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Six Things To Consider If You Have Sleep Paralysis

 November 9, 2018

By  Deborah L Weiner Katz, OTR/L, CCM, CLCP

Six Things To Consider If You Have Sleep Paralysis

Imagine waking up and not being able to move a muscle. You may try to wake up from what you are certain is a nightmare, only to find that for a few terrifying moments, it is not. It is real. This is a condition known as sleep paralysis.

According to Dr. Clete Kushida, medical director of the Stanford Sleep Medicine Center, “about 40% of the population has had at least one episode of sleep paralysis.”

What do we know about sleep paralysis? More importantly, how can we prevent it? As always, information is ammunition. Let’s have a look:

It happens when you are awake.

Sleep paralysis may be a misleading term because it does not actually occur while you are asleep. It occurs when you are either falling asleep or waking up. What causes this temporary loss of voluntary muscle control? Researchers don’t know but they have theories. One is that an evolutionary action that normally occurs during REM sleep, or dream sleep, is occurring for some reason. During dream sleep, a form of paralysis occurs to protect us from hurting ourselves while we are dreaming.

You may hallucinate.

Out of the 40% of people with sleep paralysis, three quarters experience hallucinations. Their eyes are open. Imagine that. They are not dreaming. It is not a nightmare. Common hallucinations include feeling sensation on the skin, hearing things, seeing things, feeling like someone is in the room with you or even levitation.

It does not last long.

Sleep paralysis usually passes within seconds or minutes. However, in that state of mind, your sense of time may be relative. Depending on the experience, it could feel like an eternity.

It is indiscriminate.

As far as experts can tell, it can happen to anyone. Gender does not play a role. Age-wise, it can start when you are a teenager or later, in your 20s and 30s. It may even be genetic.

Sleep deprivation leads to sleep paralysis.

At least we can pinpoint a bad habit that you should eliminate anyway. People who do not get enough sleep are more prone to this condition. Whether it is the standard seven or eight or your own magic number, make the necessary adjustments. Is stress a suspect in terms of what causes your sleep troubles? Take the necessary steps to minimize stress if you are predisposed to sleep analysis.

See a specialist.

There is such a thing as sleep hygiene, complete with specialists that can help you improve it. Sleep paralysis is just one of the issues that can be treated. For example, narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that causes severe, excessive daytime sleepiness. One of its symptoms is sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis may also be a sign that you have sleep apnea or periodic limb movement disorder. This is when your legs twitch or jerk during sleep. You might as well rule out all sleep problems while you visit.

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