What is Sleep Paralysis?

#Sleep paralysis
The cases of sleep paralysis have risen in the last few decades. This has made it a subject of great interest among scientists, researchers, and medical professionals. Is sleep paralysis a symptom of a serious health problem? I know you may wonder what having sleep paralysis means and entails, and this article is focusing primarily on that. To answer your question, sleep paralysis is a sign that your body is not coordinating well through various stages of sleep. What is sleep paralysis anyway? It is defined as a feeling of being conscious but unable to move. It happens mostly when a person is transitioning from deep sleep to wakefulness. When it occurs, it makes someone unable to move, respond or talk for a few minutes. Some people also report cases of pressure or choking following sleep paralysis episodes. Contrary to what many people think, sleep paralysis is not narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is a continuous urge to sleep and happens because of the brain’s inability to regulate sleep.

When Does the Sleep Paralysis Happen?
Sleep paralysis has one main character and that is atonia (inability to move the body). According to scientists, 75% of people who experience sleep paralysis also suffer from hallucinations. These hallucinations differ from typical dreams. These episodes can occur when someone is falling asleep (hypnagogic hallucinations). They can also happen during waking up and we call these hypnopompic hallucinations. In connection to this, psychiatrists divide these hallucinations into three distinct categories, namely:
1.    Intruder hallucinations. These hallucinations make someone see or feel as if there is a dangerous person in the room.
2.    Chest pressure hallucinations. These are also called incubus hallucinations. They make someone feel as if he/she is being suffocated. They happen together with intruder hallucinations.
3.    Vestibular-motor hallucinations. These make someone feel as if he/she is flying or moving., They can also make people experience as if they’re moving out of their bodies.

What Are the Symptoms of Sleep Paralysis?
One thing you should know is that sleep paralysis is not a medical emergency. Again, it is not a dangerous condition to live with, and often no medical treatment is needed. It has characterized by the following signs and symptoms:
●    An inability to move the body when falling asleep, or on waking up. This can last for a few seconds or go on for minutes. Difficulty in breathing and sweating.
●    Headaches, muscle pain, and paranoia.
●    Hallucinations and sensations that cause fear.
●    Being consciously awake.
●    The Feeling of as if you’re about to die.
●    Feeling as if something is pushing you down.

What Are the Causes of Sleep Paralysis?
The development of sleep paralysis is linked to many factors. Some of these factors may be linked to it directly while others may cause sleep paralysis indirectly. These causes are:
●    Narcolepsy. Sleep paralysis occurs in about one-fourth of people with narcolepsy. It sometimes occurs in healthy children and, less often, in healthy adults.
●    Irregular sleeping patterns
●    Sleeping on your back
●    Having a family history of sleep paralysis.
●    Anxiety disorders
●    Bipolar disorders
●    Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
●    Extensive use of certain medications like the ones used to treat ADHD
●    Substance abuse

How is Sleep Paralysis Treated?
Most times, there is no specific treatment for sleep paralysis. Why? Because many people can live normally regardless of having sleep paralysis. However, some modifications can be done to reduce the occurrences of sleep paralysis incidences. They include:
1.    Having a schedule for sleeping and waking up every day, i.e., sleeping and waking up at specific times.
2.    You can fit your bed with a comfortable mattress and pillow to help you sleep well.
3.    Reduction of alcohol and caffeine in the evening can help you sleep better. Why? Alcohol is a sedative and keeps you sleeping for long hours. Caffeine is a stimulant that may give you insomnia, even when your body is longing to sleep. When these two are combined, they can alter your sleeping pattern.
4.    Avoid blue light before sleep. Blue light can cause eye-straining and headaches which can make sleeping difficult.
5.    Keeping the room temperature low may as well help you sleep peacefully without distractions.
6.    Leaving phones and other devices outside the bedroom because can distract you from sleeping.
7.    Eating a heavy meal when going to bed makes people unable to sleep well. So, you can choose to eat a lighter meal and it is recommended to have it at least 2 hours before bed.
8.    You can also do therapy sessions to get help from professionals.
9.    If your sleep paralysis is like trauma, counseling can be helpful in the recovery process.
10.    Yoga and breathing exercises may help you calm your body systems down, reducing the chances of sleep paralysis.