Sleep paralysis is one of the most concerning, scary experiences one can go through, especially if you have no idea what’s going on. Somewhere between 60-80% of people experience sleep paralysis at least one point in life. I have read multiple articles explaining why sleep paralysis occurs, and it turns out there is no definite answer. However, the best conclusion to date is that sleep paralysis occurs because your brain shuts off most muscle function while you are in REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep to prevent you from acting out your dreams. The problem occurs when your brain turns on the “paralysis switch” before you fully are asleep, or your brain does not turn off the paralysis switch as you awaken.
During that period of disconnect, extreme fear and discomfort occurs. Hallucinations are common, and the impending fear of something “bad” happening sets in. What’s worse is that you cannot move much more than your eyes, fingers or toes. The key is to understand that sleep paralysis is occurring, and to do your best to avoid panicking. Move your eyes, fingers and toes as much as possible. Try groaning or moaning and you will soon come out of the paralysis. Easier said than done…
Most cases only last a few seconds to minutes.
Fortunately, there are strong correlations to certain variables and sleep paralysis. Controlling these circumstances can help you treat sleep paralysis altogether.
Treat Sleep Paralysis:
- Do not sleep on your back, or in the supine position. Sleep on your stomach or side. Also, try sleeping propped up on at least two pillows in the event you turn to your backside during sleep.
- You gotta reduce the stress in your life, somehow. Sleep paralysis is strongly correlated with levels of stress in your life. Now may be the time to start an exercise program and meditation.
- Avoid napping. Clearly, there is a disconnect in communication between your brain and body. Napping seems to confuse this connection further, because you are not fully committed to sleeping. If you are “half sleeping” then your body may switch your “paralysis switch” on when you don’t want it to. You want to wake up and guess what? The switch is on and you are stuck, not able to move. Therefore, do what you can to avoid napping. If you do nap, make sure you are in a quiet room without distractions, such as TV, other people, etc. Set an alarm, so you can wake up easily and suddenly.
- Exercise. Clearly, exercising can help reduce stress, improve brain function and may help to reduce your sleep paralysis occurrences.
- See your doctor. In some cases, other sleep disorders are correlated with sleep paralysis. You may need a sleep study to find out if a more serious disorder is affecting your sleep. Your doctor may also prescribe a certain medication to help regulate your sleep cycles.
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