Sleep paralysis is a terrifying condition that occurs during sleep. Though it is not harmful and is a benign condition, it can be extremely unsettling and disturbing for people who experience it. In sleep paralysis, the person experiencing it is in a conscious state but is unable to move his body.
People experience a heavy feeling on their chest and feel as if someone is pressing them in the mattress. Hallucinations and delusions are very common during sleep paralysis making it more frightening and scary.
Over the centuries, symptoms of sleep paralysis have been explained and often connected to an “evil” presence. Almost every culture and religion throughout history had stories of shadowy evil creatures that terrify helpless humans at night.
Consider watching this video to know more about what is sleep paralysis….
Sleep paralysis may accompany other sleep disorders such as narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is an overpowering need to sleep caused by a problem with the brain’s ability to regulate sleep.
Not being able to understand what is happening to your body, either you are awake or not. The things you are seeing and hearing are real or not. All of this makes it more complicated and problematic. This video may help you in calming down your anxiety as you learn that it is not as dangerous as it appears to be.
Sleep paralysis occurs when your body transitions from sleep to wakefulness or wakefulness to sleep. If it happens while falling asleep, then it is called hypnagogic sleep paralysis. And hypnopompic sleep paralysis if it occurs while waking up.
Every sleep cycle has two major parts i.e., REM sleep (rapid eye movement) and NREM sleep (non-rapid eye movement).
These two significant divisions have further stages that make up the whole sleep cycle. In the first part, non-REM, you gradually go through three stages of sleep. With each step, your breathing pattern grows more rhythmic, and you become less likely to awaken, even from loud noises. After these three stages, a person progresses into REM sleep, when dreaming occurs. During this stage, a neurotransmitter called glycine puts your body into a temporary phase of paralysis. Your body can still move involuntary muscles, such as the diaphragm responsible for breathing, but your arms, legs, and other voluntary muscles will always be kept still. If you suddenly wake up from REM sleep, the glycine-mediated paralysis may still be in effect, even though you’re now conscious. During this period, you might not be able to move for several seconds to a few minutes. As your breathing patterns are slow and relaxed, you may feel choked and suffocated as you can’t take deep breaths. At this stage, the heavy feeling on your chest occurs.
All of these symptoms are harmless and do no physical or mental damage to your body and can be prevented. It occurs as the body is experiencing sleep inertia and has not accepted that you have woken up.
Sleep paralysis can run in families or have many other causes like jet lag, lack of sleep, stress, anxiety, etc. The people who have been through traumatic experiences are more likely to get sleep paralysis than the others. Although no specific cause is there, there can be many or none at all.
Treating the underlying cause of frequent episodes of sleep paralysis is the best strategy.
The people with traumatic histories may benefit from psychotherapy. For most people, the best technique is to keep a regular and consistent sleep schedule. Pick a regular bedtime that works for you, and make it a priority to get the number of hours of sleep that leaves you consistently feeling refreshed throughout the day.
Understanding the physiology of sleep and the mechanism for sleep paralysis is an important step to overcoming it.
Until Next Time,
Team Doctor ASKY!