7 intriguing sleep disorders
Dr. Robert Rosenberg of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine lists some of the most intriguing sleep disorders affecting millions in the United States.
Sleep disorders affect adults and children in the form of sleepwalking, eating, talking, REM disorder and sleep apnea. Often, people who suffer from one or more of these disorders don’t know of the problem until a parent or partner notices the behavior. According to Dr. Rosenberg, lack of sleep eventually leads to a host of health problems, including insulin resistance, hypertension, cardiac problems, neuro-degenerative disorders and other issues. Sleep is restorative - everything slows down and lets your body restore. REM sleep helps in emotional processing and memory where as deep sleep helps with doing better in tests. When you suffer from a sleeping disorder, the body is no longer getting that much needed restorative state.
Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep is often referred to as emotional or dream sleep. On the “Sexsomnia and other Sleeping Disorders” episode, Dr. Rosenberg said we spend 20 percent of our sleep dreaming in a paralyzed state. In that state, most people don’t act our their dreams.
REM Disorder is when people literally act out their dreams. While most people literally become paralyzed when they fall asleep, people with this disorder become completely uninhibited, they have been known to hurt themselves and their partners. It's reported that many of tose who have this are passive people in their daily life and can be very embarrassed about having such violent behaviors.
Sexsomnia is when you exhibit sex behaviors during sleep. It can be intercourse or masturbation. It has been used as a defense in molestation and assault cases.
SLEEP-RELATED EATING DISORDERS
Sleep-related eating disorders are when the patient eats while sleeping, sometimes bizarre food options or combination of foods. The biggest dangerous is the threat of leaving on the stove or other appliances, increasing the risk for fire.
Patients suffering from sleep apnea actually stop breathing during the night. Common in obese patients, sleep apnea affects airways when they constrict and close up. Sleep apnea has been known to bring upon diabetes as well as stroke and heart attack. Obesity is often related to sleep issues with 40% of obese patients suffering from sleep apnea.
Narcolepsy is classified as a chronic neurological disorder in which the brain does not regulate sleep-wake cycles and causes someone to suddenly fall asleep during activities such as driving or sitting in a classroom.
Cataplexy is usually a symptom of narcolepsy in which the muscles collapse. Usually brought on by strong emotion, motor skills are paralyzed, causing someone to fall. Dr. Rosenbeg describes cataplexy as an “intrusion of REM sleep into wakefulness. You lose the boundary between wakefulness and REM.” The main cause is the lack of a chemical in the brain called orexin, a neurotransmitter that regulates arousal, wakefulness and appetite. He says about 75 percent of narcoleptics suffer from this.
TREATING SLEEPING DISORDERS
Dr. Rosenberg says most medical doctors do not know how to treat their patients with sleep issues. His recommendation is to see a sleep medicine specialist who deals with cognitive therapy.