Sleep Paralysis

Have you ever tried moving your body at night but you could not do it? Doctors call this condition sleep paralysis. Your brain may be conscious, but your body remains inactive. In the past, many people associated this condition with night demons. It may be a terrifying experience, but it is not demonic.

Sleep paralysis may not necessarily be a sign of an underlying condition. It may signify that your body is not having enough rest. Sleep is divided into different stages, and sleep paralysis symbolizes that your body is not going through the sleep cycle as it should. In this case, the body passes some stages between sleep and wakefulness. We will help you understand the condition better and tell you how you can manage it. Read on!

How does sleep paralysis occur?

sleep paralysis occur

The condition can occur twice within one night. It may happen when you are trying to fall asleep or when you are preparing to wake up. The first phase is called predormital sleep paralysis while the second is known as postdormital sleep paralysis. When you are preparing to sleep, the body tends to relax, and you start getting less aware. If you continue remaining aware while trying to fall asleep, you may be unable to speak or move, leading to predormital sleep paralysis.

Postdormital paralysis occurs at the wee hours of the morning. As you sleep, the body transitions between the non-rapid eye movement and rapid eye movement. A complete cycle between the two should last for one and a half hours. Non-rapid eye movement is the first to occur, and it takes up most of your sleep time.

The end of NREM marks the beginning of REM which causes your eyes to move and dreams to occur. At this point, your body is still relaxing, and the muscles are turned off. Becoming aware before the end of the REM cycle is what causes postdormital paralysis. It may also hinder body movement.

Different factors can trigger the condition such as the lack of sleep, inconsistent sleep schedules, and a wrong sleep position. Mental conditions like bipolar disorder or stress may also aggregate sleep paralysis. It may come as a result of poor lifestyle choices such as substance abuse.

Some medication including those used to treat ADHD can also cause sleep paralysis. The symptoms may be different in individuals, but you may experience decreased heart rate, a sense of suffocation, fear or hallucinations.

How can you manage it?

Though sleep paralysis can seem scary, it is not a dangerous condition. It only needs some lifestyle changes and better sleep habits to minimize the occurrences. Start with the following tips

Sleep enough

Many are the times when we hear this advice but ignore it. Enough sleep can prevent you from experiencing sleep paralysis since your body can go through all the stages of sleep smoothly. Prioritize sleep over other things when it is time to rest and ensure you have at least 6 hours of rest without any disturbances.

Prepare the environment

Your bedroom should be in the best state for you to spend enough hours sleeping. Your sleep environment should be ready for you to focus on sleeping alone. A cool room that is well ventilated increases your comfort level while relaxing.

Get sleep accessories such as earplugs to block out any noise and make the room dim to prevent the penetration of light. Prevent yourself from tossing at night by getting a comfortable mattress from Simba mattress. The simple upgrades that you make in your bedroom could be the key to ending any symptoms of sleep paralysis.

Adjust your sleep position

Sleep researchers reveal that back sleeping increases the chances of getting sleep paralysis. This is because the tongue falls back on the throat leading to the blockage of air. Try side sleeping to prevent this from happening. If you are not used to the position, you can place a tennis ball on the back side of your nightgown to make it uncomfortable to lie on your back.

Avoid fighting it

Fighting back can worsen the condition. It also increases fear by stimulating your brain’s emotional center. Therefore, try to control your fear and don’t fight it until you can move. Relax and concentrate on your breathing as you move with the flow. Controlled breathing reduces the chances of experiencing chest pain and make it easy for you to wake up.

Maintain a sleep schedule

Make your body get used to the same routine every day so that you can sleep without problems when its time and wake up effortlessly. A routine helps you sleep better, and curbs sleep paralysis. Get the help of a sleep cue to keep you relaxed before bedtime. You can read an exciting book or practice meditation. Do not get upset if you have difficulties sleeping. Try writing any worries in a sleep journal.

Concentrate on body movement

Though your whole body may not move during sleep paralysis, try moving some parts such as your fingers, tongue, and toes. It is such small movements that can help you break the paralysis so that you can move the rest of the body parts.

Try to clench your fist or move your toe. Focus on one body part and visualize it moving. Projecting body movement can help you deal with anxiety during sleep paralysis. You can also seek support from your sleep partner to help you during episodes.

Talk to your doctor

Visiting the doctor can help you rule out narcolepsy which sometimes causes sleep paralysis. This comes with extreme fatigue and drowsiness during the day. It may also affect your muscles and make them weak. A doctor can identify if it is the cause of your condition and address it accordingly. They recognize narcolepsy through conducting a sleep study on victims. Share your triggers with them to help them understand your condition. If you are going through depression or anxiety, the doctor can prescribe antidepressants which can control your sleep cycle.