It is hard to make someone understand what sleep paralysis is, as it is more of being conscious, but unable to move. In short, sleep paralysis is a state of parasomnia, which is an unexpected event that may happen when you pass between the phase of sleep and waking up. For some time during this period of transition, you may find it very difficult to talk or move your body parts. It can be a few seconds or a few minutes. Reportedly, some people can sense choking during sleep paralysis. This phase may invite different types of sleep disorders. Narcolepsy is one of the most overpowering sleep disorders that can affect the ability of your brain to regulate sleep.

What is the cause of sleep paralysis?

Before you get into the depths, it is important to understand the basic cause of sleep paralysis. It has been found that almost every fourth person out of 10 faces sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis often takes place during the teen years. But both male and female can face it at any age. Thus, it is neither age nor gender specific. There is a possibility that it is a hereditary issue that has been running in the family for a long time. The causes of sleep paralysis can be many, including, insufficient sleep, unhealthy sleep schedule, bipolar disorder, psychological pressure, certain medications, sleep disorders, and more.
Sleep paralysis generally takes place at two different times. It may occur when you are falling asleep, or at the time of waking up. The first situation is known as predormital or hypnagogic sleep paralysis. In the second scenario, it is called postdormital or hypnopompic sleep paralysis.

How to understand a Predormital Sleep Paralysis

If you have ever known what sleep paralysis feels like, you will understand how dreadful it can be. When you are falling asleep, your body starts relaxing. You reach a state of less awareness. Therefore, it becomes hard to identify the changes happening. If you become aware before you fall asleep, you will understand the inability to speak or move.

How can you distinguish Postdormital Sleep Paralysis?

While you are sleeping, your body keeps switching between rapid eye movement (i.e., REM) and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. An entire cycle of REM and NREM sleep keeps going on for 90 minutes. Between these two, NREM sleep takes place first. On average, 75% of your sleep time is occupied in the same way. During this phase of NREM sleep, the human body keeps restoring itself. As soon as the NREM cycle ends, REM occurs and your sleep is shifted to the new phase. Eyes begin to move faster, and dreams emerge. Your body starts relaxing every muscle. Gradually, the muscles enter into a ‘turned off’ mode. When you are aware that the REM cycle is happening, or just about to finish, you will experience a still condition. You will be unable to speak a word or move your body and this is what a postdormital sleep paralysis feels like.

Sleep Paralysis Diagnosis

It is not only difficult to understand sleep paralysis, but also the diagnosis process. When you find it impossible to speak or move just before you fall asleep or right before waking up, most likely you are experiencing recurrent isolated sleep paralysis. This is a common condition and does not need any medical treatment. Though it sounds scary, this type of sleep paralysis will not affect your health.
Initially, as mentioned above, you do not need to go for medical help for sleep paralysis. However, it is important to understand when to undergo a sleep paralysis diagnosis.

•    It is advisable to see a doctor if you are anxious about the symptoms you have.
•    If you are feeling worn out or exhausted throughout the day due to the symptoms, it is high time to visit a doctor.
•    When you are wide awake even at night because the symptoms are worrisome, you need to check with an expert.

Sleep Paralysis Diagnosis

If you are going to an expert for the diagnosis, he/she will require detailed information regarding your sleep habit through the following process. The process will include:
•    Doctor will ask you to describe the symptoms you are having.
•    Doctor may ask you to maintain a sleep diary for few weeks
•    Doctor will ask about your health condition, medical history and also if you have sleep disorders in your family
•    Doctor may refer you to a Sleep expert to get a better evaluation of your sleep cycle
•    A few tests and studies may take place to assure that you are not suffering from any other sleep disorder

Sleep Paralysis Treatment

As it has been said previously, most sleep paralysis does not require medical attention. All you need is to get the underlying health conditions or sleep disorders like narcolepsy treated. This treatment will help you lower your anxiety level. Once you are free from anxiety attacks, you will be able to sleep peacefully. The entire sleep paralysis treatment may follow a procedure that includes,

•    Getting into healthy sleep habit i.e. sleeping for at least six hours every night
•    Take medicine to alleviate the level of anxiety and regulate your sleeping problems.
•    If you are suffering from any mental or sleep disorder, treating the same can help aid sleep paralysis

How can you deal with Sleep Paralysis at your own level?

When you understand what sleep paralysis is, you know that it is not a demon to be afraid of. For the occasional ones, you can take measures at home and try to control the disorder. Try to get into a proper sleep cycle first. Leave the worries you have in life behind when you are going to sleep. Turn off the lights and avoid using your mobile. You may try to sleep with the soothing music of your choice along with better sleeping positions. Breathe properly, perform light exercises, and have a good night’s sleep.

Note: The article is meant for general awareness of the readers. If you or your loved ones are struggling to get a good sleep or any associated discomfort, consider an expert consultation.

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What Is Sleep Paralysis?