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Can Sleep Apnea Cause Sleep Paralysis

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Why You Should Avoid Napping During The Day

Sleep disorder causes ‘terrifying’ feelings of paralysis

Taking a nap can help you feel more alert during the day, but it can also contribute to keeping you awake at night by adding to your sleep drive, which works in tandem with the bodys circadian rhythm. In short, taking a nap resolves the bodys desire to sleep temporarily, but in the long-term, youll struggle to sleep when nighttime rolls around. In saying that, if you struggle with narcolepsy, a condition that makes you suddenly fall asleep, especially during the day, you should consult with a physician as remediating this underlying problem can help sleep-related paralysis.

Who Is Likely To Experience Sleep Paralysis

This condition is most often first noticed during the teenage years, but people of every age have reported experiencing sleep paralysis. It generally does not occur in people who are sleeping normally.

Several factors have been identified to increase the incidence of sleep paralysis, including the following:

  • Sleep deprivation, caused by insomnia, work schedule changes, major lifestyle changes , etc.
  • Inconsistent sleep schedule, including changing bedtimes or erratic waking times
  • Stress or other anxiety-inducing conditions
  • Sleep position: more than 50% of sleep paralysis occurrences are in people sleeping on their backs
  • Use of certain medications, particularly sleep aids and over the counter medications with psychoactive properties, such as antihistamines
  • Substance abuse

How Sleep Apnea Is Connected To Anxiety

A growing body of evidence suggests that sleep apnea and anxiety are connected. Its likely that each condition exacerbates the other: Disturbed sleep due to sleep apnea can increase daytime stress and fatigue. Anxiety can also trigger and worsen sleep apnea by making it harder to fall asleep at night.

Some research suggests that sleep apnea and anxiety are often co-occurring conditions. One 2014 study revealed that people with OSA were more likely to have symptoms of anxiety. Severe OSA was linked to an even higher likelihood of anxiety symptoms. People with sleep apnea were also likelier to have both anxiety and depression than just one or the other.

A 2019 study echoed these results, revealing that the incidence of anxiety disorders and depression was higher in people with sleep apnea than in people without it. This was especially true among female patients.

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During An Episode You Can Think Your Way Out Of It

Although you might feel utterly helpless, it’s possible to use that working brain as an escape route, says Ethan Green, a Londoner who’s had numerous sleep paralysis episodes. The experiences led him to start No Sleepless Nights, a kind of online self-help community for better sleep habits.

Polling his readers, Green discovered that there are many tactics that people use in the midst of a sleep paralysis episode. Some begin counting to distract the mind, for example, while can others talk themselves into seeing it as a pleasant chance to have an out-of-body experience.

Green’s strategy: Tell yourself to wiggle one finger. Even the slightest conscious movement will knock your whole body back into awareness. But the technique might also work simply because it gives you a task, and that keeps you from going into full freak-out mode. “It doesn’t really matter what you think, say, or do,” he says. “It’s the act of staying calm and focusing your mind on something specific that probably helps. It occupies your brain and keeps you from creating hallucinations.”

Correcting your sleep problems through stress reduction and better sleep hygiene can go a long way toward prevention. But if paralysis does occur, it’s important to remind yourself that the condition is temporary. And, unless you happen to be a demon slayer, otherworldly creatures shuttled through a spectral portal aren’t the likely cause. Once you know that, you ain’t afraid of no ghost.

What Causes Sleep Paralysis

Sleep Paralysis Guide

The exact cause of sleep paralysis is unknown. Studies have examined data to see what is associated with a higher risk of sleep paralysis and have found mixed results. Based on that research, researchers believe that multiple factors are involved in provoking sleep paralysis.

Sleep disorders and other sleeping problems have shown some of the strongest correlations with isolated sleep paralysis. Higher rates of sleep paralysis â38% in one studyâ are reported by people with obstructive sleep apnea , a sleep disorder of repeated lapses in breathing. Sleep paralysis also has been found to be more common in people with nighttime leg cramps.

