WHAT IS SLEEP PARALYSIS?

People with narcolepsy often experience a temporary inability to move or speak while falling asleep or upon waking. These episodes are usually brief — lasting one or two minutes — but can be frightening. You may be aware of the condition and have no difficulty recalling it afterward, even if you had no control over what was happening to you.
This sleep paralysis mimics the type of temporary paralysis that normally occurs during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the period of sleep during which most dreaming occurs. This temporary immobility during REM sleep may prevent your body from acting out dream activity.
Not everyone with sleep paralysis has narcolepsy, however. Many people without narcolepsy experience some episodes of sleep paralysis, especially in young adulthood.
Although there is no cure for narcolepsy, the condition can usually be managed with medication.
A number of lifestyle adjustments may also help, including:
-taking frequent brief naps during the day
-sticking to a strict bedtime routine where you go to bed at the same time each night
-ensuring you get at least eight hours of sleep every night
-avoiding stressful situations, eating a healthy, balanced diet and taking regular exercise (but not too close to bedtime)






NIGHTMARES: WHAT DO THEY MEAN?

Nightmares are pretty much the same as dreams: they happen when we are asleep, and our subconscious minds conjure them up. Except, what sets nightmares apart from dreams, is the fact that nightmares are never happy experiences. Instead, they are always dark, scary, and maybe even evil in nature. And, nightmares can be so disturbing that they often wake us up suddenly from our sleep. When we do wake up from having a nightmarish dream, we are usually nervous, scared, or shaken up. Our hearts are racing and it’s difficult to fall back asleep.
Children are thought to experience nightmares more than adults do. Children around the ages of three to five are the most susceptible to these nighttime scares. Stressful events such as being left alone, watching a monster movie on television, being in the dark, etc, can easily create fears in a young child. The stress and fears can then manifest into a nightmare.
Nightmares can typically be classified into four categories. That is, there are four usual themes to our nightmares. Either we are being chased, we are falling, we are being attacked, or, we are stuck.
No matter which theme your nightmare follows, experts say that our nightmares are caused by stress in our lives. Experience a traumatic experience or a stress situation, and you’re likely to have a nightmare about it.
The experts also say that nightmares are “red flags” from our subconscious minds. Something is wrong in our lives. Therefore, our subconscious minds are trying to alert us to the fact that we have an unresolved problem. A nightmare is the mind’s way of bringing the problem to our attention so we can resolve it in real life.
So, although these nighttime experiences aren’t pleasant, if you analyze your nightmares, you may be able to find out how to stop from having them. For example, if you have a nightmare where you are falling, it can mean that you’re worried. The falling in your nightmare may represent you inner need to feel free and unburdened. If you have a scary dream where you are trapped, you may feel “trapped” in real life.







Another example is a dream that you can’t move your body in, or that you can only move in slow motion, this could represent your feelings that your life is stuck in a rut. If you can’t speak in your nightmares, this could mean that you feel you can’t express your inner feelings.
One of the most popular nightmares that people have is one in which they are naked or not fully dressed in public. Having nothing to do with sexuality or the love of streaking, these nightmares usually mean we feel unprepared or are “not up to par”. And, we’re afraid that other people will see our inadequacies. Since the others in a dream such as this don’t notice our nakedness, this means that we are looking at ourselves in a way that nobody else is.
So, nightmares are not really terrifying experiences that are conjured up by our subconscious in order to scare the hell out of us. Instead, they are our mind’s way of alerting us to a problem we have. Our subconscious mind is telling us that we have a problem that needs to be resolved. Or, that the steps we are taking to try and end the problem aren’t working. Therefore, we need to rethink the problem and come up with a new way to solve it. Once the problem in your daily life is solved, your nightmares should end.

THOSE HORRIBLE NIGHTMARES!

Nightmares are disturbing dreams associated with negative feelings, such as anxiety or fear. Nightmares are common. They may begin in childhood and tend to decrease after about age 10. However, some people have them as teens or adults, or throughout their lives.
Until age 13, boys and girls have nightmares in equal numbers. At age 13, nightmares become more prevalent in girls than boys.
Nightmares seem real, often becoming more disturbing as the dream unfolds. But nightmares usually are nothing to worry about. They may become a problem if you have them frequently and they cause you to fear going to sleep or keep you from sleeping well.
Nightmares are referred to by doctors as parasomnias — undesirable experiences that occur during sleep, usually during the stage of sleep known as rapid eye movement (REM). You’ve had a nightmare if:
-Your dream wakes you
-You feel scared, anxious, angry, sad or disgusted as a result of your dream
-You can think clearly upon awakening, and can recall details of your dream
-Your dream occurs near the end of your sleep time
-Your dream keeps you from falling back to sleep easily
Children’s nightmare content varies with age, typically becoming more complex. While a young child might dream of monsters, an older child might have nightmares about school or difficulties at home.






LACK OF SLEEP MAKES YOU SICK!

Lack of sleep can affect your immune system. Studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as the common cold. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.
During sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you’re under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective cytokines. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don’t get enough sleep.
So, your body needs sleep to fight infectious diseases. Long-term lack of sleep also increases your risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease.
How much sleep do you need to bolster your immune system? The optimal amount of sleep for most adults is seven to eight hours of good sleep each night. Teenagers need nine to 10 hours of sleep. School-aged children may need 10 or more hours of sleep.
But more sleep isn’t always better. For adults, sleeping more than nine to 10 hours a night may result in poor quality of sleep, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep.






CAN YOU DIE FROM SLEEP APNEA?

