Sleep paralysis is a common condition marked by the inability to move the body or limbs, either during the onset of sleep or upon waking. It is sometimes accompanied by hypnagogic hallucinations. People with sleep paralysis should be assured that they dont have any mental or serious medical illness.
Sleep paralysis can run in families, but the actual cause of sleep paralysis is not agreed upon or even understood. Although this disorder is sometimes seen in people with narcolepsy, it occurs in many people who do not have narcolepsy.
This sleep disorder isnt harmful, but those experiencing sleep paralysis are frequently fearful since they do not know what is happening to them. Typically ended by stimuli such as sound or touch, within a matter minutes after a bout of sleep paralysis, the person is able to move again. This could occur just one time in your life, or can be recurrent.
Medications such as Sodium oxybate (Xyrem) may be prescribed as a cure for sleep paralysis in severe cases, but the best treatment for sleep paralysis is to reduce stress and get the proper amount of sleep.
Here are some steps to help you cope with Sleep Paralysis.
1. Learn to recognise your symptoms
Sleep paralysis affects different people in different ways. Knowing what to expect and how it affects you makes symptoms easier to deal with. Your experience may vary, but some symptoms include: sinister feelings of evil entities watching you, alien abductions, an intruder in your room, rape, an “old hag” attacking or suffocating you in your sleep, and many other frightening experiences that always take place while in a paralyzed state.
2. Learn about the experiences of others
It’s also easier to deal with such a frightening event when you know you’re not the only one. Talk about it with your friends. You may be surprised to learn someone you know has gone through similar occurrences.
3. Learn your triggers
Sleep paralysis is triggered by a diversity of situations. Some researchers concur that sleep paralysis is most frequently caused by the position you fall asleep in, usually when lying on your back. Triggers could be things in your life you have no control over, like stress, environment, even your dreams. Keep a journal of your episode of paralysis, tracking details of the experience, the time, your sleep pattern, sleeping position, mental/emotional state before and after you were paralyzed, and if you were paralyzed while falling asleep or upon waking up. This can all be useful information, especially if you decide to see a doctor about the condition.
4. Avoiding Triggers
The ideal way to cope with sleep paralysis is not to have it at all, and establishing your personal triggers and working to avoid them will appreciably lessen the chance of experiencing sleep paralysis. For example, if you have sleep paralysis every time you sleep on your back, try sleeping on your side or stomach. If your sleep paralysis happens whenever you work overtime, try to avoid overtime. It’s simple and effective.
5. Regular Sleep
Sleep patterns have a drastic effect on sleep paralysis. Keeping a regular healthy sleep pattern and getting enough sleep can reduce likelihood of sleep paralysis episodes. Aim to get 8-10 hours of sleep every night at the same time of night every night.
Although sleep paralysis can be frightening when accompanied by a hallucination, some people only experience the feeling of being paralyzed. When this happens, know that although 20 seconds might seem like five minutes, it’s not going to harm you. If you focus on moving, you can break out of it quickly. Try wiggling your big toe and you’ll be able to move the rest of your body in no time.
Sleep paralysis commonly starts at a young age and is most frequent during teenage years. Paralysis should become less and less frequent as you get older, and by the time you reach 30 years of age the symptoms may disappear completely.
Other Sleep Paralysis Tips
– Try taking slightly bigger and bigger breaths. Breathing is the one thing you can still control. Deeper breaths will bring more oxygen to the brain and will wake you up. – Eat healthy – Consider having a sleep study to diagnose whether the cause of the sleep paralysis may be sleep apnea. With proper treatment of a diagnosed sleep apnea condition, the sleep paralysis events may subside and/or disappear. – If you find you are experiencing paralysis as you are falling asleep, try sitting up and staring at a bright light for a minute or so before lying down again. No one is sure why, but this helps some people. – Make sure that you are actually awake. What you think is sleep paralysis could actually be a dream, and you will likely be able to discern whether or not it is a dream by moving into the next room. Try moving into the next room, or in general, away from where youre having the paralysis.