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What is sleep paralysis and how to prevent it?

D

o Do you wake up completely motionless after a long nap? At this point it seems like your senses have betrayed you. Your mind is wide awake, but your body is struggling to catch up. Have you ever had trouble breathing at night? You felt like someone was in the room and physically pushing you down. Or maybe you had a stunning awakening that makes you take a deep breath and feel like your life is about to end? You feel your soul watching your lethargic body and you wonder if they will ever be one again.

If you were from a religious background or not, you must have assumed that what was happening was spiritual. Given the nature of some cultural beliefs and practices, you would have been on your knees and praying fervently. You think there is a high probability that it is an attack on your soul. Maybe you’re not right, but maybe you’re not wrong either. Countless cultures believe there is a demonic presence that causes this, especially at night.

Whether this is a “spiritual attack” is an aspect I will not examine here and now. It is best to describe this condition from a medical perspective. The condition is called sleep paralysis. Being unable to speak for a while after waking up or feeling choked. This is exactly the case with sleep paralysis.

What is sleep paralysis?

Photo: EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA/Pexels

Sleep paralysis is a situation where you feel conscious but are unable to move physically. It often comes with intense hallucinations and a sense of impending doom. While not usually harmful, it can be annoying.

Sleep paralysis occurs either when falling asleep or when waking up. It happens when the muscles are still paralyzed while the brain is awake, a condition that occurs naturally during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. This can occur when a person is awakened in the middle of REM sleep or when the natural exit from REM sleep is disrupted.

Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep is a sleep phase characterized by rapid eye movement, low muscle tone, and vivid dreaming. The REM phase typically occurs about 90 minutes after falling asleep and lasts about 10 minutes. During REM sleep, the brain is active and dreams occur. But the body is temporarily paralyzed, which prevents dreams from acting out. REM sleep is thought to play a role in memory consolidation and emotional regulation.

What causes sleep paralysis?

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Photo: EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA/Pexels

Disrupting the typical transition between sleep stages leads to sleep paralysis. Narcolepsy, as well as certain medications and lifestyle choices, such as irregular sleep cycles or sleep deprivation, are the causes of sleep paralysis. Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness that can lead to sleep paralysis. People with narcolepsy may experience a temporary inability to move or speak when falling asleep or waking up.

Irregular sleep patterns can disrupt the normal sleep-wake cycle and make it difficult for the body to transition between sleep phases. Sleep deprivation can also lead to an imbalance in the chemicals in the brain that regulate sleep, which can increase the likelihood of sleep paralysis.

Certain medications, such as antidepressants, can also cause sleep paralysis. This can occur as a side effect of the drug or due to changes in sleep patterns caused by the drug. Sleeping on your back also seems to be one of the causes of this condition.

Check out 5 effective ways to prevent sleep paralysis…

There are several steps that can be taken to prevent or reduce the chance of sleep paralysis.

#1. Maintain a consistent sleep schedule

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Photo: PNW production/Pexels

Going to bed or waking up at a certain time each day can help regulate the sleep-wake cycle. This could reduce the chances of sleep paralysis. Aiming for 7-9 hours of sleep per night can be ensure that the body gets the rest it needs.

Sleeping is an essential activity for the body to function properly. During sleep, the body goes through several stages including deep sleep and REM sleep. During this process, it repairs and rejuvenates itself. Adequate sleep is necessary to maintain physical and mental health.

#2. Avoid certain medications

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Photo: Nataliya Vaitkevich/Pexels

As previously mentioned, certain medications, such as antidepressants, can cause sleep paralysis. If you suspect a medication is causing sleep paralysis, talk to your doctor about alternative options.

#3. Avoid alcohol and drugs

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Photo: Mauricio Mascaro/Pexels

Avoiding alcohol and drugs can help regulate sleep-wake cycles and reduce the risk of sleep paralysis. Because these substances can disturb the normal sleep rhythm and make a deep, restful sleep more difficult.

In addition, they can also cause changes in brain chemistry that can trigger sleep disorders like sleep apnea or insomnia. By avoiding alcohol and drugs, you can improve the quality and duration of your sleep and reduce the risk of sleep paralysis.

#4. Practice relaxation techniques

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Photo: Riccardo/Pexels

It is necessary to develop good sleep habits, like practicing relaxation techniques before bed. Focus on creating a comfortable sleeping environment. This could include a calming playlist. This awareness helps the body relax and fall asleep easily.

#5. Manage medical conditions

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Photo: Pixabay/Pexels

If you have narcolepsy or another underlying condition that may contribute to sleep paralysis, it’s important to work with a doctor to manage the condition.

What are the treatments for sleep paralysis?

#1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

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Photo: Antoni Shkraba/Pexels

This procedure focuses on changing the patient’s sleep-related beliefs and behaviors, and medications such as antidepressants, which can help control the sleep-wake cycle, are two treatments for sleep paralysis.

#2. Lifestyle Adjustments

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Photo: Nathan Cowley/Pexels

Maintaining a regular sleep pattern, cutting out stimulants like alcohol and caffeine before bed, and practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation before bed are some lifestyle changes that can help with sleep paralysis symptoms.

Additionally, it’s important to treat any underlying medical conditions that may be causing sleep paralysis, such as narcolepsy, sleep apnea, or anxiety disorders. Lifestyle adjustments can serve both as preventive measures and as treatment.

Featured image: AndreyPopov/iStock


Medical Disclaimer

All content on the StyleRave.com website, including text, images, audio, video and other formats, is created for informational purposes only. The content is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you think you may be having a medical emergency, please call your doctor, go to the nearest hospital, or call 911 right away, depending on your condition.


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