Frequent sleep paralysis is know as parasomnia. A parasomnia involves unwanted events that come along with sleep. Sleep paralysis causes you to be unable to move your body at either of the two following times:
- When falling asleep
- When waking up
Normally your brain causes your muscles to relax and your body stays still as you sleep, better known as atonia. Sleep paralysis takes place when atonia occurs in a woken state. Sleep paralysis is isolated when it appears without any other signs of narcolepsy.
Paralysis may cause you to be unable to speak. It can also make you unable to move your arms, legs and body. You are still able to breathe normal. You are also fully aware of what is happening. An event can last for seconds or minutes. The event usually ends on its own. It may also end when someone touches you or speaks to you. Making a strong effort to move can also end it. Sleep paralysis may occur only once in your life however for a few it may also happen many times a year, it mostly depends on the person.
It can be very scary when you are unable to move. You may feel anxious and afraid. Some people may also hallucinate during an episode, meaning they might see, hear or feel things that are not there. They may even think that another person is in the room with them. These hallucinations may also appear without the sleep paralysis.
Who can Develop Sleep Paralysis
Up to as many as 4 out of every 10 people may have sleep paralysis. This common condition is often first noticed in the teen years. But men and women of any age can have it. Sleep paralysis may run in families. Other factors that may be linked to sleep paralysis include: Lack of sleep, Sleep schedule that changes, Mental conditions such as stress or bipolar disorder, Sleeping on your back, Other sleep problems such as narcolepsy or nighttime leg cramps and even the use of certain medications. Sleep paralysis is a fairly common sleep problem. Estimates of how many people have it vary widely from 5% to 40%. You may be more likely to have it if a relative also has it.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Sleep paralysis is fairly common. In most cases it does not affect your sleep or overall health. Talk to your doctor if you believe you are experiencing any signs of sleep paralysis or have had any episodes of sleep paralysis. You should also seek medical help if sleep paralysis makes you anxious, keeps you up at night or makes you very tired during the day. The doctor will need to know when the sleep paralysis started. They will want to know how often it occurs and how long it lasts. Be sure to be ready to give up your complete medical history and don’t forget to inform the doctor of any past or present drug and medication use.
Let your doctor know if you have ever had any other sleep disorder. That will be important. Find out if you have any family members with sleep problems. It will also be helpful if you fill out a sleep diary for two weeks. The sleep diary will help them see your sleeping patterns. This information gives the doctor clues about what is causing your problem and how to fix it.
Treatment of sleep paralysis is aimed at whatever causes it to occur. Sleep deprivation may trigger sleep paralysis. In this case try to get at least six to eight hours of sleep per night. You may notice sleep paralysis occurring with leg cramps. It may also happen after a change in your medicines.
There’s no need to fear nighttime. If you have occasional sleep paralysis, you can take steps at home to control this disorder. Start by making sure you get enough sleep. Do what you can to relieve stress in your life just before bedtime. Try new sleeping positions if you sleep on your back. Don’t let sleep paralysis prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep.