WSU doctor gaining notoriety over Exploding Head Syndrome



Posted on May 16, 2014 at 9:55 AM

Updated Sunday, May 18 at 8:06 AM

PULLMAN, Wash. -- A local doctor is making national headlines for his research on an unusual condition called Exploding Head Syndrome.

The sleep disorder is usually associated with hearing loud noises during sleep that do not exist. 

Dr. Brian Sharpless, with Washington State University’s Psychology Department, has spent a year researching the condition.

“You might think you’re going crazy when you wake up. Some people describe it as a terrorist event,” said Dr. Sharpless.

Exploding Head Syndrome might be physically harmless, but there's not a lot of research on what causes it.

“It’s sort of like your computer going through the process of shutting down. Something happened and the part of your brain that controls hearing and seeing things, instead of shutting down, actually gets activated,” said Dr. Sharpless.

40 WSU students complained of hearing loud noises at night and signed up for his study. They complained of waking to gun shots, cannons being fired, fireworks, cars whizzing by, or drum symbols.

It can happen to you once in your life or in the worse cases, multiple times in one night.

The reason not much is known about the cause, or the cure, is people historically have not come forward with their symptoms.

Dr. Sharpless found the syndrome is more common than he originally thought.

He is working with different therapies to find out what helps calm Exploding Head Syndrome.