Mysterious sleep disorders

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Posted: Wednesday, June 11, 2014 4:00 pm

LOS ANGELES (Ivanhoe Newswire) – At least 40 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders each year. Another 20-million experience occasional sleeping problems. Some disorders can disrupt your sleep and your life.

As hair icons for companies like L’Oreal and Paul Mitchell, John and Suzanne Chadwick have traveled the world together.

“It’s been quite a journey,” Suzanne told Ivanhoe.

However, their biggest adventures happened at night, while John slept. For years, he acted out his dreams by punching, kicking, and even biting.

“One night, he bit me, and that, the bite mark lasted for two days,” Suzanne explained.

It got so bad that he would tie himself to the bed with this contraption.

“You think, ‘what in the hell’s going to happen to me?’”, John told Ivanhoe. “What have I got?”

John had REM sleep behavior disorder, or RBD. It causes violent episodes and puts patients at risk for other problems. Within 10 years, up to 80 percent may develop Parkinson’s and dementia.

“It’s kind of a window into an evolving neurodegenerative disease,” Alon Avidan, MD, MPH,

Professor of Neurology, UCLA Sleep Disorders Center Director, told Ivanhoe.

Another condition is sleep eating. It affects up to 1 million adults. People with the disorder prepare and consume meals while they are sleeping.

“We’ve heard of patients preparing a cat food sandwich or eating directly out of a jar of mayonnaise,” Dr. Avidan explained.

For RBD and sleep eating, the drug clonazepam and melatonin can help.

John’s meds have helped. He went from five extreme episodes a week to one mild event a month. Now, nothing holds him back day or night.

Some antidepressants can trigger r-b-d. Caffeine and alcohol consumption can also worsen the condition.

Dr. Avidan said even just one violent episode of RBD is cause for concern.

Another condition, restless legs syndrome, affects up to 10 percent of people.

(Source: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/brain_basics/understanding_sleep.htm)


BACKGROUND: Until the 1950s, most people thought of sleep as a passive, dormant part of our lives. We now know that our brains are very active during sleep. Moreover, sleep affects our daily functioning and our physical and mental health in many ways that we are just starting to understand. Nerve-signaling chemicals called neurotransmitters control if we are asleep or awake by acting on different groups of nerve cells, or neurons, in the brain. Neurons in the brainstem, which connects the brain with the spinal cord, produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine that keep some parts of the brain active while we are awake. Other neurons at the base of the brain begin signaling when we fall asleep. These neurons appear to "switch off" the signals that keep us awake. Research also suggests that a chemical called adenosine builds up in our blood while we are awake and causes drowsiness. This chemical gradually breaks down while we sleep. (Source: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/brain_basics/understanding_sleep.htm)

SLEEP DISORDERS: At least 40 million Americans suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders each year, and an additional 20 million experience occasional sleeping problems.

• REM Sleep Behavior Disorder: Normal sleep has 2 states: non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. During REM sleep, rapid eye movements occur, breathing becomes irregular, blood pressure rises, and there is a loss of muscle tone (paralysis). However, the brain is highly active. REM sleep is usually associated with dreaming. REM sleep accounts for 20%-25% of the sleep period. In a person with REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD), the paralysis that normally occurs during REM sleep is incomplete, allowing the person to "act out" his or her dreams. RBD is characterized by the acting out of dreams that are vivid, intense, and violent.

• Sleep Eating: Sleep-related eating disorder is characterized by abnormal eating patterns during the night. People with this disorder eat while asleep. They often walk into the kitchen and prepare food without a recollection for having done so.

• Restless legs syndrome: Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder characterized by throbbing, pulling, creeping, or other unpleasant sensations in the legs and an uncontrollable, and sometimes overwhelming, urge to move them. Symptoms occur primarily at night when a person is relaxing or at rest and can increase in severity during the night. Moving the legs relieves the discomfort. (Source: webmd.com and clevelandlcinic.org and www.ninds.nih.gov)

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