound!!! At first I would get up, check it out (scary because I live alone). It happened at my son’s house last weekend and he said there was a SYNDROME! I have high blood pressure with history of strokes in my family. It was so reassuring to read this! Thank you

    1. I had these knocking noises in my bedroom on my door and wardrobes. They sound so real and loud. They usually happens when i think when i have light sleep. I have insomnia. They happen every few months more or less. Then I can’t sleep. And takes a long time to forget about. I think it’s a bad ghost who wants to upset me. That is so scary to me. I can’t sleep for many nights.

  24. I have experienced a very loud noise like a door slam just prior to falling to sleep. I read the articles above and can relate to the remarks to hearing disorder, movement of the eardrum, etc. I have woke up in the night a few years back with Virgo so bad I fell into the wall when I tried to sit-up on the bedside. I now wear hearing aids and have lost maybe 90 % of hearing in my left ear. ( have to use a Cross-over Bluetooth aid in the left ear. I get very dizzy if I look up while laying flat on my back.
    Inner-Ear components movement makes sense to me.

  25. Yes I have been having this like 10 times an hour for the last few months…

    I get dizzy with a sudden almost numbing feeling in my whole head. And I hear a noise similar to the sound in the game counter strike after you get hit with a flash bang grenade. And my Vision kind of does that same thing too. And it’s happening about every 5 minutes or so.
    Not sure if this is the same thing this article is talking about. Do you have any insights for this?

    1. Hi Dylan
      If this is happening during the daytime, it’s not likely to be this sleep disorder. I would get your doctor to check you out.

    2. You might want to see a specialist, a neurologist or a ear specialist. The number of times you are getting this on the daily is a lot. Do you know if you’ve passed out? Get that checked out. Talk to your family doctor for a specialist referral.

    3. That is when it happens to me, as I am falling asleep a loud knock, it has happened 5 or 6 times in the last 2and a half months. I think that it is our brain trying to tell us something, like breathe or take a deeper breath something.

    1. I had this about a week before my birthday, I was thinking about something that happened a year ago, I’m not sure if that caused this, but when it happened, I couldn’t help but think about it, it sounded like static from the slender man game and a white face jumped out at me in the darkness, it was pure white, not any other color, so I don’t know if seeing a face is part of Exploding Head Syndrome.

  26. Wow. I finally know I’m not going mad:-) I hear the explosion, with light, about once a month when I’m dropping off. I just assumed it was me (I had a serious head injury in a car accident which resulted in sleep paralysis, nightmares and ptsd). Only in the past few weeks have I searched about it because I keep hearing screaming as I wake up (which my partner never hears).
    I feel much better now knowing I’m not bonkers! thank you.

  27. I have only had this very loud bang and a bright flash once, I woke up and it sounded like a car back firing or a door slamming. I was very scared. That was last week hope it goes away now.

  28. I hear doorbells, car horn and loud noises like heavy sheets of metal marking sharp noises as if it was slid against one another but it’s real sharp. I also wake up from body jerking. I don’t sleep well average maybe 4 hrs a night and some nights no sleep. I also have ringing in my ears nonstop. I wish there was something to be done for it.

    1. I have had this for years with explosion noises or do or knocking sometimes occurring repeatedly. I even installed CCTV outside my house as I thought someone was knocking on my door at night, so much so that I wanted to move home. I eventually mentioned it to my gp who just laughed at me and told me that she didn’t know what I was talking about, so I let it go. Interestingly I have a parathyroid disease with a constantly raised serum calcium and was wondering whether this might be relevant. However, I have decided not to mention it to ant go lest I be classed as insane!

    2. I hear doors slamming and light switches, even when I’m home alone… just before I heard a door slam and I looked back and the door was wide open but it happens way more frequently than once a day or month I experience this every hour or so

  29. It never occurred to me to do a little research about the condition until this morning after experiencing an episode. Now I can give it a proper name.

    It happens to me at least 1 or 2 times in a month. I learned to cope with it because of two historical conditions: hard of hearing (long history) and focal seizure (recently diagnosed). It occurred to me that it might be related to any of those conditions, so I didn’t worry that much.

  30. I hear the closing of doors in the day time. Check all doors – all open. I’m wide awake
    Use to hear the phone ringing.
    Wide awake.
    Am I schizophrenic?

    1. Hi Pat
      It’s impossible to say what might be the cause – this is something to discuss with your personal doctor. Diagnosing schizophrenia is more complex than just basing it on whether you sometimes hear noises. It requires a fuller assessment.

      1. I hear my sister screaming. It’s very loud and very realistic and it sounds like she’s in pain. It happens at least once a month for the past two years while I’m falling asleep but the first couple of times I actually thought it was my sister screaming since sometimes she gets a bit spooked at night, but usually when that happens it’s only a shout (these screams are longer and sound scarier and seem to happen from outside my door) and my mom and dad run to her room. I actually just discovered it today because when it happened no one else reacted and she had no recollection of screaming and neither did her boyfriend who was sleeping next to her. It leaves me with quite a big headache after, but I think that’s just because I think about it a little too much.

