The long, dark night: 10 sleep disorders

You're supposed to feel safe in bed at night, but this list of weird and scary sleeping disorders might just make you appreciate daytime a bit more.

10. Kleine-Levin Syndrome

KLS is also referred to as the sleeping beauty syndrome. It's a rare disorder linked to excessive amounts of sleep. We didn't even know it was possible to sleep too much, but there you have it.

It leads to people feeling drowsy and confused, sometimes for weeks or months at the time. Imagine feeling like you just got out of the bed, only the feeling doesn't seem to go away.

9. Sleepwalking

Some people just can't stay still and get up in the middle of the night without actually waking up. Usually it's kind of fun, such as taking a short walk around the house, but sometimes people try to drive or cook while sleepwalking, which can quickly become very dangerous.

It's reported that up to 15% of adults suffer from the sleepwalking disorder and for children it's an even higher percentage.

8. Sleep paralysis

This is one of the scariest sleep disorders to experience. When the body falls asleep, the brain switches your voluntary muscles 'off', to prevent you from acting out your dreams.

It's possible to wake up while in this paralysed state and be essentially trapped in your own body. You're mentally awake but can't speak or move your arms and legs. To make matters worse, this is usually accompanied by a strong feeling of dread and possibly hallucinations.

Many scientists suspect that stories of alien abductions are in fact episodes of severe sleep paralysis.

7. Exploding head syndrome

The name sounds terrible but it's actually one of the more benign sleep disorders. It's characterized hearing loud imagined noises, usually during the onset of sleep.

There's no pain or danger involved and it doesn't seem to be associated to any particular illness. But we imagine it does lead to crankiness to hear a bomb go off just when you're about to fall asleep...

6. Hypnagogic hallucinations

This disorder is somewhat related to exploding head syndrome. Hypnagogia refers to the state between wakefulness and sleep. You can start to see and hear things which aren't there - like dreaming, but you're technically still awake. A common hallucination is seeing bugs crawling up the wall. Yikes.

A few of these hallucinations is nothing to worry about, but for some people it can lead to drowsiness during daytime and impact their day to day life.

5. Binge eating disorder

Also called nocturnal eating disorder. As the name implies, this disorder leads people to raid the kitchen in the middle of the night and stuff themselves full of food. Most people don't remember their snackmania the following morning, so it seems to be a type of sleepwalking.

If you find yourself mysteriously getting fatter and losing chocolate chip cookies left and right, you may just be a night eater.

4. Sexsomnia

Also called sleep sex, a condition in which a person will engage in sexual activities while asleep. Though it sounds like a fairly harmless disorder, it can lead to self-injury and even sexual assault.

This disorder is related to sleep deprivation, alcohol and drugs, but no one knows why some people respond to these triggers with sexual behaviour.

3. REM behavior disorder

REM behavior disorder (RBD) is like a reverse sleep paralysis. Instead of the body shutting down, the muscles remain active and you act out all your dreams in real life, which can lead to injuries to self or to bed partner.

RBD occurs most often among older adults, and it can be a symptom of Parkinson's disease, a degenerative neurological disorder.

2. Night terrors

Not to be confused with nightmares which arise during REM sleep, night terrors happen during non-REM sleep, usually early in the night. They're most common in children. The person in the midst of a terror may suddenly sit upright, eyes open, though they aren't actually taking in the sights. The person often yells or screams, and can't be awakened or comforted.

1. Insomnia

The most common sleeping disorder is simply the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep for an adequate time. While most people suffer from the occasional sleepless night due to illness or stress, if you have insomnia for an extended period of time it can quite severely impact your quality of life. Symptoms include lack of concentration and irritability.

A healthy night's rest

If you suspect you're suffering from one of these disorders, please consult your doctor. Most, if not all of them, can be treated with medication.

One supplement that can help balance your sleep cycle is melatonin. Read more about it in the Azarius encyclopaedia.