5 Bizarre Sleep Behaviors

For some people, the wee hours are anything but restful. Here's a rundown of some of the wackiest sleep-related behaviors that can occur, and what to do about them:

1. Sleepeating

Imagine waking in the morning and discovering that you had raided the fridge—maybe more than once. For sleepeaters, this is a nightly occurrence. People who rise from bed and eat and drink to excess do it completely unconsciously. Sleepeaters tend to go for foods that they might normally avoid during waking hours, such as those loaded with fat, salt, and sugar, and will usually return to bed after eating. Besides being a dieter's nightmare, sleepeating can be downright dangerous if the person eats or drinks things that are poisonous or leaves a stove or oven on. Treatment may require medication.

2. Sleep Paralysis

This can be quite scary to the sleeper, who experiences a complete inability to move while either falling asleep or awakening. The immobility can last from a few seconds to minutes, and may be accompanied by nightmarish hallucinations. The paralysis either ends spontaneously or when another person touches the sleeper. The condition is not dangerous, but may be terrifying to the person experiencing it.

3. Sleepwalking

Sleepwalking, or somnambulism affects up to 15 percent of people and occurs far more often in children than adults. Despite its name, sleepwalking can go beyond walking. Sleepwalkers have been known to get into cars and drive, without any memory of the event. While there is no one standard treatment for sleepwalking, taking steps to improve the quality of sleep may help stop the episodes. Some adults have had success with hypnosis or sedative drugs.

4. Sleep Talking

Also known as somniloquy, somniloquists may have long dialogues or monologues and mumble what sounds like gibberish. Or their words may be clear and seem to relate to past events. Sleep talkers may sound different than they do when awake. Talking during sleep may be brought on by stress or illness. It's usually short lived and causes no harm, except for disturbing roommates (and possibly embarrassing the sleeper).

5. REM Sleep Behavior Disorder

People with this condition physically act out their dreams as they occur. They may flail their limbs, cry out, and hit their partners. Medication helps the vast majority of sufferers. For those who don't respond to medication, the best solution is to make the bedroom environment safer in case of a violent episode.




National Sleep Foundation. "Sleep Talking." Web. http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-related-problems/sleep-talking

"REM Behavior Disorder and Sleep." Web. http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-related-problems/rem-behavior-disorder-and-sleep

"Sleepwalking." http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-related-problems/sleepwalking

National Institutes of Health. "Isolated Sleep Paralysis." Web. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000801.htm

American Sleep Association. "Sleep Eating." http://www.sleepassociation.org/index.php?p=sleepeating