According to WebMD,Sleep paralysis is a feeling of being conscious, but not able to move. It occurs when a person passes between stages of sleepandwakefulness.
Certainly, there is nothing more strange than to wake up and not being able to move any part of your body, although you are completely aware of everything around you. The condition is known as sleep paralysis, and it is very frightening phenomenon.
In this case, the person is entirely conscious, but his/her body is completelyparalyzed. As the person cannot control the body, she/he becomes really terrified and disturbed.
Nevertheless, you need to know that this phenomenon is frequent and does not cause any physical damage to your body. Namely, it occurs during one of two stages -“hypnagogic” and “hypnopompic”.
The hypnagogic happens just before falling asleep, while hypnopompic sleep paralysis occurs as soon as the person wakes up from rapid eye movement, REM,sleep.
When we fall asleep, our body gets relaxed and our mind becomes less aware. However, in the case of hypnagogic sleep paralysis, the mind remains aware while the body is in an unconscious relaxation state. So, the person realizes that although he tries hard, he/she cannot move, and this may cause a panic attackbecause it is extremely terrifying.
On the other hand, in REM sleep, our muscles are paralyzed, but as soon as we experience hypnopompic sleep paralysis, specific part of our brain wakes. Yet, this doesn’t mean that the part of the brain that controls the REM paralysis wakes too. And so, a person may be in an awaken state, but he cannot voluntary control his muscles.
there are people who have never experienced this phenomenon, or some have gone through it once or twice in their life. But, there are people who experience it often, even several times inone week.
The Penn State UniversityAccording conducted a study, which is said that around 8% of the population frequently experiences sleep paralysis.
Furthermore, individuals with mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety, are more disposed to frequent episodes of these problems, along with people with an underlying sleep condition, those with sleep apnea, and personsthat take some specific medications.
WebMD revealed a list of the risk factors:
- Lack of sleep
- Sleeping on the back
- Sleep problems like nighttime leg cramps or narcolepsy
- Mental conditions, like bipolar disorder or stress
- Frequent changes in sleep schedule
- Substance abuse
- Certain medications, like the ones with ADHD
When a sleep paralysis happens, people cannot move or speak for several seconds or minutes, usually shortly after they have fallen asleep, or immediately after waking up.
In general, this problem is not medically treated, but sometimes your doctor might inquire into other aspects of the sleep health, and if the sleep conditions worsen, he may even ask for help from a sleep specialist.
Usually there is not a prescribed treatment, because this paralysis happens naturally. Yet, if a specialist finds another underlying condition while diagnosing, he may prescribe a treatment, like:
- Prescription for sleeping aids
- Prescription for an anti-depressant
- Treatment of any underlying sleep disorders
- Implementation of a sleeping schedule
- Referral to a mental health professional
- Referral to a sleep specialist
Sometimes, you can prevent sleep paralysis episodes if you successfully reduce the stress before going to sleep and make a healthy sleep your priority.
Moreover, if this happened to you once, you should not immediately seek a professional help. If these problems are rare, specialists advise that you pay more attention to your sleeping habits, and to sleep well for around 8 hours, since sleep deficiency often contributes to the occurrence of these problems.
Also, you should reduce or completely eliminate the intake of nicotine, caffeine, alcohol and drugs, and while sleeping,keep your electronic devices away from your bed.
However, if you have experienced a sleep paralysis, it is possible that it will happen again, so remember that it’s nothing terrifying and it will pass very quickly, so try to stay calm.