Sleep Disorders/Strange Sleep


QUESTION: I have a history of extremely horrible nightmares (waking up sweating, hyperventilating, screaming, etc.) in my early teens and for a period of time trouble falling asleep in my early teens. I haven't experienced these two symptoms since I was 15. I am now 17 and have a lot of trouble falling asleep in school. I sleep in the same room as my mother and she says she hears me talk in my sleep every night. My friends have told me I will look them straight in the eye and talk to them but I am actually asleep. I have woken up from punching the air before, and once punched my mom in my sleep. I go to sleep between 9-10 every night and wake up at 630 every morning. I do not drink alcohol, caffeine or take recreational drugs. I am currently prescribed Prozac though. I have strange "memories" of suddenly waking up already sitting up then falling back asleep. I'm not sure if I'm actually sitting up in my sleep or these are dreams. I have very vivid dreams. I sometimes wake up in the completely opposite direction I went to sleep (Head at foot of bed, feet on pillows.) During school when I easily fall asleep I fade in and out of consciousness. I would say for seconds at a time not even minutes. Sometimes I lose track of what someone has actually said to me and what I think someone has said to me. This makes it very hard to pay attention and understand things taught in class. My friend has described me as "delusional" as I fade in and out of sleep-ishness. I'm just tired all the time, can fall asleep anytime, watching tv, reading, at school. What is this?

ANSWER: Hi darcy.

There are a few things that may be going on. I do promise though that you are not going crazy!

The first possibility of what may be going on are night terrors. When we are younger, we have a lot of very deep sleep called delta sleep. During this time if someone is prone to it, they will sleep walk, talk, and sometimes do odd behaviors while they are sleeping. We do grow out of this as we get older, which may explain why those parts kind of went away after 15 years old.

Next part....i would like to know do you have your tonsils, have been diagnosed with ADHD, or are overweight at all? Do you snore at all? It's possible that you may have a little bit of sleep apnea going on.

These next questions sound weird, but just go with me on this....

The last thing i want to said you get sleepy out of nowhere sometimes. Do you ever feel really weak all of a sudden sometimes? By this, i mean does your body feel almost like you are having an 'attack' of weakness? Have you noticed that when this happens, it is brought on by an emotion, like sudden laughter, or crying, or excitement etc.?

Do you feel like you can never get enough sleep?

I don't think the prozac would be causing or adding to what you are describing. Please let me know the answers to these questions, and then i can help you further :)

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I do have my tonsils, I do not have ADHD (I've been through extensive therapy and have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety.) I am not overweight, I'm closer to being underweight than overweight. (5'4 110 pounds) I don't snore a lot, I do sometimes but just normal amounts. Unless I'm sick and have a plugged up nose then I snore a lot. I don't get suddenly very weak but I will get suddenly so extremely tired that I will drop my head and then pop back up to try and stay awake. Like I'm involuntarily falling asleep. I never actually pass out though unless I put my head down on a desk or lay down then I'm out like a light. I do feel like I can never get enough sleep. This happens every day regardless if I got 10 hours of sleep to 2 hours or anywhere in between. Is it possible that I'm so bored in class and not moving at all (just sitting at a desk) that I start to fall asleep?

Thanks for getting back to me :). In all honesty, I have a feeling you may have narcolepsy. It is rare. It tends to develop in the teenage years.  Characteristics of it include EDS (excessive daytime sleepiness), vivid dreams, irregular sleep and wake cycles/patterns, falling asleep at inappropriate times, people thinking you are lazy or even rude for falling asleep so easily.

It can also include (but not always) cataplexy (which is the weakness i mentioned), and sleep paralysis, which is where when you fall asleep and/or wake up you feel like you cannot move for a few seconds. I do suggest you research narcolepsy on a site like webmd.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE I urge need to tell your mom that you need a doctor appointment. You need to tell the doctor that you need a sleep study, as well as an MSLT. The MSLT is a special sleep study with naps that happens during the day after a normal night sleep study. They are both easy and nothing hurts at all! No needles or blood, just sleep! You can tell him about or even show him our conversation.

Once you get a diagnosis, there is treatment, which is everyday medication. This will make you feel like a normal person again! There may be other sleep issues going on, but i feel like narcolepsy is most likely the issue.

If you drive, i urge you not to, until you can get this all figured out.

I wish you good luck. I also hope that you will write to me, and let me know the outcome of the sleep study.  

Sleep Disorders

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Erika Roggenback


I can answer all questions related to any type of sleep disorders, or sleeping issues, for all ages. For sleeping disorders, these can include narcolepsy, REM Behavior Disorder (RBD), parasomnias such as sleep talking, walking or eating, and many more. I can also help with any issues dealing with sleep apnea or PAP. Lastly, I can give assistance on how to get a better nights sleep, sleep hygiene and how your medications can affect your sleep.


I have been a sleep technologist for 13.5 years, having run studies on people of all ages.

Registered Polysomnographic Technologist

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