Everything You Need to Know About Sleep Paralysis

Sleeping is a complex event. There are different stages of sleeping, and one of them is the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage. During this stage, the brain ensures that your body and muscles are stationary, which protects you from hurting yourself when you have dreams. However, sleep paralysis occurs when you become conscious that you are either going into or coming out of the REM stage. During such an episode, you become conscious of your surroundings but cannot move or speak. You can even have hallucinations which make the episode more terrifying.

Over the last few decades and even centuries, the many symptoms of sleep paralysis have been attributed to one form of evil or the other. The resulting hallucinations that some experience has been attributed to the presence of an unclean spirit. Indeed, many cultures have placed some religious symbolism on this disorder.

There are two types of sleep paralysis —hypnagogic, predormital sleep paralysis, or hypnopompic or postdormital sleep paralysis. The former occurs while you are asleep, while the latter happens when you attempt to wake up.

Hypnagogic Sleep Paralysis

When trying to fall asleep, your body eases into a state of relaxation. When this happens, your brain causes you to be less aware of your body. Therefore, you need to know more about this change. However, when you remain conscious and aware while your body eases into this state of relaxation, you may notice that your body loses its ability to move or speak. This is known as hypnagogic sleep paralysis.

Hypnopompic Sleep Paralysis

When you sleep, your body usually alternates between Rapid Eye movement (REM) and Non-rapid Eye Movement (NREM). A complete cycle of alternating between these two body movements may take about 90 minutes. NREM takes up a massive part of our sleep cycle –about 75% of sleep time. The body relaxes and restores itself during this sleep cycle. REM begins at the end of the NREM cycle, where your dreams occur while your eyes move rapidly. All these continue to happen while your body remains relaxed. However, when you suddenly become aware before the end of the REM cycle, you may notice that your body cannot move or speak.

Who Develops Sleep Paralysis?

Sleep paralysis can occur across all age groups, although one may begin to notice such a pattern during their teen years. Sleep Paralysis can also be hereditary, as it has been seen to be passed down from one family member to another. Several other factors include:

1. Insomnia
2. Narcolepsy —a medical condition that causes the patient to fall asleep suddenly.
3. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
4. Panic disorder, etc.

How to Treat Sleep Paralysis

For most people, there is no need to treat such sleep patterns. However, when people have underlying medical conditions, such as narcolepsy, treatment may be beneficial to such patients.

These treatments include:

● Improving your sleep habits: You must get at least six to eight hours of sleep.
● Those who struggle to regulate their sleep patterns naturally may use antidepressant medications.
● If there are any underlying mental conditions, these may affect a person’s sleep pattern.
Therefore, you must deal with the mental conditions first.
● Finally, you must treat any prior sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy.