Are you currently looking for a sleep paralysis definition that’s easy to understand but the ones that you find on the web seem to leave you with more questions than answers? Look no further! Below you will come across some of the most important facts that you need to know about sleep paralysis.
Feel free to share this article on social media once you’re through checking out its entirety. Also, don’t be too shy to place in the comments section below your experience with this terrifying sleep issue!
Getting to Know the Problem
Let us begin by knowing what sleep paralysis is. Just like what the name suggests, it is something that can leave you feeling paralyzed while you’re in bed.
Many people know that it can happen as a person moves from being asleep to being awake. However, not a lot are aware that it can also strike as a person goes from being awake to being asleep. See to it that you keep on reading to know what those types of sleep paralysis are called!
Experts say that sleep paralysis occurs when a person is transitioning from a state of sleep to wakefulness, or sometimes the other way around. Basically, it’s all about having a problem with moving from one state of the sleep-wake cycle to the other.
Sleep paralysis is sometimes associated with certain sleep disorders — problems that can cause changes in the way you sleep. One of those sleep disorders that are linked to sleep paralysis is called narcolepsy, which is characterized by the presence of excessive and uncontrollable sleepiness during the day.
However, it’s important to note that you could have sleep paralysis even if you don’t have any sleep disorder. So in other words, it can happen to anyone! Later on in this article, we will talk about the things that are considered as causes for sleep paralysis, so make sure that you don’t stop reading now!
There are Two Kinds of Sleep Paralysis
As mentioned earlier, it’s possible for sleep paralysis to happen when you are waking up as well as when you are falling asleep. Let’s take a quick look at them for a better understanding of this sleep-related matter:
- Hypnopompic sleep paralysis. Also sometimes referred to as postdormital sleep paralysis, this type of sleep paralysis happens as you go from being asleep to awake. This occurs when your mind and eyes are already awake, but the rest of your body is still asleep. During this type of sleep paralysis, dreams could still happen.
- Hypnagogic sleep paralysis. This type of sleep paralysis is the complete opposite of the one that we have already discussed — it happens as you move from being awake to asleep. Because you are sleepy during this time, you tend to not be aware of the phenomenon. By the way, it is also called predormital sleep paralysis by the experts.
Let’s get one thing straight: both types of sleep paralysis can leave a person feeling terrified because he or she is conscious but cannot move.
However, in many instances hypnagogic sleep paralysis (the one that occurs when a person is transitioning from wakefulness to a state of sleep) doesn’t cause fear as moving from being awake to being asleep can make you less and less conscious, thus keeping you from noticing the issue. But still at times you may realize that you cannot move or speak.
Checking Out the Different Symptoms
By now you already have a clear idea of what happens when sleep paralysis occurs: you are unable to move your body or say anything, but you are aware of what’s going on around you.
The inability to move can last anywhere from several seconds to a few minutes. The longer this sleep disorder takes place, the more terrifying it gets!
However, did you know that there are a few other sleep paralysis symptoms that are not being mentioned as often as being paralyzed? Actually, some of the things that you may experience while in a state of sleep paralysis can be more paralyzing than not being able to move your body!
The following are some of the symptoms that you may encounter:
- Hallucinations. One of the reasons why those who suffer from sleep paralysis are terrified of encountering it is that it can leave them seeing or sensing things that can cause fear. The problem with hallucinations associated with sleep paralysis is that they are not only visual, but auditory and tactile as well — you may hear or feel strange things, too!
- Chest pressure. Many of those who suffer from sleep paralysis often report experiencing pressure in their chest. At times it may appear to them as though they are being strangled or smothered. Chest pressure and hallucinations can sometimes strike together, and some sleep paralysis sufferers believe that they are being sexually assaulted by a supernatural being like an incubus or succubus, which is a type of demon.
- Difficulty breathing. Another really scary symptom of sleep paralysis is being unable to breathe properly. Experts say that this can be attributed to hyperventilation, which is characterized by taking rapid and shallow breaths. If you have experienced hyperventilation in the past, then you know very well that it can cause breathing difficulty.
There’s a bunch of other symptoms of sleep paralysis. They include inability to speak or scream, numbness, sweating, and feeling like you are about to die.
Risk Factors for Sleep Paralysis
When sleep paralysis risk factors are being talked about, it simply means that we are looking at some of the things that can increase your chance of suffering from sleep paralysis. It’s important to get to know them especially if you would like to considerably decrease your odds of encountering this sleep-related issue.
Earlier in this article, we mentioned that having certain sleep disorders can leave you with sleep paralysis. One very common example is narcolepsy.
But then again, there is no need for you to suffer from narcolepsy or any other sleep disorder just for you to end up with sleep paralysis. You could be completely healthy but still have sleep paralysis! The following are considered as some of the most common risk factors for sleep paralysis:
- Failure to get enough sleep the night before
- Changes in sleep schedule
- Sleeping on your back
- Too much stress
- Mental conditions such as anxiety and depression
- Certain medications
- Substance abuse
- Having relatives with sleep paralysis — yes, it can run in families!
Now that you have an idea of some of the things that can increase your risk of having sleep paralysis, it can be easier for you to dodge it. Continue reading to know some of the steps that you may take in order to fend off the problem, especially if it’s already affecting the quality of your everyday living.
How Sleep Paralysis is Dealt With
So, is there a drug that can be taken by someone who is suffering from sleep paralysis? Well, a simple answer to that is: yes, there is a drug that may be prescribed by a doctor to put sleep paralysis under control. Usually, it comes in the form of an antidepressant, and the goal for it is to intake it to regulate one’s sleep cycle.
Your doctor may prescribe you with antidepressants if your bout of sleep paralysis can be blamed on a sleep disorder that can be managed by the drug. The same is true if you are battling anxiety or depression.
However, most people do not really need to pop a pill just to be able to deal with sleep paralysis. The fact is that it can be managed with the help of a few lifestyle changes. This is especially true if sleep paralysis occurs once in a while only and does not really have a considerable impact on a person’s life.
The following are some of the things that you may give a try:
- Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night
- Stick to the same nightly sleep schedule
- Perform meditation and other activities that can help to reduce stress and anxiety
- Sleep on your side rather than on your back
- Inform your doctor if you feel like a prescription drug is the culprit
Experts confirm that you should refrain from forcing yourself to move or fight off the terrifying symptoms during sleep paralysis. That’s because it can in fact make the symptoms worse. What’s more, it can make the sleep paralysis episode to run even longer! So the next time it happens, the best thing for you to do is relax and wait for it to pass.
Sleep paralysis can be a very terrifying experience. It can even make you think that you are dying. The good news is that experts agree that sleep paralysis is not actually dangerous. So in other words, it won’t put your life in danger.