Get to Know Sleep Paralysis

I was thrilled when my sister told me that she has been experiencing unusual inability to move and feeling being choked in the middle of the night while she was sleeping. I was a little concerned knowing that it happened to her not only once and she kept saying that when it happens it is around 3 in the morning. Though she can sleep after each incident, she is anxious that it might happen to her anytime she sleeps. So, I get to ask to professionals about it and made some research and here what I found. If you have been experiencing this also then you should read up until the end to know what, why and how to prevent this thing called, Sleep Paralysis.

Sleep paralysis is simply a sign that our body is not smoothly moving through the stages of sleep. However, this condition is not linked or rarely associated with any underlying psychiatric problem.

Over time, sleep paralysis’ symptoms are often associated with an evil presence like old hag from Romeo and Juliet, night demons, and aliens. Because most cultures all over the world includes stories of helpless human beings terrified by evils creatures at night. Thus, making this unexplained sleeping condition gives fear to human. What is sleep paralysis? What really is it? Below is information that you should know and remember.

Sleep Paralysis

Sleep paralysis is defined as the inability to move despite feeling conscious. It happens when a person goes through the stage between sleep and wakefulness. On this stage you might feel inability to speak or move for a few seconds or minutes. Others may feel pressure or feel of being choked for a while. Though it linked to any psychological problem, it could be due to narcolepsy (strong need of sleeping due to the brain’s problem of regulating sleep).

When it comes to as to when does sleep paralysis usually happen, it could be when you are sleeping or even when you are awake. If you are sleeping, it is called predormital or hypnagogic sleep paralysis. And it is called postdormital or hypnopompic sleep paralysis when you are waking up. Sleep paralysis happens in 40% of the population so it is really common and not really that terrifying it you have to think of it.

Predormital or Hypnagogic Sleep Paralysis

Our body relaxes slowly as we sleep and we become less aware and so we don’t notice any change. Predormtal Sleep Paralysis happens when we become aware and we notice that we cannot speak nor move.

Postdormital or Hypnopompic Sleep Paralysis

Postdormial Sleep Paralysis however, happens when you become aware before REM cycle is finished. When we sleep, we experience NREM and REM cycle which will take up until 90 minutes. NREM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement) cycle is when our body is relaxes and it takes 75% of our whole sleeping time. REM (Rapid Eye Movement) cycle on the other hand, is when your muscles get turned off.  When NREM finishes it shifts to REM where your body is relaxed, your eyes move quickly and your dreams occur. When you get aware before REM is done, that’s when you experience inability to speak or move.

Who experiences Sleep Paralysis?

Four out of ten people experiences sleep paralysis. This common condition is common in teenagers though it can happen to anyone regardless of age, race, and gender. This can also be passed on to families.  Though there are also a few more factors that are linked to sleep paralysis:

  • Change of sleep schedule
  • Lack of sleep
  • Stress
  • Mental disorder such as Bipolar disorder
  • Substance Abuse
  • Sleeping in supine position
  • Sleeping problem (narcolepsy, nighttime cramps)
  • Use of ADHD medications

When to see the doctor?

Get an appointment with a doctor is you have experienced any of the following:

  • Feeling anxious with your symptoms
  • Unable to sleep during night because of the symptoms
  • Feeling of tiredness on day time due to the sleep paralysis symptoms

What to do to prevent or treat Sleep Paralysis?

Treatment of sleep paralysis is to treat its underlying cause. So if you have narcolepsy, treat narcolepsy. Although here are some things that you can do:

  • Sleeping habit improvement- make sure you get 6 to 8 hours of sleep every night.
  • Treat any mental problem that is contributing to sleep paralysis. Consult with your doctor.
  • Use of antidepressant medication to regulate sleep cycle.
  • Treat your leg cramps.

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