Saturday, 18 June 2011

Sleep Disorders

Yesterday I mentioned sleep disorders. Today I will tell you about my specific disorders and how they affect me.

The first disorder is extremely common: insomnia.

Most of the time when I go to bed it will take me an hour at the least to settle to sleep. Sometimes it can take much longer and it gets extremely frustrating!!

I have tried all sorts!! I tried sleeping pills. I didn't like them and I didn't want to try them but I had to. They didn't work so well! It would still take me up to an hour to settle to sleep and when I woke up I'd feel dizzy and disorientated. I would also often have a headache. I tried the usual don't eat up to an hour before you sleep, don't use a computer up to an hour before you sleep, avoid caffeine etc but none of them seemed to work either! I have a pale orange light in my room that I read with and although it's a nice calming light it doesn't seem to help much!! I also tried camomile tea...! Nothing seems to work! I often just lie in bed and wait for sleep to come! Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. Even when it does, it's not necessarily a good thing because often it won't last long! Most nights my body finds it impossible to sleep for more than four hours. I try keeping myself busy and active all day so that by the end of the day I'm exhausted but sleep will still elude me! I can usually function just fine on 4 hours sleep but sometimes it will build up and I will become irritable and angry. I will lose all motivation to do anything and often the downward spiral of depression will begin.

Another sleep disorder I suffer with is sleep paralysis. This is a less common disorder and probably less heard of.

When we go to sleep we enter a cycle called REM sleep. When in REM sleep the body experiences hypotonia which is a lowered muscle tone in the body. You won't be able to move. Usually this is not a problem as you're in a deep sleep. REM sleep occurs throughout the night and starts off for a short period of time gradually getting longer. Babies experience more REM sleep than adults. Vivid dreams that you remember often occur during REM sleep and this is why REM sleep and sleep paralysis are often thought to be related.

My personal experience of sleep paralysis is quite terrifying. I will suddenly wake up after hearing a sound or sensing someone in my room. I will be unable to move, unable to breath properly. Even though I have suffered bouts of this disorder for many years now I am always unaware when it occurs. I never just think "yes, this is sleep paralysis, let it take it's course then you'll be fine". When I have trouble breathing I will try to move or call out but I will be unable to. It often feels like I am pinned to the bed, like I have a heavy weight on top of my entire body. I will be unable to see which makes things that little bit scarier. Often I will hear sounds around me but I will be unable to discern what they are given my inability to move. Then comes the worst part!! I will often sense a presence in the room with me. I am never certain as to whether my eyes are open or not and I will see a figure looming over me. Sometimes this will be a person (either a stranger or someone I recognise) other times it will be a creature of some description. Something terrifying and not of this world! The figure will come at me, often screeching or growling. It will come right up to my face but will not touch me. I cannot defend myself as I cannot physically move. The figure will usually come at me a few times before suddenly I will feel the 'weight' lifted from my body and I regain the ability to move.

Usually, it will feel like this experience is lasting for hours when in reality it is only a few seconds or minutes. When the experience is over I will feel shaky and breathless. I will also feel confused and disoriented.

Another sleep disorder I have suffered is sleep walking. This is a common known disorder and I am sure you are aware what it entails. More often than not I will not get myself into a dangerous situation and I will often take myself back to bed.

The final sleep disorder I have suffered (less so recently) is night terrors. I am sure you will have heard about nightmares. These are unpleasant dreams that make you feel uneasy and uncomfortable. Night terrors are a step further. They are almost similar to sleep paralysis in that I will experience some sort of paralysis whilst seeing vivid images and hearing sounds. However, I will often then either sit bolt upright with my eyes wide in terror or I will jump up on my bed. I have been known to scream during these episodes. Usually, in the morning, I will have no recollection of the night before. It used to scare my partner as when these episodes would occur it would look like I was awake and so it would confuse him.

When I was younger, the nightmares were often accompanied by bed wetting. As I child I didn't realise what was happening to me and my mum thought I had a bladder problem. I seem to recall having to see a doctor about the problem and they would say it was due to my parent's divorce and I was attention seeking! Of course, if I protested this they would tell me I was a problem child!

A lot of these disorders are stress related and can be explained. However, it is near impossible for me to prevent these things from happening. It is something I have learnt to accept!

Thanks for tuning in again and be sure to come back tomorrow to read about my experience with therapy.

Keep Smiling :(:


  1. I had chills when reading about your experience with sleep paralysis. I've tried to explain this to people but nobody seems to get it. I have noticed though, that it typically happens only when i am way past the point of tired, and if i fall asleep on my back. It only happens when i sleep on my back. And I've also found out that if i think its going to happen some night, when i'm exhausted, i can prevent it by sleeping with music. The music helps by drowning out the little sounds in the background, preventing the eerie and demonic sounds at bay. I also do my best to not fall asleep on my back, but when your over tired it can happen on accident. Its some pretty intense stuff.

  2. I had wondered for such a long time what it was. I stopped suffering for a good few years and when it came back I googled the symptoms and the results came back as sleep paralysis.

    I haven't really found any common factors yet when it affects me apart from stress. I can't sleep on my back as it affects my breathing!!

    It's so hard to describe to someone as they think you're nuts!!

  3. When i have my dream I feel a weight on me which is an invisible force. I have been pinned to the ceiling and walls.I have had this dream for about 8 years now and have it almost every night. I am paralysed and cant shout. Sometimes I wake up but I'm not actually awake. I was told to try and grab hold of whatever it was that was raping me and I did one night and it was a disfigured person. Really creepy and I get scared of going to sleep now. Some think I am crazy when I tell them this but I know I am not

  4. Trisha, I can relate to you there. I have sleep paralysis combined with night terrors. It is quite traumatic especially when you don't understand it. The sleep paralysis can cause quite severe hallucinations which is due to the lack of oxygen reaching your brain. Usually each 'episode' doesn't last very long but it feels like an eternity!!

    My first ever experience of this, I was staying at my cousin's place, I had fallen asleep in the lounge and she carried me to bed. I woke up in a strange blue room and I could see white hands by the light switch. When I tried to cry out the hands came over to me and were wrapped around my throat.

    I've also felt as if I'm being penetrated from time to time and I will wake up feeling sore "down there".

    It is worth speaking to your doctor about visiting a sleep clinic x


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