Most people are surprised to learn night terrors — or often called sleep terrors — impact a surprising number of adults. While the condition is most commonly associated with children between the ages of three and twelve, it is also known to affect adults. The exact causes of night terrors are relatively unknown, though adults that experience them often find that there is a genetic predisposition to do so. Sometimes they are attributed to post traumatic stress — especially when night terrors impact soldiers coming home from war and victims of violence. According to the Mayo Clinic, most night terrors in children will cease by the time the child is in his or her adolescence.
Has your child ever had an episode during sleep that included intense crying, kicking, thrashing, sweating, breathing quickly, rapidly beating heart rate, screaming loudly, getting out of bed and running throughout the house, being difficult to waken, or experiencing a profound fear? If so, your child probably had a night terror, also referred to as a sleep terror.
Who Experiences Night Terrors?
Up to 6 percent of children have a night terror at one time or another, according to WebMD. Children between the ages of three to 12 years are the most likely to get them. Although night terrors in adults are also an undesired sleep disorder, they occur in a far less percentage in adults than children. Fortunately, most children outgrow their night terrors by the time they reach their teens. If you’re a parent of a child who has night terrors, you should know that in most cases, night terrors in children aren’t a cause for a concern, albeit scary to witness.
When was the last time you were too excited to sleep? Was it over an important job interview? How about an upcoming vacation? This priceless Disney commercial sums it up for many people.
While many people associate this sense of excitement preventing sleep with the exuberance of the young, it can be a real downer the next day when adults are the ones who are too excited to sleep the night before. What can you do to get the sleep you need before exciting events, so that you’re not dealing with the fog of sleep deprivation rather than enjoying the event you were so excited about the night before?
Keep to Your Normal Nighttime Routine
What this means is that the packing and plans need to be finished well ahead of time, so you’re not rushing around trying to pick out the right interview power suit or pack all your vacation toiletries long after you should have been in bed in the first place. Keeping to your normal routine signals the brain that it’s time to shut down and prepare the body for sleep.
Who doesn’t love a great midnight snack? The problem is, those midnight snacks might not be showing your body the love it really needs to receive from the food you eat. In fact, late night eating may have a few unexpected and certainly unwanted side effects. You should be aware of the potential pitfalls involved in eating before bed before you take another bite of your favorite late night snack attack fix.
Downside of Eating Before Bed
The bedtime routine in your house may invite late night snacks, or even after dinner snacks. But, are these snacks as good for your body as you think they are? Probably not. These are a few of the potential side effects associated with eating before bed that you need to know about.
Sleep, aside from food and water, is one of the most important things the body needs in order to repair itself, recover from injuries, and prepare to face the day. People who have difficulty sleeping or are unable to get an adequate amount of sleep will often find their communication ability, critical thinking, and even mobility are impaired—especially those who suffer from long-term sleep deprivation.
Are you getting enough sleep? Do you wake up feeling well-rested most mornings, or do you find yourself hitting the snooze button a few too many times once morning rolls around?
What if You’re Too Tired to Sleep?
Believe it or not, some people feel so tired and yet are unable to fall asleep. Any parent who has gone through the terrible two’s knows what it’s like to have a little one fighting sleep. The child is sleepy, it’s past nap time or bed time, and the child is struggling, fighting, wailing, and crying—anything to keep from going to sleep.
When you’re overly tired, sleep can be incredibly elusive leaving you feeling as frustrated as an overstimulated child fighting sleep. Your body is screaming for sleep, but your mind simply won’t shut off and let it happen.
The average person feels a little jagged around the edges as a result of a sleepless night or even a night when the quality of sleep was less than optimal. However, a recent study conducted by the Neuroimaging Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley has revealed that “people who are highly anxious may actually be more vulnerable” to serious anxiety issues in the aftermath of a sleepless night.
The University of California, Berkeley study scanned the brains of 18 adults (who were all in good health) on two different occasions. One was after an ordinary night’s worth of sleep and the other after a night where they were deprived of sleep. During each session, subjects were exposed to a period of prolonged anticipation of a potentially negative experience. Those who experienced sleep deprivation the night before had reactions that were significantly stronger than those who had enjoyed a more restful sleep on the previous evening. In some cases, primarily for those predisposed to anxiety, the reaction was amplified by as much as 60 percent.