Insomnia symptoms like having a hard time falling asleep and excessive daytime sleepiness have been found to be associated with sleep paralysis. People whose circadian rhythms are not aligned with their local day-night cycle, such as people with jet lag and shift workers, may also be at higher risk of sleep paralysis.

Certain mental health conditions have shown a connection with sleep paralysis. People with anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, appear to be more likely to experience the condition. Some of the strongest associations are in people with post-traumatic stress disorder and others who have had exposure to childhood sexual abuse or other types of physical and emotional distress. Stopping alcohol or antidepressants can also lead to REM rebound, which may cause sleep paralysis too.

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Thoughts On Sleep Paralysis: Causes Symptoms And Treatments

  • SamReply

    Ive had sleep paralysis ever since I was little, maybe around the ages of 3 and 7, and man was it realistic. First one was me being throw up from my bed by the Grinch, yes the Grinch, the real life action movie with Jim Carry. Im 17 now and get them often, I have to have a TV on with the volume on which somewhat helps it go away. Though if Im really tired and go to bed there is a 90% chance Ill wake up 5 minutes later and experience it all over again. Sometimes before I go to bed I can literally feel if itll happen or not which is weird. If I know Ill end up having it Ill walk around a bit and go to bed, its the only way itll stop it.

  • AskhatReply

    My case is a little different, guys. Besides classic sleep paralysis that can happen to me sometimes, recently I ve got absolutely different experience. When I was falling asleep, somehow I managed to preserve my consciousness and I witnessed firsthand all the changes that happen to a body during REM sleep. I even realized that I moved my eyeballs simultaneously seeing pictures and some scenees. I was scared that my heartbeats differed in such a way that a) I was able to hear every beat of my heart despite the fact that I was on my back b) and the beats were quite irregular depending on what kind of picture/scene I saw, like terrifying ones caused my heart beat more frequently. I felt all this sort of things simultaneously seeing the dreams as usual, and it was quite strange and scary.

  • Paulo
  • What Does Sleep Paralysis Feel Like

    The fundamental symptom of sleep paralysis is atonia or the inability to move the body. It occurs shortly after falling asleep or waking up, and during an episode, a person feels awake and is aware of this loss of muscle control.

    An estimated 75% of sleep paralysis episodes involve hallucinations that are distinct from typical dreams. As with atonia, these can occur when falling asleep or waking up .

    Hallucinations during sleep paralysis fall into three categories:

    • Intruder hallucinations, which involve the perception of a dangerous person or presence in the room.
    • Chest pressure hallucinations, also called incubus hallucinations, that can incite a feeling of suffocation. These frequently occur along with intruder hallucinations.
    • Vestibular-motor hallucinations, which can include feelings of movement or out-of-body sensations.

    Atonia is often distressing, and troubling hallucinations can make sleep paralysis episodes even more bothersome. For this reason, around 90% of episodes are associated with fear while only the minority have more pleasant or even blissful hallucinations. The perception of these episodes has been found to vary significantly based on a personâs cultural context.

    Episodes can last from a few seconds to around 20 minutes, and the average length is between six and seven minutes. In most cases, episodes end on their own but occasionally are interrupted by another personâs touch or voice or by an intense effort to move that overcomes atonia.

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    The Most Common Cause Is Sleep Disturbance And Those With Stress Or Anxiety Are More Likely To Experience Episodes

    Your body goes through several stages of sleep on its way to having those dreams about chocolate rivers and sparkly unicorns .

    At one point, your body prepares for a REM cyclethe stage in which most dreams occurby turning off your muscles as a way to protect you from harm. If you somehow wake up before REM is finished, you might be mentally aware, but your muscles haven’t been turned back on.

    Stuck in that limbo between waking and sleeping, sufferers of sleep paralysis are completely frozen and unable to utter a word. Often, they also have auditory or physical hallucinations, like the feeling that something is pressing against them, or walking nearby.

