7 Things that Happen While You Are Sleeping

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Here are some things related to sleep or the lack thereof. Some of these I have experienced myself, and some I may have experienced and don’t know about, since most things that happen while you are sleeping cannot be remembered.

SLEEPWALKING

As well as nighttime wandering, activities may range from sitting up to driving a car. These things happen during deep sleep and sleepwalkers suffer from amnesia when they wake up. Talking in your sleep is part of the same condition. There’s even a condition where people unknowingly have sex during their sleep. If your parents sleepwalk, there’s a good chance you will, too. What triggers sleepwalking can include stress, alcohol, sleeping pills and caffeine.

NARCOLEPSY

Some people have no control over when they fall asleep. Anything can trigger it, from laughter to the telephone ringing. Sufferers can also experience a sudden loss of muscle tone, which can render the person apparently lifeless for up to an hour. Sufferers often inherit their condition, but it can also be caused by changes in the immune system before and after pregnancy, by infections, tumors and head injuries. Researchers in the U.S. investigated the effects of a low-carb diet and found that patients with narcolepsy showed modest improvements in daytime sleepiness when they followed the diet for two months.

SLEEP APNEA

Suffers from this condition (and I am one of them) stop breathing while asleep for ten to thirty seconds at a time, up to four hundred times a night and wake up exhausted. It is due to the upper airway narrowing during sleep. People often don’t know they have sleep apnea, the only giveaways are excessive sleepiness, a headache on awakening and a snoring pattern of grunts and long silences. Narrowing of the airways can be caused by deformity in the neck, reduced muscle tone or too much fat. Although women are prone to this, the typical sufferer is a middle-aged male who is overweight. Losing weight can help. The other alternatives are surgery or using a CPAP machine. You can find out if you have sleep apnea by taking a sleep test. You check into a clinic and spend the night with wires hooked to you and your sleep patterns are monitored by a computer. I took such a sleep test ten years ago. I chose not to have surgery when my test came back showing that I had severe sleep apnea. Instead I began using a CPAP machine. You wear a mask at night connected to a machine that gently blows air into your nose, keeping your throat open and your mouth closed. Although the machine takes some getting used to and is very unattractive, it truly stops the problem. I now find that wearing the mask while sleeping is very relaxing and I wake up feeling great.

SNORING

Snoring can break your sleep and make you tired and irritable in the morning. Snorers (like people with sleep apnea who also snore) have a higher risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and strokes. People snore if their airway is restricted, as air is forced through the mouth reverberating in the throat. The noise is intensified if people drink, smoke, suffer from colds and allergies or are overweight. Chip straps can be worn to support the bottom lip, and this encourages nasal breathing. Sleeping on your side can help (surely you’ve heard about people sewing a tennis ball into a t-shirt so they won’t sleep on their backs). People with sleep apnea always snore, so it’s better to check out first whether you have sleep apnea. If not, then try some of the products available just for snoring.

NIGHT TERRORS

Often confused with nightmares, night terrors are more of an oppressive, terrifying feeling than a bad dream. People thrash about and this usually happens in the first few hours of sleep. Hallucinations where people see or hear things that aren’t there as they’re dropping off to sleep can also be very frightening. What causes these conditions is not really known. They could be linked to stress and excess worrying about problems. Night terrors are common in children under the age of ten and more frequent with boys. Sometimes this condition can run in families.

EATING

Some people prepare and eat food while asleep. This rare condition leads to binge eating mainly on high calorie, high fat foods. Most people have no memory of eating while sleeping in the morning, but they most surely find a messy kitchen and wonder how it got that way overnight. This condition seems to be more common in young women, especially those with an eating disorder. If dieting during the day, their resolve is weakened while sleeping. Stress, anxiety, depression and alcohol can be triggers. People who were sleepwalkers before often add eating to their walking.

People do many other things while sleeping. Some people rock in their sleep or bang their head against a wall. Some people get up and go out, which can be very dangerous. The best thing to do it try to relax, exercise, eat well and go to sleep not worrying about the problems of the day or the problems you may have tomorrow. Clear your mind. Try relaxation exercises. Listen to music. Go for a walk.

OTHER THINGS TO DO TO SLEEP BETTER

To sleep better try some of the following. Buy a good mattress. Make sure your bed and bedroom are quiet and comfortable. Don’t watch television in bed. You may get interested in a show and then it’s suddenly two hours later. If noise bothers you, get a white noise machine. I have had one for many years and can’t sleep without it, or you can get the same effect by turning on a fan or an air conditioner. The steady noise helps you sleep and blocks out the outside noises. Sleep in a cool room and block out as much light as possible.

Sleep only when sleepy. If you can’t fall asleep within twenty minutes, get up and do something boring until you feel sleepy. Don’t take naps. Get up and go to bed the same time every day. Refrain from exercise at least 4 hours before bedtime. Only use your bed for sleeping and wear something comfortable to sleep in. Stay away from caffeine, nicotine and alcohol at least 4-6 hours before bed. Take a hot bath 90 minutes before bedtime. Try to clear your mind. Start counting from 100 backwards slowly and keep doing that until you fall asleep. I find this works for me, along with the CPAP machine and something to reduce outside noise. I have had sleep problems all my life and I continue to try things to make myself sleep better. Doctors can really help with this problem and the reason you are tired may not only have to do with lack of sleep. I also round I had thyroid problem that caused me to be exhausted. This was corrected with a simply pill. Talk to you doctor and try some sleep rituals to make you rest better.

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