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Sleeping Habits Reveal Ailments

Posted March. 12, 2007 07:18,   


REM sleep disorder-

Some people wake up to find their bed sheets crumpled up. They also often sleep alone, because of their tendency to kick the person next to them in their sleep. This is a symptom of PLMS (periodic leg movements during sleep).

If a patient is suffering from PLMS, the person moves their arms and legs regularly while asleep. This happens when the dopamine system, which is a neurotransmitter in the brain, loses its balance. Sufferers of this symptom are likely to kick violently in their sleep without knowing it. They do not get a good night’s sleep, so they feel tired during the day. This symptom often beleaguers the elderly, but can affect those who are genetically prone to the symptom as early as in their thirties. The symptom can be treated through medicine and exercise like walking.

Patients who go so far as to hitting and kicking those next to them during sleep may be suffering from “REM Sleep Behavior Disorder.” These patients act out what they experience in their dreams. Most people’s muscles are frozen while they dream during the REM cycle, but the muscles of patients suffering from REM Sleep Behavior Disorder do not.

“People who suffer from REM Sleep Behavior Disorder are five to seven times more prone to suffer from senility or Parkinson’s disease,” said Professor Cho Yong-won of Dong San Hospital of Keimyung University. “It is usually found in people over 50 years old and can be treated with medicine.”

Leg massages may relieve RLS-

Some people rest their legs on the person next to them while they sleep. People with this symptom will sleep better with a cushion between their legs. “Restless Legs Syndrome” (RLS) sufferers do this because they feel discomfort in their legs. They feel as if a bug is crawling on their legs, as if an electrical current is running in their legs, or as if someone is pulling on their legs. This symptom is observed in people over 50 years old. It can be hereditary. This symptom is also treatable with medicine. Massaging the calf of the leg with warm water or a warm towel may help.

Child sleep disorders get better after age 15-

If a child wakes up in the middle of the night and looks around, he or she has “No-REM Sleep Disorder” – meaning that he or she does not dream in his sleep. This is because the brain nerves are not fully developed. The symptoms go away by the time the child reaches 15. The child may shout and talk while asleep. If the symptoms get serious, they may even walk in their sleep.

“Children, unlike adults, may have trouble sleeping under these symptoms,” said Professor Cho. “The adult must put the children to bed at the appropriate time and should shield them from too much stress.” It is best to encourage children to try to sleep, instead of pressuring them to.

If you do not feel comfortable sleeping upright-

People who feel comfortable sleeping sideways, should change their ways for the sake of their spines. If you do not feel comfortable sleeping upright, then you might be suffering from “Neuromuscular scoliosis,” or herniation of the intervertebral disk.

“If it hurts to sleep upright, but the pain goes away when you sleep with a pillow under your knees, you might have vertebrae problems,” said Doctor Ko Yong-gon of Yonsei Love Orthopedics.

If you snore while sleeping sideways, you might have sleep apnea. When sleeping upright, your tongue falls back, allowing less room for your airway, and causing you to snore. But if you snore while sleeping sideways, it might be because of sleep apnea.

“If you feel unusually tired and sleepy during the day, you might have sleep apnea,” said Professor Shin of Eulji Hospital. Sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and brain paralysis. It is highly advised that sufferers of sleep apnea visit a nearby sleep expert.