    People with other sleep issues tend to get hit the hardest by multiple paralysis episodes, Cheyne says. That might include a changed sleep schedule, high degrees of stress, insomnia, anxiety, or sleep apnea.

    Do You Suffer From Sleep Apnea

    What is sleep paralysis?

    Untreated sleep apnea can lead to other health conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and depression. Our sleep apnea quiz evaluates risk factors like snoring, breathing pauses during sleep, fatigue and obesity and gives you an idea of what to do next based on your results.

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    Theories Of Sleep Paralysis

    Many scientists believe that sleep paralysis occurs because of cross-over between different sleep stages. Specifically, there is a transition that occurs between REM sleep and wake.

    It has been theorized that we evolved to be paralyzed during dream sleep in order to protect ourselves and the ones near us from bodily harm. This makes sense as we would not want to thrash and kick while sleeping.

    Diagnosis And Treatment Of Parasomnias

    If you think you or someone in your family might be a parasomniac, it should be taken seriously, especially if you feel the sleep behaviors could be dangerous to you or to others.

    Parasomnia treatment can be attained through a sleep medicine physician, who will help you determine what is causing the parasomnia. He or she will look at the possibility of other sleep disorders, medical conditions, medications, possible substance abuse and possible psychological elements. An examination at a sleep lab can also help a doctor pinpoint the cause.

    Sleep studies chart your brain activity, heartbeat and breathing when you sleep. Video allows for behavior monitoring. Doctors can see how you move during sleep and whether you get up and do anything unusual.

    In terms of actual parsomnia treatment, a physician may recommend behavioral therapy, medication or a combination of the two. Lifestyle changes are also suggested in many cases. For example, if someone sleep walks they can add locks or alarms to windows and doors. They can try sleeping on the ground and clear the room of items that could cause them to trip and fall.

    People who suffer from sleep apnea parasomnia could be treated with what is known as a CPAP, a system to help open airways for better breathing.

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    Parasomnia Sleep Disorders And Link With Obstructive Sleep Apnea

    Written byDr. Victor MarchionePublished onNovember 24, 2015

    With 40 million Americans suffering from sleep disorders, research into sleep behavior is constant, and in recent years experts have been able to link parasomnia sleep disorders with sleep apnea.

    Parasomnia sleep disorder is a group of abnormal behaviors that can take place when a person in sleeping. Some sleep disorder parasomnias include sleep-related eating disorder, nightmares, sleep walking, sleep paralysis and sleep aggression.

    Sleep includes two different states rapid eye movement sleep or REM, and non-rapid eye movement or NREM. These two states alternate throughout the sleep cycle. Parasomnia can take place in any state of sleep, as well as during a sleep-wake transition. They can also be classified into two syndromes. For instance, sleep disorders of arousal tend to happen during NREM. REM parasomnias are more likely to take place during the later half of the sleep period when REM sleep is most abundant.

    When a person wakes from an REM parasomnia, he or she is usually alert and has good memory of his or her dream and mental activity. People with NREM parasomnias who wake up during the course of sleep are normally confused and find it difficult to recall dreaming they have no recollection of their behavior or mental activity in the morning. This is what we often refer to as being half awake and half asleep.

    What Is The Treatment For Sleep Paralysis

    An Overview of Sleep Paralysis

    A first step in treating sleep paralysis is to talk with a doctor in order to identify and address underlying problems that may be contributing to the frequency or severity of episodes. For example, this could involve treatment for narcolepsy or steps to better manage sleep apnea.

    Overall, there is limited scientific evidence about the optimal treatment for sleep paralysis. Many people donât know that the condition is relatively common and thus see themselves as crazy or shameful after episodes. As a result, even just the acknowledgement and normalization of their symptoms by a doctor can be beneficial.

    Because of the connection between sleep paralysis and general sleeping problems, improving sleep hygiene is a common focus in preventing sleep paralysis. Sleep hygiene refers to a personâs bedroom setting and daily habits that influence sleep quality.

