Understanding Exploding Head Syndrome: An Overview

Have you ever experienced a sudden and terrifyingly loud noise that seems to come from inside your head as you are about to fall asleep or wake up? If yes, then you might have been a victim of Exploding Head Syndrome (EHS). Although this condition sounds scary, it is relatively harmless and often goes unnoticed, despite the discomfort that it may cause. In this article, we will explain what exploding head syndrome is, its symptoms, causes, and how to manage it.

What is Exploding Head Syndrome?

Exploding Head Syndrome is a relatively uncommon sleep disorder characterized by dysfunction of the brain’s mechanism responsible for controlling sleep stages. It is a neurological condition whereby a person perceives loud, sudden, and startling noises, such as a bomb exploding or a gunshot, despite no actual external sound. This sensation can occur just as an individual is about to fall asleep or right after they wake up in the middle of the night. In some cases, EHS can be accompanied by a bright flash of light, which can be equally terrifying.

Symptoms of Exploding Head Syndrome

The primary symptom of EHS is a loud noise in the head, usually described as a thunderclap, gunshot, explosion, or a cymbal crash. The noises tend to be brief but can cause a great deal of discomfort and anxiety. The condition can occur once or multiple times in a single night, and there can be considerable variation in individual experiences. Other common symptoms that people with EHS may experience include insomnia, migraine, chronic fatigue, and anxiety.

Causes of Exploding Head Syndrome

The exact cause of EHS is still unknown, but experts suggest several factors may trigger the condition. One theory is that the noise results from an abnormality in the processing of auditory signals. Another possibility is that EHS is related to the brain’s failure to shut down and transition smoothly between sleep stages. Other potential risk factors include stress, sleep deprivation, caffeine, and alcohol consumption.

How to Manage Exploding Head Syndrome

Though EHS is a benign condition, it might cause considerable anxiety and sleep disturbance. The first step in managing the condition is to ensure you get enough sleep. Try adopting good sleep practices, such as avoiding caffeine before bed, reducing screen time, and creating a relaxing bedtime routine. If these don’t seem to help, you can talk to your doctor and consider taking medications such as tricyclic antidepressants or calcium channel blockers that can help manage the disorder’s symptoms.


Exploding Head Syndrome is an unusual sleep disorder characterized by hearing scary loud noises that seem to come from inside the head. The sounds can be frightening, but the disorder is relatively benign and usually does not require treatment. In some patients, the condition can cause anxiety and sleep disturbance, but good sleep practices and medication can help manage the symptoms effectively. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor.