Sleep Disorders


Have you ever woken up from sleep to find yourself unable to move as if you were being held down by some spirit? No, it wasn't a ghost - it is a sleep disorder called sleep paralysis: the temporary paralysis of the body shortly before or after sleep. Sleep paralysis may be accompanied by hallucinations.

Everyone's heard of common sleep disorders such as insomnia, sleep talking and sleep walking. But there are other types of sleep disorders too. Some sound really funny (of course it won't be funny if you have it):
- Periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD): Sudden involuntary movement of arms and/or legs during sleep, for example kicking the legs. Stop being angry at your partner for kicking or slapping you at night. He/she might have a sleep disorder.
- Sleep sex. I don't think I need to elaborate on this. Don't try using this as an excuse for infidelity unless you have your doctor's letter.
- REM behaviour disorder (RBD): Acting out violent or dramatic dreams while in REM sleep. Again, don't use this as an excuse for killing your boss unless you're medically diagnosed with this disorder.

I don't suffer from any of these 3 disorders (at least till I need to find excuses to explain any regrettable actions), but I have an abnormal REM sleep. According to the information at that website, I may have narcolepsy. Ok, I know it sounds more serious than it is so let me explain what it is all about.

Quoting from
"There are two main types of sleep. REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep is when you do most active dreaming. Your eyes actually move back and forth during this stage, which is why it is called REM sleep. Non-REM (NREM) sleep consists of four stages of deeper and deeper sleep.

  • Stage 1 (Drowsiness) - Stage 1 lasts just five or ten minutes. Eyes move slowly under the eyelids, muscle activity slows down, and you are easily awakened.
  • Stage 2 (Light Sleep) - Eye movements stop, heart rate slows, and body temperature decreases.
  • Stages 3 & 4 (Deep Sleep) - You’re difficult to awaken, and if you are awakened, you do not adjust immediately and often feel groggy and disoriented for several minutes. Deep sleep allows the brain to go on a little vacation needed to restore the energy we expend during our waking hours. Blood flow decreases to the brain in this stage, and redirects itself towards the muscles, restoring physical energy. Research also shows that immune functions increase during deep sleep.
  • REM sleep (Dream Sleep) – At about 70 to 90 minutes into your sleep cycle, you enter REM sleep. You usually have three to five REM episodes per night. This stage is associated with processing emotions, retaining memories and relieving stress. Breathing is rapid, irregular and shallow, the heart rate increases, blood pressure rises, males may have penile erections, and females may have clitoral enlargement."
My REM sleep cycle is abnormal (perhaps I have brain damage after all.. read my previous blog posting). I enter the REM, or dream, phase of sleep right after falling asleep, whereas most people take about 90 minutes to enter the REM phase. According to the information on this website, this is one of the symptions of narcolepsy. However, I do not experience of the other symptoms or suffer from any of the effects of it, e.g. falling asleep or losing muscle control while performing activities, low sex drive, having problems remembering things and concentrating, etc. In fact, I can't even sleep without a proper place to sit or lie down and I don't have problems staying awake and alert during school or work time except when the topic or speaker is really boring but I'm sure even normal people would feel like dozing off!

Jokes aside, many people suffer from sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, but don't even know it until a family member or partner tells them about it. I believe that sleep is very important to our physical and mental health and should be taken seriously. If you suspect you may have a sleeping disorder, don't spend another day sleeping on it (that's if you can sleep) but go get checked. I'm not suggesting that medication is the best way to go but awareness and knowledge about how to cope would definitely be useful.


Taka said...

Then how do you explain waking up hearing a woman laughing in high pitch and the next thing you know, the window grill starts to shake violently? scary.......hehhhe

Yu-Kym said...

Did anyone else hear or see it? It seems sleep paralysis may be accompanied by by visual, auditory or sensory hallucinations. I did a websearch on "sleep disorder hallucination" and there are many articles about it. I don't know for a fact whether the doctors are right or that you actually experienced a haunting. I experienced this only once and I did have hear and feel "something" that wasn't there... or was it there? *hair standing*

Betaphats said...

Hi Yu-Kym,
I ever had that experience of paralysis before and i didnt know anyone could actually elaborate this well over this subject. :) I do suffer from sleeping disorders and as such, it has indeed affecte the quality of my life abit. Nevertheless, i am still making the world work for me the way it is suppose to be. :) Just live life.

Yu-Kym said...

Hi Betaphats, if you scroll down my this post, there's an advertisement by Pacific Sleep Centre. I've attended a free seminar about sleep apnea by that doctor before (btw, I find his name kinda interesting). I think they hold those seminars periodically - you can try calling to ask. Might be a good forum for you to get answers to yours questions for free :)

David said...


Followed your links to get to this post.

Most interesting. Have you had a sleep study to accurately diagnose your sleep pattern (disorder)?

Self-diagnosis is fraught with risk.

Consider these more recent studies of handedness and possible causes.


Having a close left-handed relative makes right-handers better at remembering events than those from exclusively right-handed families, new research suggests. There is a downside, however, as members of these ambidextrous families may be relatively impaired in their ability to recall facts.

According to the study, having a left-handed sibling or parent means the organisation of your brain is intermediate between a pure 'lefty' and a pure 'righty'.

Specifically, Stephen Christman and Ruth Propper at the University of Toledo, Ohio claim that people with 'lefties' in the family have a larger corpus callosum - the connection between the brain hemispheres. This makes you better at certain memory tasks, but worse at others, they believe.

Journal reference: Neuropsychology (vol 15 (4))

Also from:

Ambidextrous Kids More Likely to Have ADHD

Jan. 25, 2010 -- Young children who can eat, write, and perhaps throw a ball with both hands are more likely to develop learning, language, and mental health problems than children who are strictly right- or left-handed, according to a new report in the journal Pediatrics.

The ability to write and perform other tasks with both hands is called mixed-handedness. About one in every 100 people is mixed-handed, or ambidextrous. What makes a person ambidextrous is somewhat of a mystery, but the ability has been linked to the hemispheres of the brain.

Since this post is more than one year old, how is your current sleep pattern compares to whay you describe here.


If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate.

-- Nikka, age 6

Yu-Kym said...

David, I've not gone to a sleep lab for a test. It would cost too much money and I don't want to be "cured" of my dreams!

About the link between memory and having an ambidextrous family member, my elder sister and I are ambidextrous. My younger sister and mother have a rather poor memory for events that happened a long time ago. I don't know whether there's a connection.

My sleep pattern hasn't changed except for sleeping later and waking up later - which is 'normal' for someone who doesn't have to wake up at a fixed time daily.

David said...


A sleep study would not cure of your dreams. A sleep study measures breathing and heart parameters for signs of sleep apmea. Apnea can lead to dangerous heart problems if left untreated.

A sleep study does not tell the doctor anything about your dreams.


Love begins when the needs of someone else become more important than your own.

-- Lao Wei

Yu-Kym said...

David, I see no good reason to see a doctor. I function well as long as I get undisturbed sleep. Sad to say, many doctors just want to prescribe pills and make money. I recently read that dreaming doesn't only happen during REM sleep; it can happen during non-REM sleep.

David said...


I agree with you analysis.

You may have interesting dreams, but you have no physical ailment requiring a sleep study.

I am left handed and life is good if not always interesting.

A good sleep environement and sufficient amount of sleep is all a healthy women like you need.


Keep one thing in view forever- the truth; and if you do this, though it may seem to lead you away from the opinion of men, it will assuredly conduct you to the throne of God.

-- Horace Mann