The gift of a good night’s sleep is one many people forget to be grateful about when you wake up but it isn’t available to everyone. According to The Sleep Foundation, between 10% and 30% of older adults suffer from chronic insomnia or other severe sleeping disorders and up to 48% of all adults suffer from one form of sleeping disorder or another. Insomnia should be the least of your worries when it comes to sleeping disorders though because there are people that suffer from worse. From people who could forget to breathe while sleeping to those that could attack anything without knowing, here are 10 of the scariest sleeping disorders out there.
There are nightmares when you sleep but when you have chronic sleep paralysis, sleep in itself becomes your nightmare. Sleep paralysis often starts to show during teenage and gets more frequent in your 20s and 30s. It occurs when you wake up in the middle of your sleep but your body hasn’t actually woken up so you feel trapped within your body. Many people feel like they are being choked while in that state which brings an intense fear. It is not considered dangerous by doctors because you will snap out of it after a short while but it is really scary. The worst is when paralysis is accompanied by other sleeping disorders such as narcolepsy.
This is a type of sleeping disorder where people feel the urge to sleep or suddenly fall asleep at odd hours of the day. It may happen suddenly while you are cooking, driving or walking and can it can lead to accidents or injuries. The worst type is one accompanied by a condition known as Cataplexy which causes you to lose muscle coordination and function. Narcolepsy has different categories that may be dangerous but most people that suffer from it don’t show severe symptoms. It affects 1 in 2000 people.
Kleine Levin Syndrome
This is another rare sleeping disorder that mostly affects adolescent males although the symptoms may follow them later in life. It causes people to sleep for up to 20 hours a day without exactly getting enough sleep! When forced to wake up, the victims may show signs of apathy and irritability or sometimes extreme lethargy that causes them to look dull. Others may binge eat or show abnormal behaviours such as a high sex drive that doesn’t go away for hours.
Exploding Head Syndrome
This is another sleeping disorder that causes anxiety and other psychological effects on victims. There is nothing exploding but the victims feel like their head is bursting. It occurs while victims are in between sleep and wakefulness, often while drifting to sleep when they start imagining events and hearing noises that sound like explosions. Amidst the loud noise, some report seeing flashing lights which scares them and may cause insomnia as victims are afraid of falling asleep.
Fatal Familial Insomnia
Insomnia is a common sleeping disorder that affects a big percentage of the human population but fatal familial insomnia is on another level. It is a condition that makes it impossible for the victims to sleep at all and it may result in serious medical problems and even death. While it is hereditary in some people, it may also be caused by certain diseases or behaviour such as drug use and stress. The disease leads to physical and mental deterioration of the victim which if left untreated could cause death.
These are not nightmares. Nightmares go away and when you wake up, you can remember all or part of it. Sleep terrors happen while someone is in a deep stage of sleep known as N4 so they will only react to their nightmares without coming out of it. The reaction may be accompanied by an episode of shaking, screaming, flailing and other symptoms of intense fear. The victims may also feel ashamed of their episodes and find it hard to sleep at all causing them to feel tired and find it hard to operate during the day.
This is one rare sleeping disorder that is rarely diagnosed. It mostly affects people who suffer from other parasomnias such as sleepwalking and sleep talking. It is a period where victims exhibit strong sexual arousal in their sleep and may try to masturbate or have intercourse without waking up. Researchers say that being intoxicated, being depressed or having been deprived of sleep for long may make the condition worse. The victims may have intercourse and not have any recollection of the experience when they walk up.
This is one of the most dangerous types of sleeping disorders but you don’t have to worry because it is rarely fatal. It occurs when your breathing patterns are interrupted while you are sleeping either caused by your brain failing to send signals or your cardiac muscles relaxing or both. You end up getting less oxygen than your body requires and if prolonged, may cause other side effects. Most people with sleep apnea feel tired and sleepy even after a full night of sleep.
REM Sleep Behavior
REM sleep is the stage in your sleep when you dream but you are not supposed to act out these dreams. If you have REM sleep disorder, you may act the dreams out and it is very easy to get injured. People suffering from this disorder often find themselves moving their legs and hands rapidly trying to act out the dreams they are having. Some may wake up and attack walls and other objects while still in their sleep.
Sleepwalking is another parasomnia that can lead to many and often bad injuries. Unlike REM sleep Behavior, sleepwalkers actually act out the dreams they are having. The victims can do anything from eating uncontrollably to jumping off buildings while still sleeping.