Sleep Conditions: All You Need to Know About Sleep Paralysis

Woman with sleep paralysis having troubles sleeping

For any person, sleep is essential because it influences our overall health and well-being. When well-rested, we feel refreshed and ready to take on anything. Otherwise, we feel tired, and our productivity, mood and mental health is affected. While sleeping is a straightforward task, many people experience conditions that affect their sleep quality. One perfect example of this is sleep paralysis.

Sleep paralysis is an inability to move or speak from being awake to asleep or while waking up. For many people, this is a frightening experience because the brain is in a state between sleep and wakefulness, which can manifest itself in various ways. This can result in hallucinations and other terrifying experiences. Not many people know more about sleep paralysis, so we’ll discuss the details in this article.

 

More about Sleep Paralysis

Sleep paralysis affects everyone and is necessary during some stages of sleep such as REM. If you did not experience paralysis during REM, you would act out your dreams and could cause harm to others or yourself. REM sleep is the stage during which our brain activity is the most intense and is also when the brain transitions from being asleep to the lightest stages of sleep or awake.

When this transition becomes difficult, a disorder of the REM paralysis occurs. This is when the person is awake or partially awake but cannot move or speak. The person will enter sleep paralysis, but the brain doesn’t realize it and will insist that the person is still sleeping.

Sleep paralysis is divided into two distinct categories. These are:

 

Isolated Sleep Paralysis

Isolated sleep paralysis is when a person experiences sleep paralysis once or rarely. Persons experiencing isolated sleep paralysis will probably not have sleep paralysis syndrome, but it’s still possible. If you’ve never experienced sleep paralysis and you have isolated sleep paralysis, the episode should be short, lasting between 5-10 seconds.

 

Recurrent Sleep Paralysis

Recurrent sleep paralysis is when the episodes of sleep paralysis are more frequent and last longer. If you have recurrent sleep paralysis, you will experience other symptoms, which will be more and more severe.

 

What Sleep Paralysis Feels Like

At its core, sleep paralysis is being awake but physically paralyzed. It’s impossible to move your body, but your brain is still awake, and you experience the world around you.

Muscle atonia is attributed to paralysis, which means all your muscles are relaxed. The peripheral nervous system does not send any signals to your muscles, and the brain does not send any signals for your muscles to contract, which causes the body to go limp.

Many people also report that when they experience sleep paralysis, they feel like there is an intruder in the room, and they experience hallucinations.

Chest pressure is also a common symptom of sleep paralysis. This is when a person will experience a lot of chest pressure and even chest pain. The disturbing thing is that the pain will typically have no physical explanation.

 

Treatment Options

Treating sleep paralysis is not easy because its causes are very complicated. Some of these include:

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Inadequate or stressful sleeping environment
  • Mental disorders (such as depression)
  • Brain injuries
  • Mid-sleep wake up

Beyond that, there is little evidence to suggest a precise treatment for sleep paralysis. It’s best to consult with a sleep doctor to determine the best way to treat sleep paralysis episodes. They may recommend the following measures:

  • Sticking to a sleep schedule
  • Consuming less caffeine and alcohol
  • Avoiding sleep medication or trying a different type if you are on sleep medication
  • Using a body pillow
  • Practicing relaxation techniques (such as meditation)
  • Fixing your bedroom to foster a good sleeping environment
  • Not using electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bed

All of these measures are worth trying, but you must remember that your sleep schedule is the most important thing. Don’t let yourself fluctuate with your sleep schedule and insist on getting enough rest every day. If you stick to the schedule, the sleep paralysis episodes will become less frequent and severe.

 

Conclusion

Sleep paralysis is scary, especially since it can lead to other frightening experiences. If you’ve experienced sleep paralysis, consult a sleep physician or your primary care physician for more information and treatment options. All that matters is finding the best solution to avoid sleep paralysis.

If you’re looking for a sleep clinic in Vancouver, Sleep Better Live Better can help you! Quality sleep is essential for a person’s well-being, so our sleep specialists will recommend solutions to ensure you get it. Simply go to our website to book a consultation!