By Stephanie Pappas
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-rapid-eye-movement 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.
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.
Screaming, thrashing, frantically pacing — night terrors earn their name, both for the person experiencing one and for anyone around during the event.
"I am your worst nightmare..." Hollywood's favorite gimmick.
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Sleep-related hallucinations are most common in people with narcolepsy. So while the occasional phantasmic visitation is nothing to worry about, if the hallucinations are accompanied by daytime sleepiness and loss of muscle control when excited or surprised, Kline recommends you see a doctor.
Do you Know...Exploding head syndrome
In Japan forklore,
Akume stands for Japanese for nightmare.
Akumu means "devil dream", an especially disturbing nightmare, spirit, succubus, incubus.
Akuma is the Japanese evil spirit or angelic being, devil, demon, evil genius of dreams in some contexts. It can be used to describe devils from Western culture, as in the sh(j( manga, Akuma no houteishiki, wherein the devils are the familiar (to Western demonologists at least) Astaroth and Beelzebub.
This creatively named disorder occurs during the onset of deep sleep, when the person is suddenly startled awake by a sharp, loud noise.
Even today, some researchers suspect that tales of alien abduction may be explained by episodes of sleep paralysis.
REM behavior disorder
REM behavior disorder occurs most often among older adults, and it can be a symptom of Parkinson's disease, a degenerative neurological disorder.
Nocturnal sleep-related eating disorder
The disorder is poorly understood, but, like sleepwalking, it occurs during non-REM sleep. Drugs that increase dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with reward and pleasure, can help stop the unconscious nighttime snacking, doctors say.
First described in a 1996 case study of seven individuals, sleep sex can range from annoying (loud sexual moans) to dangerous (self-injurious masturbation) to criminal (sexual assault or rape).
Insomnia, the inability to fall or stay asleep, can cause irritability and lack of concentration during the day, and long-term sleep deprivation can be downright dangerous.
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