It's Thursday and you know what that means- It's time for a post from this month's Zeo Featured Blogger! n their final post, REM Sleep Labs discusses a few sleep disorder of which you may not yet heard. Enjoy!
Along with more common place sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, are unusual sleep issues that could form the basis of a fairytale. As a matter of fact, it’s quite possible the story of Rip Van Winkle, the old man who fell asleep for 20 years, was based on Kleine-Levin Syndrome. While nobody can be certain of it, there are certainly a number of sleep disorders that just seem too strange to be true. The following are just 3 of these peculiar disorders.
Parasomnias are sleep disorders that make you speak, move or otherwise behave in an undesirable way while you experience certain stages of sleep or while you are transitioning between wake and sleep. They affect perception and psychology during sleep, rather than sleep quality or sleep timing. Primary parasomnias, which exclude secondary parasomnias such as acid reflux and arrhythmias which still can occur during sleep, can include disorders ranging from night terrors to sleepwalking.
While a singular cause of parasomnias has yet to be determined, many specialists have made connections between such disorders and abnormal functionality of the body’s various systems. For example, muscle problems may trigger motor function during REM sleep, when the body is supposed to be temporarily paralyzed. Other conditions, such as sleep deprivation and whether certain medications are being used on a regular basis, may also affect a person’s likelihood of developing a parasomnia. Depending on the underlying cause of your specific parasomnia, a sleep doctor will be able to explore various forms of treatment to help you.
Rather than a parasomnia that makes people act strangely during sleep, non-24-hour sleep-wake syndrome is a dyssomnia disorder that affects sleep patterns and scheduling. People with non-24-hour sleep-wake syndrome lack a 24-hour circadian rhythm, or biological clock. Instead, they experience delayed or advanced sleep patterns by adhering to, say, 27-hour cycle or even a 72-hour cycle. One case documented described a person who would sleep for 48 hours and then stay awake for 24. Erratic sleep patterns in patients with a circadian rhythm disorder can have a huge effect of lifestyle—in fact, most people with non-24-hour sleep-wake syndrome are unable to go to school or keep regular 9 to 5 jobs. Sometimes these effects lead to worsened medical conditions such as stress and depression.
Non-24-hour sleep-wake syndrome is very rare in the average sleeper. But among the blind, the condition is actually quite common. While the biological clock of a blind person may be perfectly fine, the lack of light signals available to the body makes it very easy for the clock to become unbalanced. In order to reset a biological clock, sleep doctors tend to rely heavily on fixed sleep schedules, supplemented by natural sleep aids such as melatonin. Over time, practicing a regular sleep-wake schedule has been shown to be quite effective.
Kleine-Levin syndrome is an extremely rare sleep disorder characterized by too much sleep. Episodes of Kleine-Levin syndrome can induce uninterrupted sleep for as many as 20 hours a day. An episode is usually preceded by flu-like symptoms which come on suddenly. After the episode, the sleeper may have a hard time even remembering what had occurred. The condition may cause symptoms such as stress and depression, but there is little evidence suggesting that the relationship works the other way around. Factors that have been suggested to cause Kleine-Levin syndrome have included a dysfunctional hypothalamus or thalamus.
Kleine-Levin syndrome is not well researched, but sleep doctors have noted that it affects primarily adolescent male patients. Medications sometimes used to help sleepiness have side effects that make the user feel irritable, so treatment in this form is usually not recommended. Most people who suffer from Kleine-Levin syndrome simply learn to cope with it until the recurrence rate and intensity of the symptoms eventually fade over an average of 8 – 12 years. But until sleep doctors find out more about the condition, Kleine-Levin syndrome remains a mystery to us all.
REM Sleep Labs is an accredited sleep testing center. Visit an Orange County Los Angeles, or San Diego Sleep Center.