Sleep Disorders and Werewolves

Sleep Disorders and Werewolves

Sleep Disorders and Werewolves

Have you ever done something unexpected in the night while you were still asleep? I’m talking things like sleep walking, sleep talking, or maybe sleep eating. Other people might even have thought you were really awake. If so, you may have a parasomnia.

Millions of people have parasomnias, a type of sleep disorder with sleep-wake transition issues. It can be a very interesting place, the world of parasomnias.

I am a somnambulist, somniloquist, a sometimes insomniac, a radical dreamer, with a touch of narcolepsy just for fun. Don’t you love these words – sounds like something out of a Shakespeare play.

A somnambulist is a sleep walker and to sleep walk is very common among children. I used to sleep walk all the time. I’d get out of bed and head out to the living room where my parents were watching television. Your eyes are open when sleep walking and you can see what’s happening but you are trapped in the world of sleep and have no control of what you are doing. It’s like being a puppet with your unconscious pulling the strings.

I shared a bedroom with my sister Lisa when we were kids and she was the primary witness to my somnambulism. One night I was standing in front of the mirror brushing my hair while asleep. Another time while sleep walking I started attacking her leg.

A somniloquist is a sleep talker. Often the talking is mumbled and hard to decipher. That’s just as well isn’t it?

So what is going on here? The body is not supposed to wander about when asleep and dreaming, for obvious safety reasons. The brain switches off the body’s ability to move when dreaming. The switch appears to be faulty in the parasomniac.

I am a rabid dreamer and sometimes feel I have been dreaming all night without any deep sleep. We all dream about 5 times a night during what is called REM (rapid-eye movement) sleep. You can see the eyes twitch under the lids of the sleeper during REM sleep. Most people only remember the final dream in the morning when they have been woken from sleep by something like an alarm (which has cut into the REM stage). Some ‘well balanced’ people don’t remember their dreams at all.

I love being able to access my dreams but it can play havoc with the next day. I sometimes feel like I am still dreaming during the day (my poem Realm of the REM pretty much sums up what it feels like for me). I can be tired and disoriented, not sure if I’m really awake.

When I was a teenager I had a recurring dream that I was a werewolf and that I was eating people. Quite a nightmare that one and no comfort to my sister whose leg I had attacked. My brother Daniel used to dream he was being attacked by a werewolf.

The other night I dreamt a wolf was circling me in a menacing manner. I walked up to him and pushed his head and body to the ground, effortlessly. He looked up at me and then slinked off, continuing to circle but knowing his place.

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Note: this is an edited repost. The kids finally got over the flu but now the boy has a vomiting/gastro type thing – ah the joys of parenting 😉

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Demons in the bedroom

Demons in the bedroom

Have you ever been attacked by a demon (a vampire, witch and the like) in your sleep – your chest crushed under their weight?

Have you ever seen a dreamlike image or vision (maybe a ghost) as you were falling asleep, that seemed real?

These experiences are quite common and can be explained without reference to the occult.

A dreamlike image on falling asleep is known as a hypnagogic hallucination. The same thing on waking is called a hypnopompic hallucination. They are sensory sleep events (see, feel, smell, and hear things not there) experienced by those prone to sleep disorders.

Sleep hallucinations can include such things as experiencing an intruder, a wild animal or horrible monsters invading the bedroom. The sleeper can be terrified, thinking they are about to die. They may hear bells or see strong flashing lights. They may smell their attacker.

Sleep paralysis is a normal bodily function, where the brain stops sending messages to the muscles during the REM or dreaming stage of sleep. This prevents the person from getting out of bed and hurting themselves while dreaming.

Usually people are unaware of sleep paralysis and it’s only supposed to happen during REM or dreaming sleep. If you are aware of sleep paralysis it means you are in another stage of sleep.

Triggers for these types of sleep disorders may be as simple as drinking too much coffee, alcohol or other drugs, high levels of stress, and an overactive brain. Those with narcolepsy also experience these types of hallucinations

When sleep paralysis occurs during a hypnopompic or hypnagogic hallucination, it can be truly terrifying to the sleeper, as he or she is aware of the paralysis and helpless to respond to the ‘danger’. Some may believe the attacker is holding them down or sitting on their chest.

This may be where the myths and legends of incubus and succubus originated. The incubus is a male demon who forces himself upon (usually) female sleepers, in order to father a child. The succubus is the female demon (or hag) having forced sex with male sleepers.

It is not hard to believe that other tales of ghosts, witches, goblins, and ghouls may have originated from hallucinatory experiences of the sleep disordered. When someone regales you with stories of vampire lust, alien abductions or ghostly visitations, be sure to ask them if they were dozing off at the time.

So, we have the strange situation where the sleeper is dreaming in a non-REM stage of sleep and they are aware of their surroundings (i.e., the bedroom). The surroundings become part of the vision. I call this dreaming with my eyes open, and it has happened to me on a few occasions. I won’t go into details but one hypnagogic hallucination involved a giant possum, screams of horror, and the inability to move. Have any of my readers got tales to tell?

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This article was first published in Technorati (Lifestyle) on August 2nd 2011.

Sleep Disorders and Werewolves

Sleep Disorders and Werewolves

Have you ever done something unexpected in the night while you were still asleep.  Other people might even have thought you were really awake. If so, you may have a parasomnia.

Millions of people have parasomnias, a type of sleep disorder with sleep-wake transition issues. I’m talking things like sleep walking, sleep talking, and for some people sleep eating.

It can be a very interesting place, the world of parasomnias.

I am a somnambulist,  somniloquist, a sometimes insomniac, a radical dreamer, with a touch of narcolepsy just for fun. Don’t you love these words – sounds like something out of a Shakespeare play.

A somnambulist is a sleep walker and to sleep walk is very common among children. I used to sleep walk all the time. I’d get out of bed and head out to the living room where Mum and Dad were watching TV.  You have your eyes open when sleep walking and you can see what’s happening but you are trapped in the world of sleep and have no control of what you are doing. It’s like being a puppet with your unconscious pulling the strings.

I shared a bedroom with my sister Lisa when we were kids and she was the primary witness to my somnambulism. One night I was standing in front of the mirror brushing my hair while still asleep. Another time while sleep walking I started attacking her leg.

A somniloquist is a sleep talker. Often the talking is mumbled and hard to decipher. That’s just as well isn’t it?

So what is going on here.  The body is not supposed to move when asleep and dreaming, for obvious safety reasons. The brain switches off the bodies ability to move when dreaming. This switch appears to be faulty in the parasomniac.

I am a rabid dreamer and sometimes feel I have dreamt all night and not got any deep sleep. We all dream about 5 times a night during what is called REM (rapid-eye movement) sleep. You can see a sleepers eyes twitch under their lids during REM sleep. Most people only remember the final dream in the morning when they have been woken from sleep by something like an alarm (which has cut into the REM stage). Some ‘well balanced’ people don’t remember their dreams at all.

I love being able to access my dreams but it can play havoc with the next day. I sometimes feel like I am still dreaming during the day (my poem Realm of the REM pretty much sums up what it feels like for me). I can be tired and disoriented, not sure if I’m really awake.

When I was a teenager I had a recurring dream that I was a werewolf and that I was eating people. Quite a nightmare that one and no comfort to my sister whose leg I had attacked. My brother Daniel used to dream he was being attacked by a werewolf.

The other night I dreamt a wolf was circling me in a menacing manner. I walked up to him and pushed his head and body to the ground, effortlessly. He looked up at me and then slinked off, continuing to circle but knowing his place.