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Weird Sleep Disorders to Worry About While You Fall Asleep

Updated August 21, 2018 6.2k votes 1.4k voters 169.1k views16 items

Are you having trouble sleeping at night? Good, because we have some freaky information for you that's going to make it even more difficult! You see, there are a whole bunch of weird sleep disorders out there, ranging from the comical to the downright deadly, and would like to share them with you. And, obviously, the best time to read about these conditions is before bed, right? 

Now, before you start assuming these are all things like sleep walking, talking in your sleep, or insomnia, let's be clear: a few of these disorders are very rare and can definitely kill you. Some are painful, and some are distressingly life-changing as well. By the end of it all, you'll probably be wishing all these weird sleep conditions were just as minorly annoying and common as sleep talking. 

So, which of these weird sleep conditions did you already know about, and which are brand new nightmare fuel designed purely to make you afraid of closing your eyes? There's only one way to find out. 

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  • This is pretty much like talking in your sleep, the deluxe edition. During REM sleep, which is when most people dream, you might begin to act out various activities in your dream, such as flailing, speaking, or trying to perform tasks. Your movements may sometimes be violent, and your vocalizations might be frightening to those around you, and you might even punch your sleeping partner. In general, this might be pretty harmless (at least to you), but REM sleep behavior disorder is unfortunately tied to Parkinson's disease and Lewy body dementia. In other words, this sleep disorder could be an early warning sign that there's a severe neurological disorder on your horizon. 

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  • Photo: mislav-m / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    Let's imagine you're just settling down to sleep. You're closing your eyes, relaxing, drifting off when suddenly BANG! There's the sound of a loud noise going off in your head and now you're suddenly wide awake. This is commonly known as exploding head syndrome. EHS is defined as the perception of loud noise when falling asleep or waking up, and while it does not cause pain, it can be exceptionally unsettling. Some scientists think it could be linked with temporal lobe seizures, and while antidepressants have been shown to help sometimes, there's no cure. 

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  • This is one you've probably heard of before, as that condition where you fall asleep anywhere, anytime. That's part of it, but narcolepsy is actually a little more distressing than that. Unlike hypersomnia, in which you're sleepy all the time, narcolepsy is characterized by hallucinations, sudden sleep, loss of muscle control, sleep paralysis, and an irregular sleep schedule. There is no cure for the condition, as it is caused by a lack of hypocretin in the brain, but it can be treated to the point where people can have full and normal lives. And luckily, only about 1 in 2,000 people have narcolepsy. 

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  • Photo: Capt Kodak / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

    Though incredibly common, affecting as many as 1 in 5 people, sleep apnea can be a very serious disorder. Sleep apnea is when your breathing repeatedly starts and stops during sleep, which can result in snoring, panic, lack of sleep, morning headaches, and the annoyance of your loved ones. Though that last symptom is less serious than many others, the fact that a person can stop breathing for 10 seconds or longer can be pretty startling and bothersome. There are many factors that can lead to sleep apnea, but in general, i can be treated and managed with the help of CPAP masks, oxygen therapy, or even surgery in extreme cases. 

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