21-October-2019 - Posted By Magniflex Middle East
Have you ever woken up to find yourself unable to move? You may feel heaviness on your chest- that terrifying feeling is called sleep paralysis, which affects 3 million people each year.
Unpleasant events that are associated with sleep are called parasomnia. Sleep paralysis is a type of parasomnia that happens during the time between just falling asleep or waking up. When we sleep, the brain sends signals to our voluntary muscles to relax. This stops our bodies from acting out our dreams and prevent us from injuring ourselves during sleep. This phenomenon is called atonia.
As we progress with sleep, our bodies go into non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM) alternatively. This is called the REM-NREM cycle which usually lasts for 90-120 minutes after which an individual's sleep is spent mostly on NREM with REM being the final stage (deep sleep) where dreams occur.
Below are a few facts about sleep paralysis for your reference:
There is no clear cause
Although sleep paralysis has existed for a long time, there is still no definitive cause for it. Because of this, there is no set treatment. Improving a person’s sleep hygiene can lessen the chances of experiencing sleep paralysis. One way of doing this is by making sure that the sleeping environment is tidy and pleasant. This includes having the highest quality mattress and comfortable pillows for a relaxing sleep.
No one is exempt
Sleep paralysis can happen to anyone. Usually, it starts to occur during the adolescent years of an individual. It becomes more frequent for ages 20-30 and may continue on during the later years. People who have existing sleep-related disorders such as sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and extreme sleepiness or idiopathic sleep hypersomnia, are at a higher risk of experiencing sleep paralysis.
You may experience Vestibular Motor Sensations
Individuals who are experiencing sleep paralysis may experience vestibular motor sensations as well. This is the feeling of flying or floating above the bed. It is also associated with out-of-body experiences. In some cases, individuals may feel vestibular sensations of falling, rolling and sliding.
You may hallucinate
Vivid hallucinations can be experienced during sleep paralysis. These visions feel real and are often extreme such as seeing shadowy figures at the foot of the bed or strange things hovering around the room.
It may be a sign of Narcolepsy
Narcolepsy is a sleeping condition which is a neurological disorder that affects an individual’s control over sleep and wakefulness. Diagnosed individuals may experience extreme daytime drowsiness and uncontrollable episodes of falling asleep several times during the day.
Sleep paralysis is often a symptom of narcolepsy. This is why it is best to seek the advice of a physician if a person is experiencing recurring sleep paralysis. Fortunately, it’s treatable.
It is mostly harmless
Sleep Paralysis may be a disturbing experience, but it is harmless. According to the International Academy of Consciousness or ICA, medical professionals do not usually regard sleep paralysis as a cause of concern as it is harmless and naturally-occurring. However, if it is recurring, seeking professional help is advised.
It occurs during the 2 main stages of the sleep cycle
When sleep paralysis occurs just as a person falls asleep, it is called hypnagogic or predormital sleep paralysis. On the other hand, hypnopompic or postdormital sleep paralysis happens just as an individual wakes up. Postdormital sleep paralysis is the most common between the two.
Predormital sleep paralysis occurs when your consciousness becomes aware while falling asleep while postdormital sleep paralysis happens when our consciousness wakes up just before a REM cycle is finished, leaving the body in the state of atonia.
It is common for people sleeping on their back
You may want to consider your sleeping position if you have recurring sleep paralysis. Medical experts say that individuals who sleep on their backs have a higher chance of experiencing sleep paralysis. It is advised to switch between different positions during sleep.
It has been recorded since time immemorial
Sleep paralysis has been recorded since ancient times. It is often depicted in medieval paintings and is a subject of lore in different parts of the world. The experience during sleep paralysis is often linked with demons, witches and even alien abductions. However, scientific research has thoroughly examined sleep paralysis and classified it as a health condition.
Sleep deprivation and irregular sleep can be a trigger
People who are sleep deprived and have irregular sleep are more prone to experience sleep paralysis. Make sure you have enough comfortable sleep of at least 6-7 hours every day. Since the bed you sleep in can relieve sleep deprivation, an orthopedic mattress is a popular choice for people who want extra comfort.