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Extremely scary sleep-related disorders

Extremely scary sleep-related disorders
Extremely scary sleep-related disorders

It's not just sleepwalking and nightmares that are spooky once night falls. Here's a look at bizarre sleep-related disorders that can inspire a horror flick

Sleep is supposed to be a time of peace and relaxation. Most of us drift from our waking lives into predictable cycles of deep, non-REM sleep, followed by dreamfilled rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep. However, when the boundaries of these three phases blur, sleep can be sometimes scary. In fact, some sleep disorders seem more at home in horror flicks than in your bedroom, going beyond sleep walking and awful nightmares.

Exploding head syndrome 
This disorder occurs during the onset of deep sleep, when the person is suddenly startled awake by a sharp, loud noise. These noises range from cymbals crashing to explosives going off. To the person hearing them, the explosions seem to originate either from right next to the person's head or inside the skull itself. However, there is no pain involved, and no danger, either.

Sleep paralysis 
During REM sleep, dream activity ramps up and the voluntary muscles of the body become immobile. This temporary paralysis keeps us from acting out our dreams and hurting ourselves. Sometimes, though, the paralysis persists even after the person wakes up. You know you are awake and you want to move. But you just can't. Sleep paralysis coincides with hallucinations. And these hallucinations, when they occur with sleep paralysis, are no picnic; people commonly report sensing an evil presence, along with a feeling of being crushed or choked.

Studies have found that certain factors — such as age, sleep deprivation and irregular sleeping patters — make you more likely to get sleep paralysis.

Night terrors 
Unlike nightmares, night terrors occur early in the night. They're most common in children. The person in the midst of a terror may suddenly sit upright, eyes open, often yells or screams, and can't be awakened or comforted. In some cases, night terrors mix with sleepwalking. After 10 or 15 minutes, the person usually settles back into sleep. Most don't remember anything about their episode the next morning. The cause of night terrors is a mystery, but fever, irregular sleep and stress can trigger them.

REM behaviour disorder 
If sleep paralysis is an example of too much immobility, so-called REM behaviour disorder is an example of too little. Sometimes, the brain doesn't properly signal the body to stay still during REM sleep. When that happens, people act out their dreams. They may yell, thrash, punch and kick, and even get out of bed and run around. When woken up, they'll usually remember their dream, but fat chance that they'll recall moving around. Given the violence of these outbursts, injuries are common.

REM behaviour disorder occurs most often among older adults, and it can be a symptom of Parkinson's disease, a degenerative neurological disorder. Doctors usually treat the disorder with medications that reduce REM sleep and relax the body.

Nocturnal eating 
People with sleep-related eating disorder go on eating binges at night, only to wake the next morning with little to no memory of the event. Some endanger themselves by chopping ingredients or turning on the stove. Others eat raw ingredients, like frozen food or plain butter.

The disorder is poorly understood, but, like sleepwalking, it occurs during non-REM sleep. Drugs that increase dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with reward and pleasure, can help stop the unconscious night-time snacking.

Sleep sex can range from loud sexual moans to self-injurious masturbation to sexual assault or rape. Most research on sexsomnia have involved small case studies. A study, which was published in 2007 in the journal

Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, suggested that sleep deprivation, stress, alcohol, drugs and physical contact with a bed partner play a role. But no one knows why some people respond to these triggers with sexual behaviour

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