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Sweet sleep … or a sleep disorder?

Sweet sleep … or a sleep disorder?

By Rick Hinton

I like a good snooze. Who doesn’t? I think back upon the sleep of my youth: 10-12 hours of subliminal bliss, followed by an awakening, a quick snack, then back to sleep for a few hours more. Those were the days when, while on break from school, we would exercise a nice, subtle excuse from any adult responsibility by spending hours in silent lucidity. How I wish those days would come again!

I’ve heard tempting rumors that it can be so in retirement. Very tempting! Can we go back to the sleep of our youth? Does it all go full circle as we age? I have the calendar out. I’m checking off each day. The future is … well, the future for this solider and steadily growing closer. It has become a mission!

Oh no! A nightmare in the making. I need to sleep! (Photos by Rick Hinton)

However, our sleep changes as we grow older. As with everything else, as the decades pass into a misty future, sleep also has its mysterious transformations from what we remember from when we were young and a future so very far away. A sign of the times? Pretty much. Are there paranormal ramifications from disturbances in our sleep? You bet! We’ll get into that next week, but for now – let’s take a look at the most common sleep disorders that make one feel tired and worn down:

Insomnia: Difficulty going to sleep, staying asleep, or waking earlier than planned. It can be a vicious cycle! For me, it’s usually Sunday night because I hate going to work on Monday morning. For my friend, Judy Fowler Smith, it appears to be every night.

Sleep apnea: Breathing stops for several seconds during the night due to blockage in the upper respiratory system (lying horizontal doesn’t help). The brain finds itself awakening to correct the blockage. I don’t think I suffer this condition, but my wife could answer that better than I. Snoring can be associated with Sleep apnea. I do have occasional bouts of this, of which my wife will attest! A Sleep Number 360 Smart Bed, with my wife’s finger on the control for the tilting head, could easily solve this malady. However, it’s not in the budget.

Sweet blissful sleep, or something else?

Restless leg syndrome: Sensations in the legs (my feet particularly) of aching, itching, throbbing and burning. It’s hard to drop off to sleep with the feeling of bugs crawling about your lower extremities. I need to move! Soothing body lotion prior seems to help.

Narcolepsy: This is a complicated one. It’s a neurological disorder characterized by the inability to control the sleep/wakefulness cycle. Excessive daytime sleepiness can cause you to drop off without a moment’s notice. One of my favorite shows from the 1980s, Hill Street Blues, addressed this condition with the introduction of a character, Nick Hitler, a struggling stage comic, who would drop off in mid-routine. People thought it part of the act. It wasn’t. Sleep paralysis (we’ll get into that next week) and hallucinations can also be associated with this condition.

Of ghosts and things that go bump in the night? Late night or early morning encounters? Paranormal experiences can tie in and sometimes be explained by at least two fairly common sleep disorders: sleep paralysis. and my new favorite term – exploding head syndrome.



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