Sleep is essential for people from all social and economic groups. Every living creature needs sleep in order to function. Unfortunately, many disorders and conditions limit or impair your ability to get a good night’s sleep. Although there are a plethora of sleep disorders, these are a few of the heavy hitters.
The cause of sleep paralysis is not known at this time, though there is some belief that it does run in families. People who suffer from this particular disorder are unable to move their body or limbs when falling asleep or waking up. It can be terrifying to people who experience it because they don’t know what’s happening to them. However, the condition of sleep paralysis in itself isn’t harmful.
While commonly occurring in children between the ages of 4 and 12, night terrors affect children and teens of all ages, as well as three percent of adults. Night terrors differ from nightmares in that they occur during the deep sleep stages. There is some evidence to suggest that night terrors run in families. They can be exacerbated in times of emotional stress or by the use of alcohol and certain medications. People who experience night terrors often appear to wake abruptly in a state of blind terror and are unable to communicate. The episodes typically last 15 minutes — though they can linger longer — and end with the person returning to sleep. Because people experiencing night terrors are in a panicked state, they may cause injuries to themselves or people nearby.
Sleeping Beauty Syndrome is the common nickname for Kleine-Levin Syndrome (KLS), which primarily impacts teen males (70 percent of those with this condition are male) though it can, and does, impact teen females as well. It presents itself in “episodes” of excessive sleep that last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. During these episodes, people suffering from KLS will sleep up to 20 hours per day. Even during their “waking” stages of these episodes they will appear to be sleep walking through the day. Between episodes, these teens will behave and function normally.
This condition isn’t harmful at all, though it may disturb the people who sleep around the person with this condition. Sleep talking typically occurs in a transition period between sleep and waking. Sleep talking may involve complex sentences, simple sounds, or even single words. Most people who sleep talk have no recollection of their conversations. This condition may become more pronounced in periods of high stress.
Insomnia is a condition where the person suffering from it has difficulty falling asleep, wakes frequently throughout the night with difficulty returning to sleep, wakes up too early in the morning, or has sleep that is simply not refreshing. Some people have more than one of these symptoms. Insomnia impacts as much as 50 percent of adults, at least occasionally, reports the Cleveland Clinic. Stress is the most common cause of insomnia though it can be attributed to other things like illness, medications, pain, depression, and environmental factors.
A common sleep disorder, sleep apnea results in one or more pauses in breathing or a series of shallow breaths while sleeping. Pauses in breathing vary in length sometimes lasting several minutes and may occur 30 plus times in an hour. Breathing typically resumes with a loud snort or, in some many cases, a choking sound. Sleep apnea leads to poor quality sleep, may lead to excessive sleepiness throughout the day, or more serious health complications.
Appropriately called Restless Leg Syndrome, this condition is a strong urge to move your legs. It’s often brought on by a pulling, burning, or crawling sensation that can be felt in the calves, feet, or thighs. Restless leg syndrome symptoms are most acute after long periods of sitting or lying down. Symptoms are also often worse during evening and nighttime hours than during the day. Temporary relief can be gained by getting up and moving around.
People who sleep walk often get up and move around with their eyes wide open though they’re actually asleep. People who have been sleep walking often have no recollection of where they’ve walked or what they’ve done while sleeping. Sleep walking most often occurs during deep sleep and is most common in children between the ages of 6 and 12, though it can happen with younger children, teens, and adults.
Keep in mind that this is not a comprehensive list of all sleep disorders. Other sleep disorders you might want to learn about include Narcolepsy, Shift Work Sleep Disorder, Bruxism, Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder, Periodic Limb Movement Disorder, and many more.
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