5 Sleep Disorders You Should Know About
Sleep Disorder #1: Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD)
If you have PLMD, you may experience jerking, cramping, or twitching of your lower limbs while you sleep. The involuntary movements happen every 5 to 90 seconds for up to an hour. Even if you don’t wake up during an episode, these movements will disrupt your sleep cycle. Often, your partner will be the one to alert you of your PLMD symptoms. People who have PLMD suffer from daytime sleepiness and fatigue.
FACT: PLMD affects 4% to 11% of the population.
Diabetes, spinal cord injuries, and even caffeine can cause PMLD. Treatment of PLMD requires lifestyle changes and/or medication. Lifestyle changes may include incorporating more iron in your diet, cutting back on caffeine, and practicing stress management techniques.
Sleep Disorder #2: Sleep Paralysis
Here’s a sleep disorder with the opposite effect of PLMD: sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis occurs when you temporary lose muscle control after falling asleep or just before waking up. During a sleep paralysis episode, you become aware that you cannot move your body.
FACT: Sleep paralysis episodes are often accompanied by hallucinations.
The hallucinations are usually scary; there is often a feeling that a dangerous person is nearby, or that you are suffocating. The causes of sleep paralysis are unknown. Although in ancient times, sleep paralysis was actually attributed to unseen night demons. Others claim its alien abductors. Today, researchers believe multiple factors bring on sleep paralysis, including sleep apnea, insomnia, or mental health conditions.
Sleep Disorder #3: REM Sleep Behavior Disorder
While sleep paralysis is considered extreme, it’s totally normal for your arms and legs to be temporarily paralyzed during REM sleep. Temporary paralysis prevents you from physically acting out your dreams and hurting yourself (or your partner). However, if you suffer from REM sleep behavior disorder, temporary paralysis does not occur. Instead you kick, punch, flail your arms, or even jump out of bed. You might talk, laugh, shout or cry out. These outbursts are usually the result of acting out unpleasant dreams. Unfortunately, REM sleep behavior disorder can have real life consequences. Over 60% of spouses experience physical injury because of their partner’s physical outbursts.
The cause of REM sleep behavior disorder is linked to the neural pathways that would normally paralyze your muscles during REM sleep. If you suffer from REM sleep behavior disorder, those pathways are compromised or disrupted in some way. Lifestyle changes, medication, and techniques to prevent injury are the recommended treatments for REM sleep behavior disorder.
Sleep Disorder #4: Somniphobia
We all have fears. Unfortunately, some of you fear thing most of us love: sleep! Somniphobia causes extreme dread about sleep.
FACT: In many cases, somniphobia isn’t being afraid of sleep, but what happens while you sleep.
If you suffer from other sleep disorders, you might also get somniphobia. For example, you may dread going to bed if you suffer from sleep paralysis. An effective treatment for most cases of somniphobia is exposure therapy. Therapy for somniphobia includes discussing your fear, seeing pictures of others sleeping, or taking naps while a loved one is nearby. In other cases, you may be prescribed anxiety medication.
Sleep Disorder #5: Kleine-Levin Syndrome
Kleine-Levin Syndrome (KLS) primarily affects adolescents. This complex neurological disorder causes periods of excessive sleep. KLS starts with becoming increasingly drowsy, sleeping for most of the day and night. Occasionally you may wake up to use the bathroom or eat, but when awake, you are confused, disoriented, and lethargic. Sometimes called the “Sleeping Beauty” syndrome, an episode of KLS can last for 10 years or more! Unfortunately there is no cure for this rare disorder. However, stimulants usually help combat the sleepiness of KLS. Patients and their families are also taught how to recognize episodes to help them through it.
Sometimes digital sleep trackers can help you identify sleep disorders. If you think you have a sleep disorder, speak with your doctor to see what can be done to alleviate symptoms.