You know that scene in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” where Lucy is analyzing good old Charlie Brown and she runs down the list of odd-sounding phobias he could have? She goes from hypengyophobia (fear of responsibility) to gephyrophobia (crossing bridges) before hitting on the right diagnosis, which in his case happens to be pantophobia—the fear of everything.
Given this blog’s focus on sleep, we were intrigued by the similarly curious terminology around sleep disorders (sleep “disturbances,” the pros call them). Check out a few of the more unusual names for common and not-so-common sleep troubles.
Insomnia: This is the broad term for any difficulty falling or staying asleep. It may be temporary or chronic.
Hypersomnia: Too much of a good thing, some would say. This is a kind of mirror image of insomnia—a pervasive sleepiness that not even naps can relieve.
Hypopnea Syndrome: The medical term for shallow breathing or low respiration rate while asleep.
Nocturnal Myoclonus or Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD): Wherein a sleeper’s limbs move involuntarily. Not to be confused with…
Restless Leg Syndrome: An irresistible urge to move one’s legs that occurs while trying to sleep.
Bruxism: The grinding or clenching of the teeth while sleeping.
Nocturia: A recurring need to urinate at night.
Narcolepsy: People with this malady find themselves spontaneously falling asleep with little or no warning.
Somnambulism: The 50-cent word for sleepwalking.
Somniloquy: Similarly high-priced term for talking in your sleep.
Situational Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders: Related to shift work sleep disorders (SWSD), this broad category also includes jet lag.
Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Syndrome: In this rare disorder, the person’s body clock is out of whack with the sun’s daily rhythm. This can result in a schedule that’s defined by 48 hours awake followed by 24 hours asleep.