Five sleep disorders you've never heard of that could be keeping you awake.

Sleep isn’t easy for everyone.

Sometimes sleep issues go way beyond good old sleep deprivation caused by young children or an awesome social life. Not to mention the poor person trying to sleep next you bearing the brunt of your sleep issues.

Sometimes sleeping issues are medical. Frustratingly the treatment usually involves maintaining a regular sleeping pattern (or hiring a night nurse or waiting for your children to grow). Other times you need to enter sleep treatment where your sleep is monitored to figure out why you are waking up exhausted.

You don’t have to have insomnia or sleep apnoea to be a problem sleeper. You could have a silent sleep disorder. One you haven’t even heard about yet.

Have a look:

1. Sleep Paralysis

At first my mum didn’t believe me.

Each afternoon I’d take a nap on the lounge in front of the TV. I was working a job with odd hours and struggling to stay awake until bedtime. At first it helped. Then the sleep paralysis began.

I’d wake up but be unable to move. My brain was awake, my ears were awake, sometimes even my eyes were awake but for the life of me I could not move a muscle.

It was like being frozen.

From the outside it might have looked like I was sleeping peacefully or even starring at the TV. Inside though I was panicking, willing my arm, my leg, anything to move.

Sleep Paralysis often happens when someone has an irregular sleep schedule. Image: Trainwreck, Universal Pictures

I could hear everything that was going on around me, I just couldn't move.

Sometimes I'd fall back asleep and then wake up and be able to move. Other times my body would eventually unlock itself and I'd feel sweet relief at being released from the terror.

I became scarred to sleep in case it happened again and when my mum tried to urge me to take a nap when I was tired and cranky I tried to explain what had been happening. She didn't believe me.


"You were probably just dreaming," she said. Then I repeated to her entire conversations I'd overheard between her and my sister while I had been supposedly sleeping. Then she believed me.

I ended up having to quit that job for the sake of my health and my sleep returned to normal.

I found out a lot about Sleep Paralysis here.

2. Hypnagogic Jerks

You know those jumps and twitches that happen as you nod off? They are known as Hypnic Jerks. Sometimes they are coupled with a sensation of falling.

Apparently it's just a by-product of your nervous system relaxing as you fall asleep.

The annoying thing is that these can jolt you awake and make it even harder to fall asleep. You have to wait for your heart to stop feeling as though it is jumping out of your chest.

I remember I used to be prone to them when my babies were little and once when I feel asleep feeding my baby I jerked awake so severely that I woke him up and he started screaming. Poor little guy.

It can be a bit of a shock and it's people with irregular sleep schedules who are most prone to them. The treatment? A regular sleep schedule.

Find out more about Hypnic Jerk here.

If you do suffer from sleeping issue spare a thought for Medium's Allison Dubois (and her poor husband). The spirits often jolted her awake. How did she ever get any rest? Article continues after this video.

3. Night Terrors

If you've ever woken at night in great fear and not been able to reason yourself out of that fear, you've suffered from a Night Terror. Normally associated with babies and toddlers, Night Terrors can be suffered by people of any age.

Some people who suffer from Night Terrors will also sleepwalk. My friend told me a story about how his seven-year-old girl used to sleepwalk to his side of the bed and stand there starring at him and he'd wake up and get a major fright. He'd then have to walk her back to bed and she'd be none the wiser.

One man suffered from Night Terrors so badly he needed to enter sleep treatment and video footage showed his eyes opening, his body going rigid as he focused on some unseen thing in complete horror.


You can read up on Night Terrors here.

4. Exploding Head Syndrome

Also known as Parasomnia, Exploding Head Syndrome happens when people imagine a sudden loud noise when they fall asleep.

It can sound as though a violent explosion has gone off in your head and can cause wakefulness during the night.

Sometimes it is the garbage truck. Sometimes it is Exploding Head Sydnrome.

Some patients have described it as sounding like a painless bang, a clash of cymbals or a bomb exploding and sometimes you'll also see a flash of light.

There's nothing worse than having a partner with a sleeping disorder. Image: Sex and the City 2, Warner Bros. Pictures

Normally the condition passes in a few weeks or months.

It is thought this disorder is caused by stress and worry.

Learn more about Exploding Head Syndrome here.

5. REM Sleep Disorder

If you've ever yelled at your partner in the middle of the night or hit them without any knowledge, you may have suffered from REM Sleep Disorder.

This often happens when you are having a dream or nightmare and are acting it out. These dreams and nightmares will be particularly vivid and sometimes violent. People who suffer from incidents of this won't remember doing anything. They may be able to recall the dream or nightmare though, in great detail.

Patients who have suffered from REM Sleep Disorder have shouted, sworn, flailed, grabbed, punched, kicked, jumped and leaped.

One man who dreamed he was being chased got out of bed and started running before waking up and wondering what on earth was going on.

You can read more about REM Sleep Disorder here.

Tags: relationships , health , sleep-2
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