    Examples of healthy sleep tips that can contribute to better sleep hygiene and more consistent nightly rest include:

    • Following the same schedule for going to bed and waking up every day, including on weekends.
    • Keeping a set pre-bed routine that helps you get comfortable and relaxed.
    • Outfitting your bed with the best mattress and pillow for your needs.
    • Setting up your bedroom to have limited intrusion from light or noise.
    • Reducing consumption of alcohol and caffeine, especially in the evening.
    • Putting away electronic devices, including cell phones, for at least a half-hour before bed.
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    Diagnostic And Symptomatic Factors

    Although psychiatric comorbidity, in general, has been associated with SP, there may be more specific diagnostic patterns. The most well established of these is the finding that trauma histories and posttraumatic stress disorder are common in those with SP. Furthermore, anxiety sensitivity, often conceptualized as a fear of the consequences of cognitive and somatic manifestations of anxiety, is elevated in people with SP, and, as in panic disorder, has been hypothesized to be an etiological factor. More specifically, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, death anxiety, and social anxiety are frequent symptomatic accompaniments to SP. It is important to note that the causality of these relationships has yet to be determined. Thus, it is currently unclear whether PTSD actually causes SP or if the relationship is instead mediated by the sleep disruptions and hypervigilance so commonly found in PTSD symptomatology.

    What Causes Sleep Paralysis And Is It Preventable

    In most cases, sleep paralysis occurs while falling asleep at night. However, sleep paralysis can also occur during the waking stage and during daytime naps. Several factors can cause sleep paralysis like stress or sleep deprivation. A disrupted sleep schedule or someone suffering from shift work sleep disorder can also be at risk of experiencing sleep paralysis.

    Other common triggers for sleep paralysis include:

    • Mental disorders such as depression and anxiety.
    • A family history of sleep paralysis .
    • Use of certain drugs or consumption of alcohol.
    • Sleeping disorders such as OSA and narcolepsy.
    • Physical fatigue and excessive mental stress.
    • Certain medications.

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    How Is Sleep Paralysis Diagnosed

    Healthcare providers confirm or rule out sleep paralysis after an evaluation. They may ask you about:

    • Symptoms, such as how often you experience sleep paralysis, what it feels like and when it started.
    • Sleep, such as how many hours you sleep at night and whether you feel tired during the day.
    • Medical history, including medications you are taking and whether you smoke, use alcohol or illegal drugs.
    • Mental health disorders, which may include anxiety, post-traumatic stress or depression.
    • Family history of sleep paralysis.

    Narcolepsy And Sleep Apnea

    Narcolepsy Symptoms Can Include Sleep Paralysis, Hypnagogic Hallucinations

    Simply put, narcolepsy is a neurological disorder during which a person loses control of sleep and wakefulness. To compare narcolepsy and sleep apnea, the crucial thing is that both are associated with excessive daytime sleepiness. To know if you have sleep apnea or narcolepsy, here are their different symptoms:


    sleep paralysis, sudden loss of muscle control

    hallucinations or frightening dreams

    dreams or visions are quite vivid and real

    stoppage of breathing multiple times while sleep

    sleepiness during the day

    loud and frequent snoring

    gasping, choking breathing

    Answering the question Can you have sleep apnea and narcolepsy? simultaneously yes, you can. But the frequency of this association and its clinical significance is unknown. A recent study assessed Can sleep apnea cause narcolepsy? and links between these two disorders. It studied 133 patients with narcolepsy and figured that OSA frequently occurs in narcolepsy but may delay the diagnosis of narcolepsy by several years and interfere with its proper treatment.

    Checking out do I have narcolepsy or sleep apnea demands a professional diagnosis. Taking the table above as navigation is not enough because about one in 2,000 people have some form of narcolepsy and may not even suspect that. If you have suspicions, see a doctor.

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