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Sunday, 29 August 2021

What is Sleep Paralysis?

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Sudden wakeup from sleep, being overcome by strange feelings, and considering yourself helpless are not new to humans. The symptoms of these feelings have been described in many ways from ancient times. Every culture throughout history has stories about this helplessness frightening experience.

People have been trying o investigate the reasons for these feelings and their symptoms. Scientists explain that this paralysis happens whenever we sleep and in the REM stage, but it can also occur while we are somewhat aware.

Although these conditions seem harmless, sufferers of this problem can prevent it by a better understanding sleep paralysis: duration, causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.

What is Sleep Paralysis?

Sleep paralysis is a condition identified as remaining conscious with a brief loss of muscle control and inability to move, except for your eyes. An occurrence of sleep paralysis can happen between stages of wakefulness and sleep and can last from few seconds to few minutes.

What happens during sleep paralysis?

These feelings can occur:

  • A feeling of suspicion
  • Feeling the presence of someone in your room
  • The perception of someone pressing on your chest or choking you
  • Vivid hallucinations

There are not enough studies to demonstrate why or how these hallucinations occur, although neurological disturbances can be a reason for these conditions.

What develops sleep paralysis?

Sleep paralysis is common; however, studies are still in progress to conclude solids reasons, but it can be linked with:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Change in sleeping schedule
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Sleeping on back
  • Use of specific medication
  • Anxiety
  • Narcolepsy

When does sleep paralysis occur?

During sleep, the body relaxes, and we don’t move. Sleep has different stages, and our body alternates between REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and NREM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement) stages. Most of our sleep is in the NREM stage, and in the REM stage, we usually dream. Sleeps paralysis involves interruption of the REM (rapid eye movement) cycle and when the body’s switch to or from REM is out of sync with the brain.

How is sleep paralysis diagnosed?

Sleep paralysis is harmless, but recurring events can lead to symptoms of depression and anxiety. Sleep paralysis can be categorized in two terms:

  1. Isolated sleep paralysis is when sleep paralysis is occasional and not connected.
  2. Recurrent sleep paralysis involves multiple, linked occurrences over time.

The first case is usual, and no need to be diagnosed by a doctor. But the second case needs to be properly investigated and treated by the doctor.

What is the treatment of sleep paralysis?

Mostly this trauma doesn’t need special treatment and can be addressed through practice of the following:

  • Improving sleep habits by taking 6 to 8 hours of sleep without disruption
  • Treatment of any underlying psychological reasons
  • Following the same sleeping schedule even on the weekends
  • Using medication if prescribed by the doctor to regulate your sleep cycle
  • Practicing lucid dreaming with CBI (Cognitive behavior therapy)

Suppose your sleep paralysis is leading you towards fear of sleeping and turning into depression. In that case, you must visit a physician who can refer you to a sleep specialist doctor to treat this professionally.