Sleep Cycle, Interrupted
Normally when we sleep, our brains are highly active while our bodies experience temporary paralysis. According to the National Sleep Foundation, REM behavior disorder blurs the lines between wakefulness, normal sleep, and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Sleepers with REM behavior disorder often act out their dreams in episodes that can be as mild as sleep talking or more extreme, like hitting or punching.
Also see: 10 Health Implications of a Sedentary Lifestyle
Sexsomnia (Sleep Sex)
Patients suffering from this condition perform sexual acts with their partners or themselves while asleep. In 2002, researchers at Stanford University documented cases that were as mild as making sexual sounds while sleeping and others that amounted to full-blown cases of violent sexual assault. Other sleep disorders are often behind the unusual sleep behavior. In some instances clinics like Stanford’s Sleep Disorders Center recommend counseling, psychotherapy or even antidepressants to manage the disorder.
Also see: 6 Smart Ways to Increase Your Productivity and Save Time
Episodes usually involve high-calorie foods (or other oddities like coffee grounds, cat food or cleaning products) eaten over a very short time and without the sleeper’s knowledge. Because sleep-related eating is both a sleep disorder and an eating disorder, the Mayo Clinic points out that the effects can be complex, especially if the sleeper has other conditions such as diabetes or food allergies. The first signs of the disorder often occur when patients are in their 20s. Substance abuse withdrawal, medication side effects and separation anxiety can all trigger sleep eating.
Also see: 10 Ways to Beat the Sunday Blues
There are two types of adult bedwetting. Primary nocturnal enuresis happens when an adult never overcomes simple childhood bedwetting associated with potty training. The other is called adult onset secondary enuresis, which begins well into adulthood. The condition can be genetic, but a variety of factors, including diabetes, can be at the root of the problem, according to the National Association for Continence. Increased production of urine during sleep, or insufficient production of antidiuretic hormone (which normally inhibits nighttime urine production) can both lead to adult bedwetting.
Also see: 6 Tips to Revamp Your Morning Routine
Sleep Talking (Somniloquy)
Ranging from snippets of gibberish to longer, sophisticated speeches, sleep talking can also be the symptom of another sleep disorder, such as REM behavior disorder or sleep terrors. According to the National Sleep Foundation, men and children are more likely than adult women to talk in their sleep. Treatment isn’t usually necessary—unless it’s bothering your sleep partner. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule is more often than not the solution to mild cases of persistent sleep talking.
Also see: Could You Have Adult ADHD? Here are the Signs
One of the more common types of parasomnia (an unusual or undesirable sleep behavior), sleepwalking often occurs as a symptom of another condition, such as sleep apnea, sleep deprivation, or as a side effect from a medication. Contrary to the old wives’ tale, the National Sleep Foundation says a sleepwalker will not be harmed if you wake him. However, because it can be difficult to rouse a sleepwalker, the Mayo Clinic recommends gently escorting him or her back to bed instead.
Also see: 30 Summer Foods for Weight Loss
Though extreme nightmare spells are common among young children, adults with alcohol problems, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety disorders or chronic stress are also susceptible. Night terrors also tend to run in families. Unlike children, adults who experience night terrors more often remember fragments of their nightmares. These intense nightmares are typically characterized by screaming, violent thrashing, sweating, heavy breathing and a racing pulse, according to National Institutes of Health. In the grips of night terrors, some adults will even get out of bed and frantically run around the room.
Though it may seem that way, narcolepsy actually has nothing to do with a lack of sleep. The Mayo Clinic concedes that the root cause of narcolepsy remains a mystery, but some doctors say genetics, infection and exposure to toxins may have something to do with it. Sudden-but-brief attacks of sleep are the hallmark of narcolepsy, but other symptoms include extreme daytime drowsiness, hallucinations, temporary paralysis and slurred speech.
Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)
Characterized by grinding or clenching of the teeth during sleep, bruxism is often taken very seriously because of its potential to be caused by or lead to other medical problems. Physically, bruxism is often identified from the chronic facial pain or headaches it can cause. The Mayo Clinic says it can also be the result of sleep apnea or chronic snoring. Dentists will frequently prescribe a protective mouth guard and a muscle relaxant to reduce the symptoms and prevent tooth damage.
Restless Legs Syndrome
Affecting about 10 percent of adults and 2 percent of children in the United States, restless legs syndrome is characterized by the constant urge to move your legs when resting or asleep. Uncomfortable sensations–such as tingling, itching or aching–often occur in addition to restlessness, interfering with a patient’s ability to get a good night’s sleep. Those suffering from the condition will involuntarily jerk their limbs around, as the movement helps relieve the urge, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Because of the serious sleep deprivation associated with the neurological disorder, many of those suffering from restless legs syndrome are misdiagnosed with depression.
Connect with iVillage.ca: