Many people are plagued with sleep disorders at some point in their life. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the person afflicted with one is mentally ill. However, it can point to a physiological concern that needs to be addressed. Here are the 10 worst sleep offenders.
Nightmare disorder awake in a cold sweat with dreadful visions while asleep. People with Nightmare Disorder often struggle with anxiety at the present time, even if they have not been diagnosed with an anxiety-related mental disorder. People who are afflicted with Nightmare Disorder have:
* Past personal or family history of anxiety disorders
* A lack of social support network
* A lack of coping skills
* Unresolved grief
* Advanced or terminal illness (self or loved one)
* Acute or chronic pain
Children have a 10%- 50% likelihood of having this sleep disorder, whereas 1%-3% of adults report having reoccurring Nightmare disorder. Often sedatives are given to reduce the symptoms, mostly physical, of Nightmare Disorder.
Sleepwalking can be exacerbated by alcohol, caffeine, and Narcolepsy. The latter is presented as daytime sleepiness but nighttime wakefulness. Often the person will appear to have seizures while in REM sleep. However, their movements are often involuntary, unharmful, and can even present itself with temporary paralysis. The sufferer’s brain will be awaking from sleep, but their body is still asleep. This doesn’t create any physical harm either. The elderly are more likely to suffer from sleepwalking. Additionally, it is more common among those who also suffer from some sort of neuropsychiatric disorders.
Night Terrors can be most frequently seen in those who are Bipolar and/or children. The peak age of most frequency is in those that are 3 ½ years of age. Approximately 1%-3% of people have this sleep disorder. Stressful life events, medications that affect the nervous system, fever, and sleep deprivation are common culprits. After 10 or 15 minutes, the sufferer typically falls back to sleep, blissfully unaware of the night terror just experienced. The bed partner, however, is not able to forget the screaming, yelling, punching, and kicking that just unfolded next to them.
Sleepy Hallucinations are one of the most disturbing sleep disorders, but though less common, still ranks high in frequency among sleep disorders. People who are more susceptible to having Sleep Hallucinations are those suffering from Depression (75% likelihood), Parkinson’s Disease, Schizophrenia, and those with Dementia. In addition to those persons being afflicted with Sleep Hallucinations, autistic people (50%-70% prevalence) and mental retarded persons (30%-80% occurrence) are found to also suffer from this sleep disorder. Like many parasomnias, Sleep Hallucinations cause delayed sleep onset, fragmented nocturnal sleep, insufficient sleep, and daytime sleepiness.
Exploding Head Syndrome is when someone is suddenly startled with a loud noise and awakes out of a dead sleep. Problem is that the loud noise usually characterized as a bang or clashing sound, was imaginary. No pain or danger is associated with this affliction. Not much is known about this sleep disorder, only that it is not associated with any serious illness-mental or physical.
Sleep paralysis is often associated with sleepwalking. The person is awake, but can’t move. People in Newfoundland call it “Old Hag”. Those in China refer to it as “ghost pressing down on you.” In Mexico, they call it “subirse el muerto,” or “the dead climb on top of you.” Some people wonder if the alien abductions related by so many people across the globe can be explained by this sleep disorder. It is one of the most common sleep disorders, afflicting one out of four people in the world. In 85.5% of the cases studied worldwide, persons who experience this sleep disorder state they can’t move though they are awake. In 72.6% of the time, they are also unable to speak. Their chest felt oppressed or pushed down in 43.5% of the occurrences. Many (46.8%) stated they felt a presence in the room. Hallucinations were present at least a third of the time.
REM Behavior Disorder is one that can jolt the life out of one’s sleeping partner. It is the opposite of Sleep Paralysis. The person experiencing this acts out their dreams to spooky degree of clarity. Whatever the person is dreaming is likely to occur. Due to the violent nature of this sleep disorder, injuries are common. This is likely to precipitate in the elderly and those with Parkinson’s Disease. Medications to reduce REM sleep and relax the body are often prescribed.
Nocturnal Eating Disorder is common with those afflicted with Parkinson’s Disease. It is not as common as sleepwalking, though it is related to it. Often the person has the following symptoms:
* Little or no appetite for breakfast
* Recurrent awakenings from sleep requiring eating to fall back asleep
* Eating more food after dinner than during the meal
* Eating more than half of daily food intake after dinner hour
This is a dangerous disease because the person afflicted with this sleep disorder often develops Type 2 diabetes from the extra calories and weight gain. There may also be shame and depression as a result from this disorder.
Sexsomnia is described to be performing sex partially or completely while asleep. The person will violently masturbate, have sex with a (willing or unwilling) partner and not remember any of it the next day. Legal problems can ensue if it involves an unsuspecting and unwilling person. Most people who have this sleep disorder are men. Loud vocalizations are common and can be very disturbing to sleep partners, as one can imagine. Avoiding alcohol, physical contact with a bed partner, stress, and drugs can lower the opportunities to have sex in a sleeping mode.
Insomnia is by far the worst culprit for sleep disorders. Approximately 30%-50% of the world has chronic insomnia. The risk factors for having insomnia is as follows:
* Being a woman
* Being a chronic alcoholic
* Having a mental health condition
* Living in a lower socioeconomic status
* Having a family history of insomnia
Those who experience insomnia are poor drivers, lack mental focus, do poorly at work, are irritable and have impaired social interactions, and difficulty with memory. Insomniacs try to medicate themselves with alcohol and over-the-counter sleep pills, but they often worsen the problem. For more information, see “Insomnia Causes,Symptoms, and Treatment”.
From the common to the bizarre, sleep disorders are no laughing matter. They can cause havoc in one’s life and in those around them. Sleep disorders create a burden on the health care industry. They cost insurance companies millions of dollars. Sleep disorders are often a red flag for more serious physical maladies.