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Five Little Known Sleep Disorders

July 19, 2013

We have all heard of sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea, sleep walking and grinding teeth, but how about ones like hypersomnia or even exploding head syndrome (yes this is a real sleep disorder)? Read on to learn more about these and a few other little known sleep disorders that people from around the globe suffer from. 

5. Hypersomnia 

This VERY rare sleep disorder is believed to affect only about 200 people in the world today. It is a sleep disorder that is characterised by periods of severe sleepiness. These periods can last up to 18 hours a day and can go on for days and even last for weeks on end. People who suffer from it generally have about 10 attacks per year, with each attack being proceeded by flu like symptoms and long-lasting headaches. 

4. REM-Sleep Behaviour Disorder (RBD) 

REM-Sleep Behaviour Disorder (RBD) is classified as a parasomnia sleep disorder. These parasomnia sleep disorders are characterised by undesired events occurring while a person is asleep. This sleep disorder, although not well-known, is one of the more common ones on this list and causes people to act out extremely vivid dream while sleeping. RBD however must not be confused with sleepwalking, sleep terrors or sleep-talking. RBD is marked by swearing, shouting, flailing, kicking, and doing actions as if someone is fighting. If not treated RBD can get worse over time and can result in the person suffering from RBD, or those around them, being hurt. 

3. Exploding Head Syndrome 

Believe it or not, but this is an actual sleeping disorder that is also classified as a parasomnia disorder. Sufferers hear a loud noise that is not actually there, just before falling asleep. Exploding head syndrome often occurs while waking up in the middle of the night, with the sound the sufferer hearing being likened to a bomb going off. These sounds are extremely distressful to the sufferer and always result in disturbed sleep. 

2. Sleep Paralysis

This sleep disorder is exactly what the name implies; it is the loss of one’s ability to move the body when falling asleep or when waking up from sleep. This sleeping disorder is created by the body not reacting correctly to atonia. Atonia is when the body is told to relax and be still and occurs in people while asleep. People’s bodies who suffer from sleep paralysis however continue to be affected by atonia even after they awake. In most cases, people who suffer from sleep paralysis cannot move or even speak, but are fully aware of what is going on.

1. Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Syndrome 

The non-24-hour sleep-wake syndrome is one of the rarest sleep disorders ever encountered by medical sleep science. It is characterised by a disturbance in the natural circadian rhythm of the body which means that the sufferers body is not attuned to the normal 24 hour day sleep / wake period. In fact, severe cases of this disorder have seen sufferers live to a 72 hour circadian cycle that consists of 48 hours awake.  Generally people with the disorder sleep for about 2 hours longer compared to a normal wake time when they do sleep. 

Want to know more? Then look out for next month’s post on 5 more sleep disorders explained. 

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