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Sleep is supposed to be a time of peace and relaxation. Most of us drift from our waking lives into predictable cycles of deep, non-REM sleep, followed by dream-filled rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep. But when the boundaries of these three phases of arousal get fuzzy, sleep can be downright scary. In fact, some sleep disorders seem more at home in horror films than in your bedroom.
From a syndrome that keeps a person drowsy all day and night to one that may keep you screaming through your snoozes, inside you'll find some of the spookiest syndromes of the night.
Sleeping beauty syndromeSlide 2 of 23
Sleeping beauty syndrome
This sleep story does not have a fairy tale ending. Called Kleine-Levin Syndrome (KLS), the rare neurological disorder is linked to excessive amounts of sleep, "spacey" behaviors and demeanor, and confusion. About 70 percent of those affected are teen boys, according to the National Institutes of Health. The syndrome comes in waves, where at the onset a person will sleep most of the day and night, garnering it the name sleeping beauty syndrome; in between such episodes the person seems completely healthy, according to the KLS Foundation. Incidences can last for days, weeks or even months, during which time a person is not only drowsy but when awake they are confused, disoriented and apathetic, with many KLS patients indicating the world seems out of focus; some cases involve uninhibited sex drive.
Though the cause is unknown, some scientists think a malfunction in the hypothalamus, which helps to regulate sleep and body temperature, may play a role, according to WebMD. No treatment is available for the disorder.
Scroll up and click "Next" to learn about Nightmare Disorder . . .Slide 3 of 23
Nightmare disorderSlide 4 of 23
Whether it's running from axe-wielding murderers or showing up naked in the school cafeteria, most of us have been jolted awake by a nightmare at some point. When nightmares move beyond occasional annoyance to near-nightly terror, however, you might have nightmare disorder. People with nightmare disorder often wake in a cold sweat with vivid memories of horrible dreams. Their waking life suffers. They may dread sleep.
Stress and sleep deprivation are major nightmare triggers, as are some medications, according to the American Sleep Association (ASA). In severe cases, counseling or sedative drugs might be necessary to soothe the anxiety underlying the bad dreams. For most of us, though, banishing the nighttime axe-murderer is as easy as taking a relaxing bath and going to bed on time.
Next: SleepwalkingSlide 5 of 23
SleepwalkingSlide 6 of 23
Up to 15 percent of adults occasionally get up and amble around the house in their sleep. In children, the number is even higher. No one knows what makes some sleepers wander, but stress and disturbed sleep are often factors. So is genetics: Close relatives of sleepwalkers are 10 times more likely to sleepwalk than the general population.
You won't see sleepwalkers shuffling around, arms outstretched; many navigate their rooms with ease and are capable of opening doors and moving furniture. And while waking a sleepwalker won't do them any harm, sleepwalking itself can be dangerous. One study published in 2003 in the journal Molecular Psychiatry found that 19 percent of adult sleepwalkers had been hurt during their nocturnal forays. Falling is the biggest danger, so if you've got a sleepwalker in your house, experts recommend you move the electrical cords and steer your somnambulist away from stairs.
Next: Exploding head syndrome?!Slide 7 of 23
Exploding head syndromeSlide 8 of 23