Abstain From Nervous System Stimulants
The effects of alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine can last for several hours in the human body, and interfere with the sleep/wake cycle.
Coffee can instantly induce alertness, and alcohol-infused drinks although they may have a sedative effect for a few hours following consumption eventually also tend to stimulate the central nervous system, induce stress, hinder sleep, and instigate the likelihood of sleep paralysis .
Therefore, indulging in caffeinated beverages and alcoholic drinks regularly before bedtime may not only cause difficulty initiating sleep, and frequent nocturnal awakenings, but may also be a reason for sleep paralysis .
I would advise you to cut down on your caffeine intake, especially during the evening hours, because of its interference with the circadian rhythm, and its prevention of deep sleep.
I would suggest you replace your evening coffee, cola, energy drink, or tea with a warm herbal infusion such as chamomile tea.
Scientific studies have found that individuals who smoke typically take longer to fall asleep and wake up more frequently during the night learn more about how nicotine affects sleep here.
Therefore, it is also suggested that you stay away from nicotine-containing products, as they may interrupt the sleeping pattern, and lower the quality of sleep.
It is also important to note that all these stimulants can interact with your ongoing prescription medications, and may lead to adverse outcomes.
How To Stop Sleep Paralysis From Happening
Its important to remember that, for most people, sleep paralysis is generally not considered a serious medical problem. Sleep paralysis episodes are usually isolated and classified as a benign condition that doesnt happen frequently enough to interfere with quality of life. However, if you experience recurrent and bothersome symptoms of sleep paralysis it may be a good idea to talk with your doctor in order to rule out other sleep disorders like narcolepsy.
Overall, there is limited evidenced-based treatment options for sleep paralysis. Psychological and behavior interventions such as cognitive behavior therapy for sleep paralysis have been proposed, but further testing is needed to assess their efficacy for preventing episodes and reducing their severity. In general, doing your best to maintain optimal sleep hygiene may help limit the likelihood of experiencing sleep paralysis. Since episodes of sleep paralysis may be triggered by overnight awakenings during REM, techniques to improve sleep consistency and continuity may help.
Sleep hygiene tips and tricks include:
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Sleep Apnea And Sleep Paralysis: How Are The Two Related
Sleep loss and sleep disorders go hand-in-hand. While studies most associate narcolepsy with sleep paralysis, sleep apnea and sleep paralysis connect too.
Sleep apnea is a condition where breathing stops and starts throughout the night. It can often closely be related to snoring and cause difficulty sleeping.
Sleep paralysis prevents people from moving and speaking at night from an experience called atonia or loss of muscle control.
Is there a link between sleep apnea and sleep paralysis? Heres what to know.
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Sleep Paralysis Treatment And Prevention
Its normal to experience occasional episodes of sleep paralysis, and no treatment is necessary. If you have another sleep disorder, treating that problem will usually help prevent paralysis as well. The most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of having an episode is to get plenty of sleep at least eight hours per night. You should also try keeping a lid on stress and switching to a new position if you typically sleep on your back. If you are troubled by frequent episodes of sleep paralysis, your doctor may recommend that you see a sleep specialist for further evaluation.
Having trouble sleeping? What keeps you up at night? Learn more about sleep disorders and speak with an expert to get to the root of your sleeping problem. Visit the UPMC Sleep Medicine Center online and make an appointment today.
Consider Routine Workouts To Reduce Stress
Routine mild to moderate exercise can help you to stay lean and may also help prevent sleep disturbances including sleep paralysis .
However, vigorous workouts close to your regular bedtime can have a stimulating effect on your body.
Hence, it is crucial to understand how the timing, intensity, and duration of your exercise can influence your sleeping schedule.
In my opinion, you must not over-train, or engage in high-intensity training sessions immediately before your bedtime.
Instead, I would recommend that you schedule your exercise for at least three hours before your bedtime.
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Are There Different Types Of Sleep Deprivation
Sleep deprivation and sleep insufficiency may be categorized in different ways depending on a persons circumstances.