        1. The last couple of nights I have felt like my head was loudly being banged against a wall or something very hard repeatedly and loudly, as if my skull is cracking, only to wake up, perfectly fine, besides an elevated heart rate and a sweat, in my bed. I’m surprised because although I suffer from anxiety disorders which have been exacerbated lately, and have been pulling all-nighters this week as I finish up final exams, I am only 22, and it seems this usually affects older people. I am very sleep deprived at the moment but this is making me scared to go back to sleep because of how terrifying it feels in the moments before I wake up. I take clonidine to help sleep at night, along with Benadryl, but it is not doing anything helpful for this…

  31. I started getting this a few years ago whenever I have strong opiates or benzos like valium. Used to be able to take these drugs no problem. Now, whenever I take them I get EHS all night long everything I drift off to sleep. I also have tinnitus which doesn’t help.

  32. Had this for ages, started with doorbell, and knocking at door.
    Now “mum” is thrown into the mix, and a bright light has started too.
    Door slamming may be my neighbour :)
    Funny how common it is, but no one seems to discuss it.

    1. I started getting the loud explosions or like a truck crashed into my house, but last year it turned into the loud “cop knock”, three loud bangs like they’re at my door. Now sometimes it’s a super loud doorbell. Like your experience, it’s not like what’s been described for EHS. And it’s not when I’m drifting off or waking up, it’s when I’m deep asleep and I wake up terrified with my heart pounding.

  33. Finally a name for it! It happens about once a month. Loud explosion and light. I used to jump up but now I know and just go back to bed. Once my heart rate calms down. I also hear my kids yell for me and they aren’t. I am a light sleeper, now I know why. This happens when I’m in a deep sleep. Dr Oz did a segment on sleep paralysis. Praying and meditation helps a bit.

  34. I just woke up at about 2:45 am. I heard what sounded like a fist scraping against my wall next to me which was follows by a loud banging of a door. I wasn’t able to sleep two days ago, because I heard the noises again so I slept on my sister’s bed as she was out of town and I heard the banging noises again. I asked my dad as he was awake in the living room I heard the noises. He said no. I described the noises to him, and he said no he hadn’t heard the noises. My legs and arms feel numb, and my neighbors have said that I look tired. I think I also have exploding head syndrome cause I remember a few years ago as a kid, I woke up from a nightmare and it jerked me awake and I woke up sitting up.

  35. I have been having the door slamming on and off for several years. This occurs about every few weeks. Also, we have woods behind my bedroom. Many times I have been awoken by banging on my window. To the point I have gotten out of bed with a flash lite checking our deck to see if a bird killed itself. No way 3 days ago I had the slamming doors all day. I even banged both ears hard to stop it but no luck. I wish a reason for this could be found.

  36. I was sleeping tonight and heard a very loud knocking on my window (I think) and I just lay there burning in fear. My first thoughts were that someone was standing outside my window and if I remembered to lock all my windows. I eventually was able to pick up my phone and call my sister. I looked online and found this site. Could a bad dream have this effect??

  37. I haven’t slept very well for years. I fall asleep at around 8 and always wake at around 1 or 2am. I then think of many things in my head. I sometimes feel I may grind my teeth also. I do drink wine in the early evening to help me relax. Lately, I think I have had jerks that occur either in my whole body or just limbs. I stress out from that a lot. Keeping in mind my stress level is high. Nerves too. I worry a lot especially upon waking. I even think I may have had exploding head syndrome. Very scary. I’m reading about these jerks that I seem to get and I can’t fall back asleep because I worry about bringing them on. Any advice. Signed. A tired lady

  38. I have had this happen to me multiple times, not often though and I didn’t know there was actually a name for it. Mine always sounds like someone screaming in my ear and every time it happens I ask my husband if he heard someone scream and he always says no.
    Also I don’t know if this is maybe a form of sleep paralysis but some times when I’m having a nightmare, I will wake up from it and my brain will be telling me to open my eyes but I just can’t do it and I feel this fear that once I do open my eyes I’ll see something.

  39. Clomipramine – I did NOT find this helpful for me over the long-term. Although it seemed to help with the after-effects of experiencing symptoms, it did not seem to mitigate the severity or frequency of symptoms. In fact, it seemed to aggravate ocular symptoms, and cause new forms of ocular symptoms, namely seeing an after-image of my retina when blinking when waking up / going to sleep.

    Clonazepam – this was somewhat helpful to mitigate severity and frequency of symptoms, but I suspect only by lessening the sleep anxiety that might have made symptoms more frequent/severe, and lessened the sense of shock in response to symptoms. I think there were long-term-use ill-effects and I experienced severe withdrawal effects. I think this is good for short-term relief.

    Carbamazepine – this has been very helpful over the long-term, especially when combined with Gabapentin, although sleep is still very bad.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top