Sleep is supposed to be relaxing right? you lay down on your lovely white sheets, pull the covers up around us and snuggle aboard the snooze train to Sleepytown. Well, that’s how it is supposed to work at least!
Unfortunately an increasing amount of individuals seem to be struggling to get the shuteye they need. Sleep deprivation is impacting more and more individuals than ever. In fact, your inability to sleep the night through has got so bad that the Centre for Disease Control has declared sleep disorders a public health epidemic. Yikes!
It’s reported that upto 40 million Americans suffer from some form of long-term sleep disorder. The majority of these fall into the category of what you could call ‘normal’ sleep ailments, things like excessive snoring, sleep apnea and insomnia. While these conditions can have a very real impact on your health and can in some cases be fatal, they aren’t what we would call exotic.
There are however some sleep disorders however which definitely earn the title of seriously weird. Below is a brief rundown of four of the the strangest sleep disorders on the planet.
Sleeping Beauty Syndrome
The fantastically named Sleeping Beauty Syndrome, also known as Kleine-Levin Syndrome (KLS), is a rare and complex neurological disorder that seems to strike mainly adolescent males.
The condition is cyclical in nature and bouts can last for days or in some cases months. Symptoms include the patient becoming increasingly drowsy and then falling into prolonged periods of deep sleep known as hypersomnolence, waking only to eat or visit the bathroom.
So strong is the desire to sleep that patients can spend over 20 hours a day curled up in bed. When they do wake they exhibit uncharacteristic behaviour such as a desire to eat vast amounts of food, hallucinations and even an overactive and uninhibited sex drive.
I know what you’re thinking and no, that doesn’t sound like every teenage boy you know. It’s a little more extreme!
Like a number of the disorders on our list, once the episode is over the sleeper has little to no recollection of what occurred apart from a general sense of disorientation and confusion. Not quite as happy an ending as the Disney film of the same name!
Sexomnia falls into a category of disorders known as parasomnias, alongside sleepwalking and sleep talking. Parasomnias involve a range of unusual behaviours and body movements that occur while the individual is a dissociated sleep state. Usually there is very little to zero memory of the events that occured in the night.
As you may have guessed from the name, sexomnia invovles sex, or at least sexual acts. Sufferers with the condition have been known to engage in sexual acts with others, often aggressive in nature with little memory of them occurring the morning after. This can include masturbation, groping, and in the worst cases even rape.
Sexomnia has a controversial history in court, having been used more than once as argument for the defence in rape cases. One case in 2014 saw a Swedish man accused of sexual assault acquitted after the defence proved he had a history of sexomnia. Thankfully sexnomia is a very rare condition.
Exploding Head Syndrome
About as dramatic a name as you could imagine but don’t worry sufferers head’s don’t actually explode – it just sounds like it!
Sufferers of Exploding Head Syndrome preserve loud noises, often explosion-like in nature, in their head when transitioning into or out of sleep. This sensation doesn’t last very long and generally isn’t painful for the individuals rather just very very frightening.
It isn’t just explosions that sufferers experience during a bout, a whole range of equally startling noises have been reported too. Anything from, fireworks, shouting, thunder claps and gunshots, to doors being slammed and intense electrical static. How’s that for waking up with a bang!
Restless Leg Syndrome
While still rare, RLS is probably the most common disorder on our list but the one with the funniest name so we thought we’d include it anyway. Although for sufferers, the condition is no laughing matter.
Individuals with the disorder have a strong and uncontrollable desire to repeatedly move their legs when trying to fall asleep. The need to move their lower extremities is such that they perceive their legs to tingle, prickle, itch or even burn if they don’t. Blimey!
The condition obviously makes dropping to sleep very difficult and can lead to sufferers delaying bedtime again and again, with the obvious loss of rest this brings becoming something of a problem. Daytime sleepiness, fatigue and ultimately depression can be a consequence.
Well, there you have it sleep fans. Next time your partner starts to snore try not to get too irritating, instead think of this list and remind yourself, it could be a lot, lot worse!