What Is Sleep Paralysis
This is a state when you cannot move or speak as you are waking up. Imagine opening your eyes and not being able to move, it can be pretty scary. It’s totally harmless. Most people will experience this phenomenon once or twice in their lives.
When Does Sleep Paralysis Occur?
It occurs at one of two times
- If it occurs while falling asleep. It is called Hypnagogic or Pre-dormital . In this type, your body slowly relaxes and you become less aware. If you become aware while falling asleep, you may notice that you are not able to move.
- While, if it occurs while waking up. It is called Hypnopompic or Post-dormital. Your eyes move rapidly underneath your eyelids and you are about to wake up from sleep
How Does It Feel
An estimated 75% of sleep paralysis episodes involve hallucinations
- Intruder Hallucination: This involves the perception of a dangerous person or presence in the room.
- Suffocating Hallucination: It is also called incubus hallucinations. The person involved feels like they are being suffocated
- Vestibular Motor Hallucination: This involves feelings of movement e.g., flying, eating, running, fighting.
Types of Sleep Paralysis
Isolatory Sleep paralysis: This is when the episodes are not connected to an underlying disease e.g. narcolepsy.
Recurrent Sleep Paralysis: This is when multiple episodes happen over time.
The exact cause is unknown. However, certain factors can be linked to the development of sleep paralysis
- Lack of sleep
- Irregular sleep schedule
- Mental conditions e.g., stress, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia
- Drug abuse
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. (PTSD)
Signs and Symptoms
Although not all symptoms present themselves in patients. Here are a few common symptoms
- Inability to speak when waking up
- Having hallucinations
- Feeling of pressure in the chest
- Difficulty in breathing while sleeping
- Profuse sweating
Sleep paralysis rarely occurs, so treatment is not needed. If the cause is known e.g. lack of sleep, this can be rectified by getting adequate sleep. Some medications can also be used in treating this condition.
According to the American Sleep Association, sleep paralysis occurs because of a ‘cross-over’ between different sleep stages. Specifically, there is a transition that occurs between REM sleep and wake.
There are certain devices called sleep aids. These devices help the individual in achieving good sleep. These devices can range from dark-colored curtains to sleeping lamps to soothing music or sound wave music.
You should contact your doctor if you have repeated episodes of paralysis.
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