Although it isn’t as prevalent as sleep apnea, sleep paralysis is a common sleep disorder people suffer from. It usually begins in the teenage period, but most sleep paralysis instances are reported by people aged 20 to 40. If you, or someone from your close family, suffer from sleep paralysis, you may be familiar with how it can disrupt your sleep. But, in case you still need some information, continue reading this article and find out everything you need to know about sleep paralysis.
What is Sleep Paralysis?
People usually think of sleep paralysis as a nightmare but is so much more than that. It is actually a very frightening experience of not being able to move your muscles. It usually happens when falling asleep (predormital sleep paralysis) or waking up (hypnagogic or postdormital sleep paralysis) which means that you are mentally alert which is why this experience is so terrifying.
Sleep Paralysis Causes
The exact causes of sleep paralysis are, unfortunately, not identified completely. Yet, it is known that it disrupts REM (rapid eye movement) sleep which is when dreams occur. In general, it is thought that sleep paralysis occurs somewhere between REM and other sleep stages when we become alert.
Sleep Paralysis Risk Factors
Namely, people with chronic anxiety or depression, sleep disorders like sleep apnea or narcolepsy, sleep deprivation, PTSD, high blood pressure, or those taking sleep medications are at higher risk of suffering from sleep paralysis. Also, psychiatric patients (32 percent) and students (28 percent) are the most susceptible to sleep paralysis.
Sleep Paralysis Symptoms
The main symptoms of sleep paralysis include:
- Paralysis – inability to move while being aware is probably the most distinguishing and at the same time the most frightening symptom.
- Hallucinations – although it isn’t that common, some people may experience hallucinations since sleep paralysis happens in REM sleep.
- Physical symptoms – apart from paralysis, people suffering from this disorder may experience headaches, chest pressure, breathing difficulties, and generalized pain.
- Psychological symptoms – sleep paralysis patients often have mental issues including an intense feeling of fear, death, and even paranoia.
Plus, remember that sleep paralysis may happen once, several times, or constantly. According to a study, 8% of the world’s population experiences a sleep paralysis episode at least once in their lives while a smaller percentage has several episodes a week.
How to Eliminate Sleep Paralysis?
Luckily for all of you suffering from sleep paralysis, you can follow these tips and eliminate sleep paralysis for good:
Seek Professional Help
First and foremost, you have to seek professional help and schedule some therapy to address your mental health issues which can put you at higher risk of experiencing sleep paralysis episodes.
We all experience daily stress but it is of utmost importance to learn how to manage it better. Try what works for you, whether it is exercise, yoga, a chat with a close person, natural sunlight, anything that relaxes you and helps you refresh your mind.
Change Your Medications
If you take some meds regularly, make sure they aren’t connected with sleep paralysis. Sedative medications are one of the most common that increases the risk of sleep paralysis. Hence, in this case, ask your doctor for a switch.
Treat Other Sleep Disorders
Finally, ensure you don’t have other sleep disorders since they can negatively affect both your mental and physical health and contribute to sleep paralysis. But, if you still have another sleep disorder, make sure you treat it appropriately.