In case you have ever woken up unable to move any body part, you have experienced sleep paralysis, that occurs when you pass between stages of wakefulness and sleep, or the “hypnagogic” and “hypnopompic” stage.
Before falling asleep the first stage occurs, and the other happens as soon as you wake from the REM phase. That is strange and extremely frightening, that cause a panic attack, as you cannot control your own body.
It is common phenomenon, and cannot cause any physical damage to the body.
Our body relaxes and the mind becomes less aware when we fall asleep, while in the hypnagogic sleep paralysis, the mind remains aware, the body is in an involuntary relaxation state, but we cannot move.
On the other hand, during REM sleep, the muscles are paralyzed, but the brain wakes when the person experiences hypnopompic sleep paralysis.
According to Penn State University study, around 8 percent of the population frequently experiences sleep paralysis.
Sleep paralysis happen in people suffering from some sleep issues, like sleep apnea, in the case of mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety, or due to the use of some medications.
These are the risk factors, according to WebMD:
- Substance abuse
- Sleep issues such as nighttime leg cramps or narcolepsy
- Mental conditions, like bipolar disorder or stress
- Frequent changes in sleep schedule
- Lack of sleep
- Sleeping on the back
- Certain medications, like the ones used for ADHD
This issue is characterized by an inability to speak or move for several seconds or minutes, and it is not treated with medications.
In situation when doctors diagnose some other underlying condition that causes it, they prescribe some of the following treatments:
- Implementation of a sleeping schedule
- Prescription for sleeping aids
- Referral to a mental health professional
- Treatment of any underlying sleep disorders
- Referral to a sleep specialist
- Prescription for an anti-depressant
By managing stress and improving your sleep you can prevent this disorder.
In case you rarely experience sleep paralysis, do not seek professional help, try to improve your sleeping habits instead.
You should limit the intake of caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and avoid using electronic devices at bedtime. If you experience a sleep paralysis remember that you need to remain calm, as it is nothing serious or terrifying, and it will be over very soon.