Something none of us can live without is sleep. Fortunately, it’s completely free and something the government has not yet decided to tax. At times sleep can seem like a burden since we may be busy with something important (or fun) and we may not be ready to stop. At other times we may be feeling exhausted and really looking forward to that time when we can lay our head on the pillow. Sleep, like so many other things, is not without its problems for many people. For those of us who have no trouble sleeping, it may be hard to imagine how disruptive and distressing some sleep disorders can be.
RESTLESS LEG SYNDROME
RLS is something that has come to the attention of more people due to advertisements for new drugs that are available for treatment. RLS sufferers experience an unexplained and compulsive urge to move their legs or other parts of their body. Since the legs are the most commonly affected areas, the disorder was named for that particular variation of the condition.
For those who suffer from this condition, “terrors” might not be an adequate word to describe it. This condition is characterized by intense fear and often appears to be a state somewhere between being asleep and awake. The body is paralyzed, leaving the victim to try to snap themselves out of it or make sounds (which can also be nearly impossible) in the hope of alerting someone else who can snap them out of it.
One indicator of sleep apnea is frequent and loud snoring. While this may be annoying to someone else in the same bed (or the same house!), it’s can also be a very dangerous condition for the person afflicted. Sleep apnea, in addition to snoring, also causes temporary stoppages in breathing. The condition may also increase the risk of conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and weight gain. Treatments are available including the use of equipment that forces the sufferer to breathe as well as medications and surgery.
Excessive need for sleep is the key indicator that someone may be suffering from this affliction. Some sufferers may feel the need to sleep for up to 20 hours per day. Stimulant medications are sometimes used to combat this condition.
RAPID EYE MOVEMENT BEHAVIOR DISORDER
Also known as RBD, this condition can be dangerous to the sufferer or to those who may share the same bed. This disorder prevents the normal cycle of sleep paralysis that prevents us from moving during our dreams and allows people to move freely and physically act out their dreams. Fortunately, this is a treatable condition and the success rate is quite good.
This condition with a fancy-sounding name is just another way of referring to people who talk in their sleep. A fairly common sleep disorder, somniloquy can vary significantly in severity. Some people might utter just a few words during the course of the night while others may talk at great length. Since this condition is not considered dangerous or life-threatening, no real treatment has been developed for it, although wearing a mouthguard is sometimes practised to help control it.
Potentially a very disruptive and potentially dangerous condition, narcolepsy is characterized by the sufferer’s tendency to fall asleep suddenly and without warning. Oftentimes, people with narcolepsy pass from a wakeful state to REM sleep in a matter of seconds. In some people, it can be triggered by intense emotional responses. Researchers are still not certain of the cause, but treatment using stimulant and anti-depressant medications are sometimes used.
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