Sleep paralysis, nightmares, or demons? Many people complain about having sleep paralysis during sleep. Even in today’s age, people relate it with demons and superstitious thoughts. However, this is not true.
There are multiple health reasons for facing such kind of problem. In this article, we will help you understand what sleep paralysis is, facts, its causes, symptoms, and treatment. If you want to know everything about sleep paralysis, keep reading till the end.
6 Facts About Sleep Paralysis
- Accompanied by an inability to move and speak.
- A person feel stuck
- Sometimes provokes hallucinations and choking.
- More common in adolescents, but possible at any age.
- Usually occurs due to stress and sleep disruptions.
- It is not life-threatening but sometimes requires medical intervention.
What Is Sleep Paralysis?
Sleep paralysis is a condition that occurs when you wake up or fall asleep. A few seconds or minutes on the verge of sleep and wakefulness a person:
- A person is conscious but unable to move and speak.
- Feel someone else’s presence in the room.
- Feels like someone or something is pressing on the chest, strangling, and dragging down.
- Experiencing severe fright
Studies show that 7.6% of the world’s population had this experience at least once. And almost 35% of people diagnosed with panic attacks experience sleep paralysis all the time.
Categories Of Sleep Paralysis
Experts divide the stories of victims of sleep paralysis into three categories:
- Uninvited Guest: The sound of footsteps and opening doors. The shadow of a person, a sense of someone else’s presence, and threat.
- Demon: A feeling of heaviness on the chest, difficulty breathing, a feeling of suffocation or sexual abuse, and fear of death.
- Strange Bodily Sensations: Sensations of leaving the body, free fall, and flight. Rotation of the bed in the air and other vestibular hallucinations.
Causes of Sleep Paralysis
Paralysis is a natural part of sleep. Sleep consists of cycles, within which the phase of slow sleep (Non-REM sleep) and the phase of REM sleep (REM phase) alternate. This takes up 75% of the sleep cycle; the body rests and recovers. While in the REM stage, dreams appear. In this phase, the brain partially paralyzes the muscles so that the person cannot harm themselves.
Usually, the transition between phases is imperceptible, but sometimes a failure occurs. Consciousness fixes the inability to move, dreams mix with reality, and panic arises. Hypnagogic sleep paralysis occurs when falling asleep and the more rare hypnopompic paralysis characteristic of awakening is distinguished.
Causes of sleep phase disruption and sleep paralysis can be:
- Failure of the sleep mode: Due to shifting work, jet lag, long daytime sleep or lack of the habit of going to bed and getting up at the same time
- Prolonged lack of sleep
- The habit of sleeping on your back
- Certain medications (for example, for hyperactivity disorder).
- Addiction to alcohol, tobacco, or caffeine shortly before bedtime.
These attacks occur in four out of ten healthy people of any age and gender. This paralysis is not included in the list of medical diagnoses. Moreover, it is not a symptom of the disease and is not always accompanied by hallucinations, suffocation, and panic attacks. This syndrome is called isolated paralysis. From the point of view of doctors, it is unpleasant but safe.
Symptoms And Treatment
Medical symptoms of sleep paralysis:
- A person feels that he/she has been in this state for several minutes. Therefore, he/she is not able to speak, open eyes, or even speak.
- Anxiety disorders
- Preservation of consciousness
- Feeling of pressure on the chest and neck, choking
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Clinical depression
- Vestibular, auditory and visual hallucinations. Inability to separate reality from fiction
- Obstructive sleep apnea (respiratory arrest during sleep)
- Panic attack – severe fright, intense sweating; a feeling of impending death.
- Headache and muscle pain
If attacks recur frequently and lead to a high level of anxiety and constant fatigue due to lack of sleep, you need to see a doctor to determine the cause that is causing them. In this case, a doctor treats sleep paralysis together with the underlying disease. At the same time, to improve the quality and duration of sleep, the doctor may:
- Refer the patient to a sleep specialist to conduct research
- Prescribe antidepressants
- Suggest keeping a diary. In this diary, you have to note down your sleeping routine.
What Can You Do Yourself
You can control recurrent cases of isolated sleep paralysis independently. There is no specific treatment for sleep stupor, but experts recommend conventional methods to reduce stress and improve sleep patterns. Let’s see what habits are worth acquiring and which ones to give up.
Things You Should Do
- Regularly sleep at least 6-8 hours a day
- Make sure that the bedroom is dark, clean, and cool
- Take care of a comfortable place to sleep
- Make a schedule of sleeping and waking up on time.
- Use dim lighting in the evenings
- Exercise regularly, but no later than four hours before bedtime
- Come up with relaxing evening rituals. For example, listening to pleasant music, reading, showering, meditating, and aromatherapy.
Things You Should Avoid
- Give up the habit of sleeping on your back
- Minimize the usage of gadgets.
- Not working in the bedroom or lying in bed
- Try not to sleep in the afternoon after 15:00 for more than 90 minutes
- Give up a heavy dinner, alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine before bedtime.
Sleep paralysis is a fairly common condition. It occurs very rarely, lasts a very short time, and does not pose a danger to life. It is not necessary to prevent and treat it. Strictly speaking, this is not a disease, but a failure of the normal physiological mechanism for changing sleep stages. Therefore, do not worry. If these episodes are regular, you should consult a doctor. Through medication or therapies, your condition will get better.