By Hellen Nanzia
Sleep is the one thing we all want, but never get enough of no matter how long we sleep for.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a lack of sleep has been linked to serious health problems including hypertension, depression, obesity and diabetes to name but a few.
CDC analyzed data from a nationwide telephone health survey and found that nearly 40 percent of respondents reported unintentionally falling asleep during the day at least once in the preceding month.
Sometimes, a lack of sleep can be attributed to not enough time to sleep, or too much stress, or snoring or sleep apnea. But it goes deeper than that for many.
An estimated 50-70 million adults in America have a straight-up “sleep or wakefulness” disorder, according to the CDC. The Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine identifies more than 100 such disorders. Some are downright scary.
Also called “sleep terrors,” these are included in a group of disorders known as parasomnias. According to the researchers at Stanford, they involve “abnormal behaviors,” and can occur at any age.
Night terrors are episodes of extreme terror while asleep. People, who suffer from night terrors thrash about, moan, scream — all fully unconscious. Often a person experiencing night terrors drifts back into regular sleep and doesn’t remember anything upon waking. According to the Stanford researchers, these episodes usually occur early in the night.
Exploding head syndrome
A loud noise can disrupt your attempt to sleep, and it ends up feeling like your head is about to burst apart.
Researchers at Washington State recently detailed a surprisingly high percentage of young people — around 18 percent — who have been affected by this psychological phenomenon. It can significantly alter sleep and negatively impact lives, the study found.
Exploding head syndrome can lead to another sleep disorder, too, known as isolated sleep paralysis.
Isolated sleep paralysis
In deepest sleep, the body is at rest, largely unresponsive to the brain. A sudden interruption of that sleep can lead to the mind waking but the body remaining at rest — a temporary paralysis, lasting from several seconds to several minutes. When you’re awake and you can’t move, a good deal of panic also can set in.
Regular sleep paralysis (not the isolated kind) is a type of narcolepsy, often characterized by excessive sleepiness during the day that is not caused by problems sleeping at night. People with narcolepsy often fall quickly, deeply into sleep. Many experience cataplexy, ‘suddenly’ feeling paralyzed or weak in the head, legs or other body parts especially after excitement or laughing.
Kleine-Levin Syndrome (KLS)
People with Kleine-Levin Syndrome will sleep for long stretches of time, hence the condition’s other name: Sleeping Beauty Syndrome.
This condition, informally known as Sleeping Beauty Syndrome, is characterized by bouts of excessive sleeping — most of the day and night — and can last from a few days to several weeks. When people with KLS are awake during a bout, they’re often confused, super-hungry and can have uninhibited hyper sexuality.
In between bouts, though, people with KLS are asymptomatic, sleeping and waking normally. The condition most often strikes teens.
Circadian rhythm disorders
Your body is ready to sleep, but your brain is really into those late-night reruns.
We’ve all had a little bit of Circadian rhythm disorder at one time or another.
This can be caused by something as simple as going to bed a little too late, which makes you late getting up; working that overnight shift, which has you wide awake at 3 a.m. even when you’re not working the overnight any more; or simple long-distance travelling issues.
The National Health Interview Survey says that nearly 30 percent of adults report an average of six hours or less of sleep per day. Considering adults need at least 7-8 hours a night, (according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) a lot of sleepy people are stumbling around.