What is Sleep paralysis?
Sleep Paralysis is a disorder related to sleep. Sleep paralysis is a feeling of being conscious but unable to move. It occurs when a person passes between stages of wakefulness and sleep. During these transitions, you may be unable to move or speak for a few seconds up to a few minutes. Some people may also feel pressure or a sense of choking.
During an episode, one may hallucinate (hear, feel, or see things that are not there), which often results in fear.
wikipedia confirms that, between 8% and 50% of people experience sleep paralysis at some time. About 5% of people have regular episodes. Males and females are affected equally.
The victims may also find it difficult to speak at such times or move. There are times people hallucinate about the presence of a supernatural being in the room to do them harm because they wouldn’t be able to open their eyes at such times.
To some it may feel like a near-death experience. They may imagine that they are hovering over the bed. Most experience a shortness of breath due to the fear they are feeling.
You feel trapped, you feel weak, it looks like someone is holding you down, you cannot speak, you cannot move, you get frightened and feels as if there is a supernatural being in the room:
Calm down, it’s NOT always a spiritual attack, it’s NOT village people (spiritual beliefs of the black race), it is called Sleep Paralysis. Medically or scientifically, it’s NORMAL and it’s HARMLESS.
Most people get this experience once or twice in their lives. Others may get it a bit more. It can be super scary, you feel powerless, and it feels like someone is in your room holding you down or something is making you unable to move, speak or struggle. This is Sleep Paralysis.
It can happen for some minutes.
And those minutes can feel like hell,
Or even feel like you are about to die,
But please do NOT panic,
Because panicking will technically worsen things for you-
Try to remind yourself:
it is harmless,
you are not dying,
And it will go on its own.
When does Sleep Paralysis occur?
It occurs when a person passes between stages of wakefulness and sleep, that is, just as you are about to wake up or as you are about to sleep deeply.
Think of it as temporary muscle paralysis because you are actually sleeping but your brain is still active. This is a simple way to look at the experience.
What causes Sleep Paralysis?
There is NO exact known cause but as doctors, there are certain conditions it is linked with:
1. It tends to run in families.
If family members have it, you may, too.
If you don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis, it may cause it.
3. Recently Disrupted Sleep Patterns
If you had your sleep disrupted like staying up to prepare for exams, flying many hours flight, sudden change in work shifts and more. All this can trigger it.
4. Anxiety and Panic
If you panic and have anxiety problems, this can worsen it.
This is a brain condition where people just fall asleep without warning and at inappropriate times. They may be eating and just fall asleep in the middle of it. Thankfully, it’s a rare condition, but it can cause you to have multiple experiences of Sleep Paralysis.
6. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
People who have had a significant terrible event happened to them in the past like war, rape, armed robbery, killing of a loved one in front of them, etc
Such people may have sleep problems and feelings of being killed while in their sleep.
How to heal sleep paralysis
1. Get 6 hours sleep everyday.
Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up same time in the morning. Have a strict routine for sleeping and try your best not to disrupt it as much as you can.
2. Stay off alcohol and caffeine after 7pm.
3. Sleep on your side. Not on your back. Try new sleeping positions
Sleeping on your back makes feeling overpowered and helpless feel very worse.
Ensure that you are comfortable while sleeping. Get a good mattress, ensure the bedroom temperature is cozy, and have covers easily accessible for when the body temperature drops at night.
4. Stay off food after 7pm.
It may make you restless at night in bed as your body struggles to digest food you ate very late. And that can trigger sleep paralysis.
5. NO tv in your room.
NO table/chairs for reading or work too.
And NO laptops, school books or work documents and files in your room.
These things keep you awake, make your brain distracted from sleep to work/school duties and make it more difficult you to have good healthy sleep.
Only get into bed when you are ready to sleep. Do NOT get into bed and start pressing phone, making serious phone calls, pressing laptop or doing anything that can distract you from sleep.
6. Have a shower.
7. NO serious exercise 4 hours before bed.
8. Sex is helpful if you can get some.
9. NO smoking before bed
Weed, cigarettes, Shisha etc. They contain stimulants that can keep you awake.
Remember, while this is a very scary experience, it is HARMLESS.
If you however get it very often or it is affecting your mental health, please see a doctor.
Frequently Asked Questions
How common is sleep paralysis
Estimates vary widely, but as many as 65% of people may suffer an episode at some point in their lives. Sometimes the phenomenon occurs only once or twice in a person’s life, while other people may have more frequent and regular encounters with sleep paralysis.
Can you die from sleep paralysis?
Can You Die from Sleep Paralysis? Although sleep paralysis can result in high levels of anxiety, it isn’t generally considered life-threatening. It is medically termed harmless. While more research is needed on the long-term effects, episodes usually only last between a few seconds and a few minutes.
What happens if you don’t wake up from sleep paralysis?
You‘re most likely to experience dreaming during REM ( rapid eye movement ) sleep, he said, and the body actually becomes paralyzed “presumably so you don’t try to act out your dreams.” During an episode of sleep paralysis, a person becomes paralyzed for seconds or minutes just as they‘re falling asleep or waking up.
How long can sleep paralysis last?
A session usually lasts around one to two minutes and can be very frightening for those who’ve experienced it.