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New Solutions For Sleep Paralysis

What Is Sleep Paralysis?

Sleep paralysis is a terrifying condition in which sufferers report feeling as though they are awake, but are unable to speak or move their limbs. This issue is often accompanied by a sensation of pressure, the feeling of choking, or even hallucinations, which can be vivid and deeply unsettling. This condition has been used to explain many reported sightings of ghosts and demons, which are now thought to be the product of the subconscious during sleep paralysis.

Sleep paralysis occurs during periods of wakefulness and sleep and can occur either when the sufferer is just falling asleep, or when they are waking up. This condition can significantly disrupt the sleeping pattern of sufferers, leading to anxiety, stress, and fatigue, all of which can negatively impact productivity, functionality, and mood. As many as 4 out of 10 people will experience sleep paralysis at some point during their lives, making this a surprisingly common condition.

Why Does This Happen?

There are two types of sleep, and your body alternates between the two during the night over cycles of approximately 90 minutes. During NREM (non-rapid eye movement sleep), the body relaxes so that mental and physical restoration can take place. During this period, sleep is usually deep and dreamless.

During REM (rapid eye-movement) sleep, the eyes move around a lot and dreams are more likely to occur. The muscles are usually inactive during this type of sleep, which is the brain’s way of making sure people don’t move around and act out their dreams when they’re sleeping. Waking during this period can, therefore, cause the phenomenon of sleep paralysis, during which sufferers feel awake and aware but are still dreaming, and unable to move.

What are the Causes of Sleep Paralysis?

The causes of sleep paralysis are not well understood, but several contributing factors have been identified. It is thought that changes in sleeping pattern, lack of sleep, and even sleeping in certain positions, such as on the back, can all exacerbate the condition. Sleep paralysis may also be a symptom of an underlying psychological issue, such as bipolar disorder, stress or anxiety. Another possible cause could be the use of certain medications, such as those prescribed for ADHD, or substance abuse.

How can Sleep Paralysis be Treated?

  • Improve your quality of sleep. People are most likely to suffer sleep paralysis when they are sleep deprived or jet-lagged, so making sure to get a full 6-8 hours of sleep per night can significantly reduce the chances of an attack. Making small changes to your bedtime routine, such as cutting out caffeine in the evenings, avoiding screens directly before bedtime, and not eating late at night, can be of great help in getting a good night’s sleep. Take time to wind down before bed, perhaps by reading or taking a bath, so you’ll be relaxed and ready to sleep by the time your head hits the pillow. Some people find that simply avoiding sleeping on their back is enough to prevent an attack. Getting adequate, regular sleep is often the best way to avoid sleep paralysis and can be easily achieved with just a few small changes to your sleeping habits.
  • Seek help for disorders and mental health problems. Sleep disorders such as night time leg cramps and narcolepsy can be a strong precursor for sleep paralysis, as most narcoleptics are affected by the condition. Seeking help from a doctor in managing the symptoms of such disorders can significantly help in preventing sleep paralysis from occurring. Similarly, getting treatment for mental health problems such as bipolar disorder or stress can be helpful in putting an end to the issue.
  • Speak to your doctor. In some cases, it may be beneficial to take a course of antidepressant medication if you are having serious problems with sleep paralysis. These should be prescribed to help regulate sleep cycles, as this can improve the length, regularity, and quality of sleep you get each night. Reviewing any current medication you are on can also be useful, as some types are known to exacerbate the condition.

Sleep paralysis is a surprisingly common condition that many of us will experience at least once. Although this phenomenon is poorly understood, there are many changes that can be made to sleep patterns and habits that can significantly lessen the chances of an attack. Often, sleep paralysis is symptomatic of an underlying disorder or psychological issue, which can be addressed with a range of treatments. However, many sufferers find the most important thing is to remember that, while deeply unpleasant, attacks of sleep paralysis are not harmful. Trying to stay calm during an attack can make the ordeal far less distressing, allowing sufferers to manage the condition until they can identify and treat its causes.

 

About the Author Robert J. Hudson

Chief editor here at Snore Nation and a proud father of two cool boys. I am a reformed snorer, a reformed smoker, a reformed overeater, a reformed city dweller and a reformed workaholic stress monster on the mission to share my insider tips to restore that quality sleep for you and your partner!

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