Sleep paralysis is that feeling when you are still asleep but partially awake and cannot move even though you are aware of all that is going on around you.
What Sleep paralysis means
While sleep paralysis is a very disturbing experience and those that have had it tell of a feeling of dread and terror. It can be explained to help reduce the fright of not knowing what and why you may experience this phenomenon.
It is a well known fact that sleep paralysis usually occur when you are either in the -“hypnagogic” or the “hypnopompic” sleep periods.
The hypnagogic sleep paralysis happens when you are yet to fall asleep, while the hypnopompic sleep paralysis happens when you are just about to awake from your rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
When you go to sleep, your body will be very relaxed and your mind will become somewhat less active and aware.
You will experience the hypnagogic sleep paralysis when your mind is still active or aware but your body is very relaxed.
In this situation you will suddenly wake up to the reality that you cannot not move in spite of all your efforts for a few seconds or minutes. Putting you in a state of complete and utter confusion and panic.
On the other hand when you experience REM sleep your muscles become somewhat paralyzed this us to make sure we do not physically act out our dreams. In the hypnopompic sleep paralysis a part of your brain seems to wake up sooner than expected, while this will not influence that part of the brain that actually leads to REM paralysis, it will cause you to suddenly wake up with no control over your body for some seconds or minutes.
Who is susceptible to sleep paralysis?
It is possible that some individuals will only experience sleep paralysis once or maybe twice in the lifetime. However, there are some people that are at a higher risk of experiencing sleep paralysis. It is believed that about 8 percent of the overall population have recurring sleep paralysis issues. If someone has a mental illness like depression and anxiety it is believed that they will be more susceptible to sleep paralysis.
If a person has a sleep apnea or is on some sort of prescription drug they could also be prone to recurring sleep paralysis.
Below is a list of possible factors that would increase a person’s risk of frequent sleep paralysis episodes.
– Not sleeping well or at all.
– Irregular sleep patterns.
– Depression, anxiety, stress and bipolar condition.
– When you sleep on your back.
– Nighttime leg cramps or even narcolepsy.
– Addiction to illicit drugs.
– Medications like those with ADHD.
Sleep paralysis symptoms
– You can move or speak for some seconds or minutes.
– It happens before you sleep or after you sleep before you wake from REM sleep.
– It does not cause any physical harm to the person experiencing it.
– It may require a visit to a specialist if it is frequent and accompanied with other symptoms like headaches, migraines and pains.
Treating sleep paralysis
– There is currently no known prescription for sleep paralysis as it is a natural phenomenon.
– If a visit to your doctor is made and underlying factors were uncovered during diagnosis then he may prescribe these treatments;
1. Regularisation of your sleeping schedule.
2. Anti-depressant prescription drugs.
3. Advise to see a mental health expert.
4. Advise to see a sleep specialist.
5. Prescription of sleeping medications.
6. A treatment regimen for those underlying sleep illness.
It should be noted that having an isolated episode of sleep paralysis should not necessitate your visiting your doctor but rather only when you have frequent recurring episodes.
You are also advised to try and get enough sleep as well as improve your sleeping habits like – ensuring you sleep less on your back, you don’t spend too much time glued to a TV screen before bedtime or the screens of your handheld devices and phones.
You are also advised to limit your nicotine, caffeine and alcohol intake as they can greatly increase your risk of experiencing sleep paralysis.
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