Unusual Sleep Disorders
Nocturnal Eating Disorders
Night Eating Syndrome
Patients with night eating syndrome or nocturnal eating syndrome are awake but continue snacking after their evening meal until they fall asleep. This is a result of poor sleep hygiene and causes heartburn during sleep, which can not only be disruptive, but also accelerate tooth decay due to poor oral hygiene.
Sleep Related Eating
Less common and more complex than night eating syndrome, sleep related eating occurs when patients eat while their brain remains asleep. Signs include missing food that cannot be accounted for, a feeling of fullness and lack of appetite at breakfast, weight gain, and finding crumbs, utensils or wrappings in bed. These patients, who also sometimes eat inappropriate inedible substances such as cigarette sandwiches, can benefit from medical and psychological therapy. Some drugs can precipitate these complex behaviors.
Nocturnal Enuresis (Bedwetting)
In both adults and children, bedwetting can be indicative of a sleep disorder, such sleep apnea. Often, when this condition is treated, bedwetting is resolved. Additionally, many men attribute frequent nighttime urination to aging, but that may not always be the case, since patients with unrecognized sleep apnea need to void more often.
Nocturnal Seizure Disorder
Nocturnal or sleep-related seizures can cause abnormal movement or behavior during sleep. They are a form of epilepsy caused by abnormal electrical activity within the brain. They frequently occur in people with epileptic seizures during the day, but may also occur only at night. Symptoms range from awakening many times a night for no apparent reason to violent movements of the arms and legs accompanied by tongue biting and bedwetting.
Children with nocturnal seizures — often confused with night terrors — can usually be soothed or awakened. Those experiencing night terrors usually cannot be comforted or awakened. What’s more, children do not remember anything about a night terror the next day, whereas the child who has a nocturnal seizure may remember it the next morning.