How to Solve Weird Sleep Disorders

Marie Claire - UK|April 2016

How to Solve Weird Sleep Disorders

Did you get enough shut-eye last night? With insomnia on the rise, the answer is probably ‘no’. But what exactly is keeping you awake? Anna Pointer finds out.

Anna Pointer

Yep, even when I’m asleep, I can still find the fridge.

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU had a really good night’s rest? A third of us now regularly battles with poor sleep, and the numbers are rising. But it’s not just a case of tossing and turning and counting a few sheep, our nocturnal problems seem to be increasingly, well, weird.

‘We’re seeing many more people with sleep disorders than ten years ago,’ says Dr Irshaad Ebrahim, medical director of the London Sleep Centre. ‘This is because of higher stress levels and also due to people having greater awareness of all different kinds of sleep disorders.’

Although a good night’s kip is fundamental to our well-being, the nation’s most comprehensive sleep study, conducted last year, showed that 46 per cent of us manage just six hours a night, which for most people is not enough. Founder of The Sleep School, Dr Guy Meadows, who led the Big Sleep Survey, says, ‘We work longer hours than ever and are more stressed, but we all take sleep for granted. Our modern lifestyles mean we’ve forgotten that it helps us recharge, rebalance and renew our minds and bodies. This causes us to make less time for sleep, resulting in further stress and tiredness. On average, we need between seven and eight hours a night, but some people need as little as four hours and others as much as ten.’

Frequent disrupted sleep can lead to serious problems. ‘Without proper rest, we experience higher blood pressure, a lack of concentration, a weakened immune system and loss of libido,’ says Dr Matthew Hind, consultant physician at London’s Royal Brompton Hospital. ‘It can also lead to depression and weight gain, because we eat more to keep going.’

Here’s what to look out for – and what to do if you are affected…

Exploding head syndrome

What is it? ‘It feels like someone has fired a starting pistol in your head and usually happens as I’m nodding off,’ says Jess, 32, from London. ‘I’ll shake my partner, saying, “What was that?” but he doesn’t hear it. You feel panic and your heart’s racing until you realise that it’s not an explosion; it’s in your head.’

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April 2016