The three states of mammalian being, W, REM sleep, and NREM sleep, are not mutually exclusive, and may occur simultaneously, oscillate rapidly, or appear in dissociated or incomplete form to produce primary sleep parasomnias. In addition, dysfunctions of a wide variety of organ systems may take advantage of the sleeping state to declare themselves, resulting in secondary sleep parasomnias. Contrary to popular opinion, the majority of the often bizarre and frightening experiences are not the manifestation of underlying psychological or psychiatric conditions. There is an interesting interaction between sleep-disordered breathing and parasomnias. Formal study in an experienced sleep disorders center will usually reveal a diagnosable and treatable condition that explains the spells. Continued study of unusual sleep-related events undoubtedly will reveal more fascinating conditions, expanding our knowledge of sleep physiology, and strengthening the bonds between clinicians and basic-science sleep researchers.