- Acute sleep deprivation refers to a short period, usually a few days or less, when a person has a significant reduction in their sleep time.
- Chronic sleep deprivation, also known as insufficient sleep syndrome, is defined by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine as curtailed sleep that persists for three months or longer.
- Chronic sleep deficiency or insufficient sleep can describe ongoing sleep deprivation as well as poor sleep that occurs because of sleep fragmentation or other disruptions.
Sleep Deprivation Effects On The Brain
Sleep deprivation means getting an insufficient amount of sleep. The average adult requires between seven to nine hours per night for optimal functioning.1 Sleep is beneficial to both the functioning of our brains and bodies. Conversely, sleep deprivation or non-restorative sleep can have a myriad of negative effects, particularly on our cognitive functioning. Lack of sleep effects can include memory and judgment impairment, mood swings, and sleep deprivation headaches. Other common signs of sleep deprivation may be clumsiness, and weight gain or weight loss. Chronic partial or total sleep deprivation can seriously impact your physical and mental health.
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Can Someone Wake You Up During Sleep Paralysis
Someone may be able to somewhat wake you, but it may not be enough to completely snap you out of the sleep paralysis episode. Many still experience temporary paralysis upon waking. While waking somebody from a night terror might seem like the right and helpful thing to do, doing so usually doesnt help. In fact, it may make the sleep paralysis worse, causing further disorientation, confusion, and fear.
How To Wake Up From Sleep Paralysis
Most people find sleep paralysis to be scary and undesirable.
So how can you wake yourself up during an episode of sleep paralysis?
There is no consistently reliable technique for waking up from an episode of sleep paralysis however, research suggests that consciously trying to wiggle your fingers and toes may be enough to wake you up from sleep paralysis distractions like reverse counting may also help.
You should also keep as calm as possible, resist the urge to panic, pay attention to your breathing pattern, try to remember that whats happening is just a dream and that the fear will pass.
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What Is The Treatment For 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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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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When Does Sleep Paralysis Occur
These events often occur when a person is either falling asleep or awakening from sleep. If it occurs when going to sleep, the person will remain alert while the body prepares for REM sleep. This condition is known as predormital or hypnagogic sleep paralysis. If it occurs when the person is waking up, the person becomes alert prior to the REM cycle being completed. This condition is known as post-dormital or hypnopompic paralysis. The events can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes, with rare cases lasting for hours, where the person could well experience panic symptoms.3
Sleep Paralysis Is Not Complete Paralysis
Due to the correlation of the paralysis with REM sleep, this type of atonia is not complete. The use of EOG traces clearly show that eye movement is still possible during these episodes however, the person who is experiencing the events is not able to speak.
Types of Visions Associated with Sleep Hallucinations
The three main types of visions that have been linked to pathologic neurophysiology are:
- Vestibular motor sensations,
- The incubus, and
- Believing theres an intruder in the room.
Reduce Screen Exposure 2
It is well known that the blue light emitted from electronic devices like televisions, computers, mobile phones, or any other digital screen, can interrupt our circadian rhythm, disturb the synthesis of sleep hormones, and induce stress.
In addition to the stress and hormonal changes, the content you are consuming may make you think about the various topics, and increase mental alertness .
This sequence of non-physiological changes can cause sleep paralysis .
Hence, I would suggest you do not indulge in any digital activities for at least two to three hours before your bedtime so that you can improve the quality of sleep, and reduce the probability of experiencing sleep paralysis.
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Im Awake But I Cant Move My Body
Some of us can relate to that feeling. We might either be falling asleep or waking up from sleep and we find ourselves unable to move. Were consciously aware that we are awake, but there is a suffocating feeling that something or someone is preventing us from moving.
It feels like youre trapped in your body, says Susie Fong, MD, a UCLA Health sleep medicine physician who practices in Encino, Beverly Hills and Santa Clarita.
The person has lost muscle control. Their eyes are able to move and they can breathe those are the only muscles functioning at that time.
