I Have Exploding Head Syndrome. This Is What It Feels Like to Hear Gunshots In Your Mind.
At first I thought I was having a stroke. Then I find out this bizarre sleep disorder is more common than I ever imagined—and I finally learned how to shut it out.
Illustration by Nellie Robinson
I fell into bed with my whole body aching. I had spent yet another day fretting — over a problem with a friend, family drama, wedding planning details — and felt like I hadn’t stopped tensing my neck for a minute. I plugged in my earbuds and opened the meditation app I’d been using to try to keep myself calm throughout the wedding planning process — my fiancé and I had been together for nine years, but that somehow didn’t make coordinating a meal and dance party for ninety guests any easier, especially from more than five hundred miles away. I’d been having trouble sleeping.
Most nights, thankfully, the meditation app helped me calm down enough to drift off while listening to it. That was the case this night, and I was grateful when I was able to turn off my phone and still feel myself fading. But just as I was about to be out, I heard a tremendously loud crack. My eyes flew open and I sat up in bed. It sounded like a gunshot, and my mind raced: I’ve neve…