There are numerous sleeping disorders, and some are yet to be discovered. The main reason why people go into in-depth research, doctor’s appointments and spend quite a considerable amount of money is to find a long lasting and immediate solution. Sadly, some disorders do not have a remedy or a cause. In this article, we have in-depth, detailed information on sleep disorders, types, and treatments that could help lessen its effects.
What Is a Sleep Disorder?
Research and medical practitioners describe sleep disorders as any disturbance that affects an individual’s capability to either stay awake during the day or fall asleep at night. No specific age group has more chances of having sleep disorders because it affects all age groups from newborns. If you find yourself tossing and turning all through the night, or have trouble staying awake at daytime, it could be the sign of sleep problems. Studies suggest that almost 70 million Americans suffer from the above disorder and many are unaware of having one. The leading cause of this disorder is insufficient sleep. Any person who is not getting adequate sleep is at a higher risk of having this problem. Many studies have been done, and confirmed sleep is essential to our bodies, not only for physical but also for mental purposes.
5 Stages of Sleep
When we sleep, our bodies automatically go through a process that includes 5 stages of sleep. Stage 1-4 is known as Non-REM (Rapid Eye Movement) Sleep and Stage 5 REM Sleep. Stage 5 generates more brain activity, and a high percentage of dreaming takes place here. The five stages cycle numerous times throughout the whole night and are essential to rejuvenate and restore your body’s energy. If at one time or another, you find that there is an interruption during sleep, it might lead to disastrous effects. Some of these include memory loss, fatigue, poor coordination and concentration, life-threatening incidences. Remember that exhaustion and tiredness can cause high-risk medical conditions like depression, heart disease, and obesity.
Types of Sleep Disorders
There are over 100 kinds of sleep disorders. The most common is insomnia, which is where people find it difficult to sleep at night. Let us look at the most common sleep disorders widely known, medication and see what causes them.
Sudden Unexpected Nocturnal Death Syndrome
The condition is also referred to as sudden arrhythmic death syndrome. This condition has little to zero prior symptoms, and anyone can fall victim. Post-mortems show that a higher percentage of the sufferers had previously unknown heart ailments. This disorder was first discovered in the early 1970″s among the Hmong people living in Laos. Medical practitioners noted that healthy Hmong men were dying during sleep at an alarming rate. Because of this, mythology known as dab tsuam came about and people had the belief of a jealous hag-like old woman would sit on the men’s chest at night to ensure breathing stops. The overwhelming feeling is what triggered genetic heart defects later causing their deaths.
A person wakes up during REM sleep to discover that their body is in paralysis. This also occurs as one is falling asleep. This process/ action can last from a few seconds to several minutes and is often leads to hallucinations and panic attacks. Stress, depression and lack of sleep have all been linked to sleep paralysis but, there is no definite cause of the condition.
The condition occurs in healthy people in addition to people with narcolepsy or hereditary genetic changes. The condition affects 5 percent of people regularly but up to 50 % of the people experience the episodes once in a while.
There is no sure way for prevention with recommendations of not sleeping in the supine position as the most recommended way of prevention. Also as in most other sleeping disorders, having a regular sleeping schedule helps a lot.
REM Sleep Behavior Disorder
This REM parasomnia prevents an individual’s muscles from paralyzing during sleep. This means that sufferers will act out physically their dreams. They can talk, kick, punch and even walk about as though they are wide awake. Some also punch through the wall at night and end up with broken bones. The disorder occurs more in men (approximately 90%) as compared to women but also occurring in the elderly more.
In 2008, a father of two believed he was fighting off an intruder while asleep. Thomas, unfortunately, strangled his wife to death. Due to his long history of REM disorder and many character references, he was acquitted of his wife’s murder. Your body cycles through REM every 60 to 90 minutes with most of it occurring later in sleep. Anti-depressants and alcohol are the top cause of this problem.
Sleep apnea is very dangerous and causes people to stop the breathing cycle through the night, which might lead to death during sleep. Most of the research done on Americans show that approximately 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea.
