Most people are well aware of more common sleep disorders like insomnia, narcolepsy, and sleep apnea and their effects on our health. However, what many may not know is the health hazards that come with some lesser known sleep disorders. All of these conditions do share one thing though, and that is preventing an individual from getting a good night’s sleep. Below are some less common sleep disorders that deserve the attention of medical professionals, and those suffering from them.
Many people have experienced this terrifying phenomenon that often comes with vivid hallucinations, typically of frightening images or sensations. During REM sleep, the brain essentially “turns off” the muscles so that the individual does not physically act out any dreams he or she may be having. Sleep paralysis occurs when you have awoken from REM sleep before that stage is finished, leaving your muscles paralyzed while your eyes are open, leaving you in a transient conscious state. During this state, many patients have experienced hallucinations of someone or something in the room with them, or feeling pressure on one’s chest. This sense of panic can directly affect your ability to fall back asleep.
Treating this condition depends on the causes. More often than not, sleep paralysis is a hereditary complication, making it all the more difficult to treat. However, it is mostly caused by sleep deprivation and narcolepsy, in which case getting a full night’s sleep on a consistent basis can help lessen or cure sleep paralysis altogether. Work closely with a sleep specialist if you feel that sleep paralysis frequently occurs in your life. Different forms of medication, such as antidepressants, may help.
Somewhat similar to sleep paralysis in that the individual experiences vivid nightmares, night terrors can lead to a person thinking they are awake, when they are actually asleep. In this state, you may scream and yell in your sleep, violently toss and turn, and sometimes sweat profusely. Though this typically occurs toddlers and young children, adults can experience night terrors as well.
Treatment for night terrors is fairly simple when a child is involved. While it may appear that they are in great distress, allowing children to go through the night terror without interfering is your best option. No physical harm is being done, but waking them suddenly can enhance their fear and potentially affect their sleeping patterns in the future. In adults, night terrors are most often caused by stress and anxiety, which can be treated with behavioral or relaxation therapy. Should an underlying condition be the cause, such as sleep apnea, treating that condition first should aid in curing the respective night terrors.
Exploding Head Syndrome
The name of this condition alone may startle a few people, but there is no pain associated with exploding head syndrome. This sleep disorder involves hearing a loud sound comparable to an explosion or gunshot right before the individual is about to fall asleep. As jarring as it may be, there is no physical harm done. However, exploding head syndrome can lead to a development of fear in patients, forcing them to stay awake for longer in an attempt to avoid experiencing it.
Seeing as this is another condition often caused by stress or depression, certain forms of medication may help, such as antidepressants or calcium channel blockers. More natural remedies include improving sleeping habits and meditation. Sleeping 7-8 hours a night consistently with little disturbance can prevent experiencing this phenomenon, much like the aforementioned conditions.