Sleep apnea is a very serious of a condition and could be fatal. It’s not just about constantly feeling tired or snoring – both things people think they can just ignore and deal with. When you have sleep apnea, you stop breathing when you sleep. Depending on how severe your sleep apnea is, you could stop breathing hundreds of times a night. This disrupts your sleep cycle and prevents you from entering the deep stages of sleep where your body repairs itself.
When your body can’t repair itself, your risk for other life-threatening conditions like stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and others is increased. It can also make you a drowsy driver, putting you at an increased risk for causing an accident and hurting yourself and others.
Sudden cardiac death can also be a consequence of untreated sleep apnea. This could be because those with sleep apnea experience events called nocturnal ischemias, which happen at night while you sleep when your heart doesn’t get enough blood. These events tend to happen when the coronary arteries that supply blood to your heart become blocked or narrowed. Often the heart can get enough blood through these constricted arteries while you are sleeping, but it cannot cope under stressful events like the continued lack of oxygen you experience throughout the night when you suffer from sleep apnea.
Treating sleep apnea could help reduce the risk for these life-threatening conditions, so talk to your doctor about any concerns you are having. Never dismiss feelings of constant fatigue as something you have to deal with by drinking an extra cup of coffee or your snoring as an annoyance your bed partner will learn to live with. Your body is trying to tell you something, so make an appointment to speak with your doctor.






Sleep Terror Disorders

Also called “night terrors”, these episodes are characterized by extreme terror and a temporary inability to attain full consciousness. The person may abruptly exhibit behaviors of fear, panic, confusion, or an apparent desire to escape. There is no response to soothing from others. They may experience gasping, moaning or screaming. However, the person is not fully awake, and once the episode passes, often returns to normal sleep without ever fully waking up. In most cases, there is no recollection of the episode in the morning.
Like sleepwalking, night terror episodes usually occur during NREM delta (slow wave) sleep. They are most likely to occur during the first part of the night. The timing of the events helps differentiate the episodes from nightmares, which occur during the last third of the sleep period.
While sleep terrors are more common in children, they can occur at any age. Research has shown that a predisposition to night terrors may be hereditary. Emotional stress during the day, fatigue or an irregular routine are thought to trigger episodes. Ensuring a child has the proper amount of sleep, as well as addressing any daytime stresses, will help reduce terrors.






Signs of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

The signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apneas overlap, sometimes making the type of sleep apnea more difficult to determine. The most common signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apneas include:
-Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
-Loud snoring, which is usually more prominent in obstructive sleep apnea
-Episodes of breathing cessation during sleep witnessed by another person
-Abrupt awakenings accompanied by shortness of breath, which more likely indicates central sleep apnea
-Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat
-Morning headache
-Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
-Attention problems






Can you Die from Sleep Apnea?

Apnea is defined as a cessation of oronasal airflow of at least 10 seconds in duration. When it occurs 30 or more times during a 7-hour period of nocturnal sleep, it is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and requires immediate intervention to prevent it from becoming life-threatening.
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissue in a person’s throat repeatedly collapses and blocks the airway during sleep. These partial reductions and complete pauses in breathing last from ten seconds to one minute and can happen hundreds of times a night. Most people with sleep apnea snore loudly with periods of silence when airflow is reduced or blocked. They often make choking, snorting or gasping sounds when the airway reopens. The sleep disorder worsens with age and weight gain.
Common signs of sleep apnea
• chronic daytime sleepiness
• restless sleep
• loud snoring
• periodic stoppage of breathing
• waking from sleep gasping for breath
• difficulty concentrating
• morning headaches

Diagnosis
Only a physician can diagnose sleep apnea. The diagnostic test used is an overnight sleep study called a polysomnogram (PSG). This test gives detailed information on brain and muscle activity during sleep as well as the number of partial and complete pauses in breathing. Once a diagnosis of sleep apnea has been made, your physician will discuss your treatment options.






Is it just Snoring or is it Sleep Apnea?

Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, and not everyone who has sleep apnea snores. So how do you tell the difference between normal snoring and a more serious case of sleep apnea?
The biggest telltale sign is how you feel during the day. Normal snoring doesn’t interfere with the quality of your sleep as much as sleep apnea does, so you’re less likely to suffer from extreme fatigue and sleepiness during the day.
Even if you don’t have sleep apnea, a snoring problem can get in the way of your bed partner’s rest and affect your own sleep quality and health. But there are plenty of tips and treatments that can help.
The following strategies can help you decipher the symptoms:
Keep a sleep diary – Record how many hours you’re spending in bed, any nighttime awakenings, and whether you feel refreshed in the morning. Ask your sleep partner to keep track of your snoring, including how loud and frequent it is. Also ask him or her to note any gasping, choking, or other unusual sounds.
Record yourself sleeping – Taking a video or audio recording of yourself while you sleep can be very informative and revealing. You can use a sound-activated audio recorder, a video camera, or software that turns your computer into a recorder.






The Benefits of Sleep

Every 90 minutes, a normal sleeper cycles between two major categories of sleep — although the length of time spent in one or the other changes as sleep progresses.
During “quiet” sleep, a person progresses through four stages of increasingly deep sleep. Body temperature drops, muscles relax, and heart rate and breathing slow. The deepest stage of quiet sleep produces physiological changes that help boost immune system functioning.
The other sleep category, REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, is the period when people dream. Body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing increase to levels measured when people are awake. Studies report that REM sleep enhances learning and memory, and contributes to emotional health — in complex ways.
Although scientists are still trying to tease apart all the mechanisms, they’ve discovered that sleep disruption — which affects levels of neurotransmitters and stress hormones, among other things — wreaks havoc in the brain, impairing thinking and emotional regulation. In this way, insomnia may amplify the effects of psychiatric disorders, and vice versa.