Which Comes First, Anxiety or Sleep Issues?
Once upon a time it was well understood that chronic anxiety can do a real number on your ability to sleep. For a long time, it was believed that sleep problems were simply side effects of anxiety disorder. However, new research indicates that sleep deprivation can actually be the cause of an anxiety disorder. Research also indicates that patients suffering from almost any psychiatric disorder also suffer from some form of sleep disorder. People who suffer from chronic insomnia are at a much greater risk of developing some type of anxiety disorder.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also referred to as the “winter blues” in its milder form, impacts roughly half a million individuals each winter, according to Mental Health America. This disorder makes its presence during the months of September through April, but peaks during the winter months of December, January, and February.
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
One of the hallmark signs of seasonal affective disorder is winter sleep disturbances. Among feedback from nearly 300 SAD patients, complaints of excessive oversleeping, termed hypersomnia, were made by 80 percent of the respondents, according to a study by researchers at Brigham’s and Women’s Hospital.
Aside from winter sleep hypersomnia, other symptoms of SAD include:
- excessive morning grogginess (difficulty waking up)
- difficulty staying awake
- carbohydrates cravings
- lack of energy and feeling of lethargy and fatigue
- withdrawal from family, friends, and social activities
- decreased sex drive
- weight gain
- difficulty concentrating on tasks
- not completing tasks
- feeling depressed
For one Pittsburgh surburbia teen, Sleeping Beauty isn’t just Walt Disney movie or fairy tale book. For Nicole Delien, Kleine-Levin Syndrome (KLS), sometimes referred to as Sleeping Beauty Syndrome, is more like a nightmare of wondering when the next sleep episode is going to strike and worrying about how much of her life she’ll miss out on the next time it does.
According to a recent interview on CBS, Nicole’s longest sleeping episode lasted from Thanksgiving into January, 64 days to be exact. The only time she would waken during these sleep cycles was in a sort of sleep-like state to eat and then she would return to sleep.
What is Sleeping Beauty Syndrome?
KLS is an extremely rare neurological condition that only affects about 1,000 people around the world according to this Huffington Post article. It’s a severe form of primary hypersomnia that happens to be an extremely difficult condition for physicians to diagnose. Part of the difficulty is that it is such a rare condition. For Nicole, the diagnosis took nearly 25 months to complete. Before the final diagnosis was made, doctors considered everything from a severe virus to epilepsy, and even questioned whether or not she was simply faking an illness in order to gain attention.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, somniloquy, also known as sleep talking is a condition that impacts half of all young children and nearly five percent of all adults. While it can be somewhat alarming and completely frustrating at times, there are also nuggets of humor to be found in the sleep talking process. The main thing to remember is that sleep talking alone is rarely cause for alarm and is more common than most people realize.
What is Sleep Talking?
The problem is that it can be different among different people. There is no static rule for what it sounds or looks like. It can be loud and alarming. The words can sound harsh and angry. Or it can be soft and melodic in a sort of sing-song voice. It can be complete sentences that are perfectly understandable, one word statements, or even total gibberish. It can sometimes be very graphic and adult in nature. At times, the talk can be downright humorous, as captured by a loving wife of her “Sleep Talkin’ Man” husband.
Those big puppy dog eyes are begging for a snuggle. It’s almost impossible to say no to your cozy little dog, all curled up next to you under the covers—almost as hard as it is to say no to your 5-year-old who’s scared in the middle of the night. And very few of us can deny a spouse who has just as much of a right to the master bed as you do. But sleeping companions can dramatically reduce the quality of your sleep in myriad ways. Each time they move, you’re disturbed. Every snuffle or snore, chortle or blanket snatch interrupts your precious sleep. If you happen to be a light sleeper or suffer from any form of insomnia, those disruptions can rob you of hours of sleep every night as you lay there staring at the ceiling, worrying about bills or work. Long-term, that can have serious implications for your health. So what do you do? How do you reclaim your bedroom sanctuary? Here are some ideas.