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Three common sleep disorders

23 August 2022

Key points:

  • Activation parasomnia occurs when the brain wakes up before the body can move.
  • Night terrors usually occur in children between the ages of 3 and 9.
  • REM sleep behavior disorder occurs due to alterations in the brain structure.

Have you heard the phrase “a ghost was pinning you down”? This situation, and others like it, have nothing to do with paranormal phenomena, but with neurological and functional phenomena, says Dr. Óscar Sánchez Escandón – neurologist and sleep specialist at ABC Medical Center
Sleepwalking, as well as other nocturnal phenomena, occur when we sleep and are called parasomnias, which can be classified into two groups:

  • Parasomnias during superficial or light sleep.
  • Parasomnias during REM or rapid eye movement sleep.

Dr. Sánchez points out that there are different sleep disorders, but among the most recurrent are:

Activation parasomnia

It happens when you wake up and can’t move, it’s commonly known as sleep paralysis. This situation occurs because, in general terms, the brain wakes up before the body, which prevents it from moving.

Although it is a relatively common phenomenon, if it happens, it should be analyzed that it does not have a strange origin and, if so, seek appropriate treatment.

Night terrors

A phenomenon that commonly occurs in children between the ages of three and nine, although it can happen at other times. In this situation, children wake up crying uncontrollably, distressed, unable to pay attention to their surroundings, and unable to have a quiet moment.

“Night terrors affect almost 40 percent of children and a significantly smaller percentage of adults. Although they are scary, night terrors are not usually a cause for concern. Most children outgrow night terrors before adolescence.”1

Night terrors are highly associated with various bad habits in children, including not having a regular bedtime or using electronic devices late in the day, says Dr. Sanchez.

Therefore, it is recommended to follow these recommendations to help reduce the probability of suffering night terrors.

  • Sleep at the correct time. Make the child sleep at an understandable time, which is around 8 at night.
  • Lower your carbohydrate intake. Reduce carbohydrate-enriched diets, especially at night.
  • Limit gadgets. Help limit brain stimuli by restricting the use of tablets, cell phones, or video games before bed.

Dr. Sánchez says that there is a very effective strategy for children called “The dreams or nightmares’ eating monster” where the little one is given a stuffed animal or a nice monster that must have a small bag. The children will write or draw the nightmare they have, put it in the bag and the monster will take it away, allowing the children to sleep well.

REM sleep behavior disorder

While, in older adults, one of the phenomena that may attract more attention is REM sleep behavior disorder, in which, based on alterations in the brain structure, they will act their dreams.

This can translate into someone dreaming that they are hunting something in their dreams, but in reality, only their body is acting to aim the weapon, move to follow the prey, etc. Actions that are the result of a malfunction in the mechanism that inhibits the body’s movement, being a neurological alteration.

Although at first glance these sleep disorders do not look very alarming, they are something really important that you should consider as they can be a potential problem that alters the patient’s quality of life and sleep; it can also affect their relationships with others, their professional or school performance, and themselves, adds Dr. Sanchez.

At the ABC Medical Center’s Neurology Center we can provide you with specialized care. Contact us!

Dr. Óscar Sánchez Escandón – Sleep specialist neurologist

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    Dr. Óscar Sánchez Escandón

    Dr. Óscar Sánchez Escandón

    Dream medicine

    Formed as Médico Cirujano Naval at the Universidad Naval. Specialized on Dream Medicine at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

    Medical License: 2913899

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