Sleep paralysis is a sleep disorder that causes a person who is conscious to feel as if they are unable to move. It occurs when a person is either just falling asleep or just waking up. This type of sleep disorder is not considered dangerous, although it can be frightening to experience, especially if you are not aware of what is causing the feelings of paralysis.
You may have experienced sleep paralysis at some time in your life, but not realized what it was. Current figures estimate that 50% of people experience some degree of sleep paralysis at some point in their lives. Although sleep paralysis may cause you to feel scared or frightened, sleep paralysis is not a dangerous sleep disorder. By knowing what is going on, you improve your chances of not becoming frightened and potentially hurting yourself or others. Having information about sleep paralysis can help you to better cope with your sleep disorder.
Common symptoms of sleep paralysis are feeling frightened, sense of levitation, sense of smell, sense of noise, feeling paralyzed for a few seconds to a couple of minutes, and believing you see an intruder or someone in your room.
What Causes Sleep Paralysis
Sleep paralysis happens when someone is going into or out of REM sleep. REM is one phase of the sleep cycle, and it is the phase during which people experience their deepest sleep. During REM sleep the body is disconnected from the brain. This causes some people to feel paralyzed when they suddenly wake from this sleep phase.
Since sleep paralysis is related to REM sleep, it occurs when a person is either going to sleep or just waking up. Jet lag is known to increase the chances of sleep paralysis. In fact, people who travel often tend to have the largest chance of sleep paralysis since their REM schedule is off. Sleep paralysis has also been linked to other sleep disorders including sleep apnea and narcolepsy.
There isn’t much that can be done to help prevent sleep paralysis, but it has never been seen as a dangerous sleep disorder.
Treating Sleep Paralysis
The management of sleep paralysis varies depending on the severity of the sleep disorder and the episodes of sleep paralysis. Severe cases of sleep paralysis sleep disorder can be treated with medications. One such medication used to manage sleep paralysis is Xyrem. To learn if your sleep paralysis may require medication to control it you should consult your doctor or a sleep specialist.
Minor cases involving sleep paralysis can be managed through behavioral and psychological modifications, such as lowering stress and establishing a regular sleep schedule. Learning proper breathing techniques and methods of relaxation can be effective in managing episodes of sleep paralysis.
There is really no cure for sleep paralysis, but there are ways to manage this sleep disorder and luckily it is not considered a dangerous sleep disorder.