Sleep Paralysis

Sleep Paralysis

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Sleep Paralysis is a type of sleep disorder that is experienced when a person, upon waking up or going to sleep, finds that they cannot move their body or even speak. Sometimes the sufferer may even feel like they’re being choked. In most cases, the condition may last from a few seconds to several minutes. It can be very frightening! Throughout the centuries, superstitious people have attributed these scary episodes to the presence of evil spirits or spells and even alien abduction.

This is not a dangerous condition however, and is relatively common. According to research, sleep paralysis is the body’s natural protection mechanism that prevents us from physically acting out what we experience in dreams. But, when this condition happens during a waking state it is due to the body not properly transitioning between sleep and consciousness. It is called predormital sleep paralysis when the condition happens at the onset of the sleep cycle and postdormital sleep paralysis when it happens upon awakening.

There are many different symptoms associated with sleep paralysis. The most common are as follows:

  • Inability to move certain parts of the body when starting to fall asleep, or when waking up
  • Partial or complete paralysis of the musculoskeletal system
  • Hallucinations – which may be a combination of both visual and auditory disturbances
  • Inability to speak when an episode occurs
  • Sensation of being choked or feeling an immense amount of pressure on their body
  • Anxiety as a result of fearing onset of a sleep paralysis episode

Sleep ParalysisCAUSE:
According to statistics, approximately four of every ten individuals may suffer from this sleep disorder. People may first notice this condition when in their teens, but episodes can occur in men and women at any age. In many cases, the cause is felt to be directly related to genetics. However, there are many other factors that may result in the onset of the symptoms of this sleep condition. They are as follows:

  • Changes or mild adjustments to their sleep schedule
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Stress
  • Psychiatric conditions such as anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder
  • Underlying medical conditions such as leg cramps or narcolepsy
  • Certain types of chemicals found in prescription drugs and illicit drugs

In the majority of cases, those that experience this disorder do not require any special type of treatment. However, medical professionals have suggested the following courses of actions to those that find sleep paralysis to be exceptionally troublesome:

  • Improving their sleep habits
  • Scheduling seven to eight hours of sleep nightly
  • Sticking to a regular bedtime schedule
  • Making lifestyle changes such as eliminating the use of caffeine and alcohol prior to bed.
  • If underlying physiological or psychological conditions exist, a doctor may try to treat those problems in order to eliminate the occurrence of sleep paralysis
  • Medications to properly regulate sleep cycle

If you feel as if you are suffering from sleep paralysis, you should voice your concerns with your doctor. Upon doing so, they will likely evaluate your general health, habits and stress levels to determine if you are truly suffering from this sleep disorder and the severity of your case. Once a confirmed diagnosis is made, the medical professional will explain treatment options that may help provide relief for your condition.

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