Nightmare Disorder – Unless you’re the single luckiest person alive today, you’ve had a nightmare before. They aren’t pleasant. But for people with this sleep disorder, they are much more than an infrequent annoyance. They’re a very real part of every night’s sleep. This can trigger a fear of sleep and can require therapy or sedatives. This disorder is thought to be caused by stress, sleep loss, and certain medication.
Night Terrors–The difference between this disorder and the previous one is very small, but significant. Night Terrors occur during non-REM sleep, as opposed to nightmares which only occur during the REM stage. Night terrors can cause a person to sit, stand, or walk around without being conscious, and the person suffering from the terrors will usually scream while in this state. Night terrors typically affect children, and in most cases they will fade with age.
Sleepwalking–Sleepwalking is an old classic. Somnambulists have been the subject of much study and much speculation, and yet no one is quite sure what causes them to stroll. Unlike you see in the movies, sleepwalkers don’t usually act like a zombie or mummy. More often than not, they walk at the same pace and with the same confidence that they would if they were awake. And contrary to popular belief it is not going to hurt them if you wake up a sleepwalker; in fact, it may be more dangerous to them to let them continue, since falling is a big risk.
Sleep Eating–This is a bit of a continuation of sleepwalking. Some people are not content to wander around their homes, instead cracking open the fridge and eating whatever they want. This activity can be pretty dangerous for them, however, as people who suffer from this disorder have been known to use the stove and chop ingredients. Not much is known about what causes this disorder, but studies have found that it can be treated with medication.
Hypnagogic Hallucinations – These hallucinations usually come during the transition from wakefulness to sleep. Hallucinations from sleep to wakefulness are called hypnopompic, and follow the same patterns. Usually these hallucinations are visual, but auditory hallucinations sometimes accompany them, as well as the feeling that something “isn’t right.” Common hallucinations include animals scurrying across the floor or bugs crawling up the walls.
If you’ve enjoyed learning about these disorders, make sure you check back for part 2, coming soon!