There are two types of sleep apnea: Obstructive sleep apnea and Central Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition where the throat muscles relax, and the airways close while central sleep apnea is when the brain stops relaying messages to your breathing muscles, which cause the victim to forget to breathe.
There are numerous reasons why this disorder prevails. Some include high-blood pressure, smoking and excess weight. A recommendable treatment is the use of air pressure masks that help to regulate breathing. In addition, use of sedatives like Clonazepam and a high-dose of the hormone known as Melatonin can help decrease the effects of this disorder.
Exploding Head Syndrome
Exploding head syndrome is a condition where victims hear loud but imagined noises/sounds when they are on the verge of falling asleep or even waking up. Patients have described the sounds as sounding almost similar to doors slamming, bombs exploding or cars crashing. Muscle spasms and light flashes accompany some of the noises. The above condition is common, and 18% of individuals have an experience of it according to a research conducted by the European Sleep Research Society. What is certain is that the cause is a sudden neural action brought by sleep disruption like jet lag, voluntary lack of sleep or temporary insomnia.
Sexsomnia / Sleep sex
Sexomnia is a condition where patients engage in sexual activities like fondling and masturbation while entirely asleep, with no recollection of their actions and zero control over their body. There was a heated court case in the year 2014 when Mikael Halvarsson from Sweden who accidentally raped his roommate at that time. After character references, sleep studies and medical history the case was overturned as he was a victim of sexsomnia. One cannot fake this disorder as a study done at Case Medical Center in Cleveland because studies and medical history of the sufferer prove of its existence.
A person’s sleep-wake cycle is essential. If at any moment, disruptions come about, it can lead to unpleasant side-effects. Narcolepsy disrupts your brain’s capability of regulating the sleep-wake cycle. In some cases, someone experiences excessive sleeping at daytime, unnecessary disruptions during the night, poor concentration and memory loss problems. Furthermore, extreme narcoleptics are at a higher risk of sleep attacks because the unexpectedly fall asleep during mid-task. Also, other sufferers have cataplexy which is whereby strong emotions trigger loss of your muscle tone and leads to collapsion. Over 3 million individuals suffer from the above disorder.
Sleep-Related Eating Disorder
I know most of you have heard of people who love snacking at midnight which is commonly known as a midnight snack. Some people might confuse this disorder offers uncontrollable food cravings that make the affected to have no sense of control over their habits and never have a memory of even leaving their beds. The most common victims are middle-aged women. Junk foods and sugary snacks are the most binged-on items, but there are cases where people eat weird things like cat food, cigarette butts or salt sandwiches.
Kleine Levin Syndrome\Sleeping Beauty Syndrome
The above disorder affects teenage boys. A sufferer can sleep up to 23 hours in a day non-stop or even some sleep for days. When they wake up, they usually have increased sexual drives and hunger. One good thing about this disorder is that it occurs over a few years with a few months break in between the episodes. The cause is unknown until now although 2/3 of sufferers confirm they had viral infections before the disorder commenced. The symptoms reduce by the use of a mood stabilizer lithium.
Fatal Familial Insomnia
This disorder is one of the rarest affecting only 40 families globally. The sleeping disorder is caused by a rare genetic brain disease. The first process is struggling to sleep for a few months, weight loss and also panic attacks. Later on, as the disease progresses, victims fall into total physical and mental deterioration. The brain suddenly does not remember how to sleep which in some cases leads to death or comas. Carriers of these genes can pass the genes unknowingly to their offsprings because it manifests at child-bearing age.
Although there is no definite treatment for a sleeping behavior disorder, there are ways; one can reduce the chances of injuries. Some of these include moving the bed away from the window, moving lamps and other items away from the bed, working with your doctor to determine which type you have, medication reduces movement and extreme action. A patient should take it at the right time and prescribed amount. On the other hand, lifestyle changes can be a great way to deal with sleeping behavior disorder. Demanding lifestyle makes it harder for anyone to control the disorder. Ensure you reduce stress by doing friendly activities like cozying up on the couch, watching a movie, reading a book or even listening to soothing music. In addition, setting up and sticking to a regular sleep schedule can help.