For most of us, bedtime is bliss. After a long day, nothing is better than unplugging, changing into that favorite threadbare t-shirt, and crawling into bed. Most of us drift easily into normal sleep cycles, beginning into cycles of deep sleep, then into dream-filled REM sleep, and wake up feeling refreshed and alert. But for some, bedtime is nothing less than a nightmare. Read about some of these horrifying sleep disorders and you’ll never take your peaceful shut-eye for granted again.
Sleeping Beauty Syndrome
This sleep disorder, also known as Kleine-Levin Syndrome, usually affects young men at around age 15, and symptoms can last for up to 8 years. During Sleeping Beauty episodes - luckily, the symptoms only strike every six months or so - sufferers of the disorder sleep for up to 23 hours a day for up to 3 consecutive weeks. During their one hour with the waking world, they often exhibit strange and compulsive behaviors, like binge eating, utter confusion, childlike babbling, and hallucinations. Very little has been discovered about the cause of this condition, but it usually linked to a prior infection.
Exploding Head Syndrome
If the name of this condition was truly accurate, it would be more of a death sentence than a condition, but luckily we’re not dealing with real exploding heads here. As they’re falling asleep, sufferers of this syndrome experience a loud explosive sound in their heads and usually see a bright flash of light. It’s completely harmless, but could definitely make the process of falling asleep an unusually distressing and stressful experience.
Sleep-Related Eating Disorder (SRED)
For a few poor souls, no amount of dieting and exercise will be able to get them lean, thanks to this weird disorders. People living with SRED take nightly trips to the kitchen to binge-eat unhealthy foods, and have no memory of the snack the next morning. Sometimes, to their horror, they’ll realize in the morning that their sleeping selves have unusual tastes - sufferers have reported eating bizarre snacks like pure salt and cat food.
Non-24 Sleep-Wake Disorder
People who have this disorder operate on natural rhythm with longer cycles, which pushes their sleep cycle one hour ahead on the clock every night. For a few peaceful days, they’ll operate on the same schedule as everyone else, but over the next few days their bodies will signal bedtime and waking time at later and later hours. This condition is largely prevalent in blind people, who also lack the signals daylight and darkness give to the brain.
Worried You Might Have A Sleep Disorder?
If you’re concerned that something is off, you may want to consider having a polysomnography, or sleep study. During a sleep study, participants stay overnight at a hospital or sleep center and have sensors attached to their skin which can monitor brain waves, the oxygen level of the blood, heart rate, breathing, eye movements, and limb movement. This information allows doctors to monitor your sleep cycles and stages and determine why your sleep is being disrupted - though if you’re suffering from one of the strange conditions listed above, the investigation is likely to go a little deeper!