Involuntary muscles, such as the diaphragm will continue to move because thats how the person in sleep paralysis is able to breathe. The voluntary muscles such as the arms and legs are unable to move.
Thats because, when we are in REM sleep, our brain paralyzes our muscles, except for the eye and respiratory muscles, Dr. Fong says. This is called REM atonia.
REM, which stands for rapid eye movement, is a phase of sleep where the eyes flutter rapidly in a series of directions. People often dream in this sleep stage.
REM atonia is necessary because without it, many of us would find ourselves waking up outside our bed, according to Dr. Fong. Sleep paralysis occurs when a person is in both REM and wake states while the body is still in a state of REM atonia.
Some People Hallucinate During Sleep Paralysis
You may have experienced one of the following types of hallucination during a period of sleep paralysis 5:
- The belief that there is an intruder in the room.
- The presence of an incubus or demon.
- A sensation of floating and out-of-body experiences.
These sensations can be accompanied by meaningful sounds like voices, whispers and roars or humming, hissing and static. You might also imagine physical sensations such as being dragged out of bed or feeling âelectricâ tingles or vibrations running through your body.
Itâs completely understandable that these unsettling symptoms are usually accompanied by intense emotions such as fear and panic.6 However, emotions associated with sleep paralysis and hallucinations are not always negative and you may experience a feeling of serene calm.
Cultural Significance And Priming
Although the core features of sleep paralysis appear to be universal, the ways in which they are experienced vary according to time, place, and culture. Over 100 terms have been identified for these experiences. Some scientists have proposed sleep paralysis as an explanation for reports of paranormal and spiritual phenomena such as ghosts, alien visits,demons or demonic possession,alien abduction experiences, the night hag and shadow people haunting.
According to some scientists, culture may be a major factor in shaping sleep paralysis. When sleep paralysis is interpreted through a particular cultural filter, it may take on greater salience. For example, if sleep paralysis is feared in a certain culture, this fear could lead to conditioned fear, and thus worsen the experience, in turn leading to higher rates. Consistent with this idea, high rates and long durations of immobility during sleep paralysis have been found in Egypt, where there are elaborate beliefs about sleep paralysis, involving malevolent spirit-like creatures, the jinn.
How Is Sleep Deprivation Diagnosed
Doctors can often diagnose sleep deprivation by discussing a patients symptoms and sleep patterns. This may involve reviewing a sleep diary or taking a sleep questionnaire that offers a detailed look at sleep patterns and daytime symptoms.
In some cases, additional testing with sleep tracking technology, known as actigraphy, or with an overnight sleep study may be conducted if further information is needed or if a doctor suspects that the patient may have an underlying sleep disorder.
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Stress And Sleep Paralysis
A recent study connected sleep paralysis and stress in patients with PTSD. Similarly, those who have been diagnosed with social anxiety, generalized stress, and depression were also shown to have higher occurrences of sleep paralysis. But this still begs the question, what comes first? The sleep issues or the stress? Which causes which?
It is a good idea to visit your doctor if you are experiencing sleep paralysis very often. Stress puts a huge toll on the body, often causing disruptions in your natural sleep patterns. The best way to prevent further sleep paralysis is to speak with your sleep doctor about improving your sleep hygiene.
Does Sleep Paralysis Lead To Poor Sleep
Some studies have shown that sleep paralysis can lead to difficulties in falling back to sleep after the event. 4 This might be because of the intense feelings of fear, or sense of threat, that you experience. It may be due to a more general psychological stress.
It may even be due to supernatural beliefs about what has occurred. In this case you might feel unable, or even unwilling, to fall back to sleep quickly following an episode. Itâs perfectly understandable. The fear of another period of sleep paralysis is often enough to prolong a restless night.
It could even be that anxiety around impending sleep paralysis could lead to difficulty falling asleep at the start of the night. If youâre worrying about the possibility of sleep paralysis when you get into bed then itâs bound to prey on your mind and affect your sleep.
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What Causes Sleep Paralysis
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.