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What Is Sleep Paralysis? Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Sep 23, 2020 | 0 comments


What Is Sleep Paralysis? Imagine that you are sleeping, and suddenly you feel a heavy load on your chest with a lot of stretch in your muscle. You can see all around, but you can not move, you can scream aloud, but no one can hear you. You want to move, but your body does not allow you to move. It is something called sleep paralysis.

Sleep paralysis is momentary alertness but loses a voluntary muscle movement that occurs when you are just about to fall asleep or wake up from sleep.

It can might happen to approximately 8% of the general population. It is the momentary alertness but the loss of voluntary muscle movement. You might have had this attack once in your life. It occurs when you fall asleep or wake up from sleep. It will last from seconds to a few minutes. Sleep paralysis has many cases, whether you may not move or speak, or you might feel pressure on your chest. 

Symptoms

Some of the familiar sensations and emotions associated with this condition are the inability to move, a sense of physical weight and pressure on the chest, difficulty breathing or choking, feeling hallucinations or a sense of presence, and an overwhelming sense of fear or dread.

Some people even describe hearing footsteps, getting closer, seeing intruders, demons, or spirits, and feeling as if they are about to die. In this condition you cannot pull yourselves out of it and must wait for it to pass besides the fact that there is not physical danger of it.

Sleep paralysis is different from nightmares and night threats as our brain is awake, but the body is in its sleep state and cannot move.

What is most interesting about this is that it dates back to the 10th century and is prevalent in all ethnicities. People from many cultures have used it to explain supernatural events such as witchcraft, ghosts, and alien abduction.

 Now let’s get into the detail of what sleep paralysis is. It has two types.

Hypnagogic And Hypnopompic

Hypnagogic, also known as predormital, is when sleep paralysis occurs at sleep or just before falling asleep. On the other hand, Hypnopompic, known as postdormital, refers to sleep paralysis that occurs just after waking up at the transition from sleep to awakening.

During sleep, your brain cycles through five different phases called rapid eye movement stage REM. This cycle consists of 25% of your sleep; this may occur several times throughout the night since your sleep cycle is repeated.

REM is essential because this is when dreaming occurs. When your body becomes energized, the signals are sent to your spinal cord and motor neurons to shut off the movement, creating a temporary inability to move your arms and legs’ muscles. 

It serves as a protective measure to prevent you from injuring yourself or others while you dream.  

Now, let’s move forward to sleep paralysis again. These are thoughts to occur due to an error in the flip flop switch controlling REM sleep. This procedure enables smooth transitions into and out of REM sleep. Usually, this REM switch works when you are asleep. 

However, when Its occurs, the neurons controlling the wake side of the wake-sleep cycle and the neurons controlling the REM switch offside of the REM switch are weakened. 

It prevents muscle movement while the body is somewhat a waste that should not be happening. It can cause sleep paralysis. Experiencing negative emotions is another common occurrence during our REM sleep. The area of the brain known as Amygdala, which is vital in seed processing, is active through REM sleep. 

Since it is active during our REM and is closely associated with fear, it is thought to facilitate the generation of anxiety and fear during sleep paralysis. So how do you avoid this condition?

Causes And Symptoms Of Sleep Paralysis

If you find yourself unable to move or speak while you are sleeping, you might have facing sleep paralysis. And unfortunately, there is no specific cure to this. You only have to wait until it is over. Well, let us have a look at the causes and symptoms of sleep paralysis. The most common symptoms and signs are following:

  • Insomnia- causes tiredness all day.
  • Sleeping on your back- causes pain in your backbone, which leads to severe body pain.
  • Abrupt sleep schedule- disturb your whole routine.
  • Mental illness
  • Use of medications

How To Avoid Sleep Paralysis?

Several factors contribute to your likelihood of experiencing it. Once a twin study conducted on 862 participants showed that Genetics is at least partially to blame for sleep paralysis, researchers found that genes accounted for 53 % of this condition occurrence.

If you have a sleep disorder, you also have most likely to have a sleep disorder, and it is also most likely to occur if you sleep on your back and if you don’t get enough sleep regularly.

In general mental health is associated with sleep paralysis. Higher scores on self-reported measures of different modes, and it has been associated with sleep paralysis. Research focusing on this condition and patient with bipolar disorder showed higher prevalence as well.

Another study showed that people with bipolar disorder are more likely to have this condition. There are so many factors associated with sleep paralysis like genetic, sleeping disorders and poor mental Wellness. Besides avoiding or treating these specific risk factors, are there other treatments that could help prevent it?

Treatments For Sleep Paralysis

Well, there are no specific treatments or medications for this condition treatment, but you can prevent it from occurring by only adopting simple habits. These treatments are:

Improving your sleep habits, make sure to have a proper sleep timing of a minimum of 6 to 8 hours. 

  • If you have an abrupt sleep-wake cycle, try to fix it.
  • If you have any mental disorder, do not use self medications or anti-depressants. You must have to consult the specialized doctor.

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