Sleep Paralysis is the temporary feeling of being conscious but unable to move from bed that occurs when a person passes between stages of wakefulness and sleep. It is one of the most common causes affecting more than 10 million people per year in India. It occurs during one of two times. Hypnagogic or predormital sleep paralysis occurs while you are falling asleep and Hypnopompic or postdormital sleep paralysis occurs when you are waking up. Even though the condition is not life-threatening, Some people may also feel pressure or a sense of choking.
Sleep Paralysis involves a sudden and short term inability to move or speak while falling asleep or upon waking. In an exclusive interaction with Dr. Praveen Gupta, Paediatrician & General Physician explains that this disorder mostly occurs in people who have narcolepsy or sleep apnoea, sleep deprivation, migraine, anxiety disorders and regular intake of alcohol, but it can affect anyone. It is noted that between 8% and 50% of the population worldwide experience sleep paralysis at some point in their life.
Symptoms Of Sleep Paralysis
The prime and most obvious symptom of sleep paralysis is not to move or speak during awakening from a deep sleep. Imagined sounds for example humming, hissing, static, zapping and buzzing noises are reported in people when they experience sleep paralysis.Other sounds such as voices, whispers and roars are also reported. Doctors and experts explain that one may even feel pressure on their chest and intense pain in their head during such an episode. These symptoms are usually accompanied by intense emotions involving sheer fear and/or panic. People also experience sensations of being dragged out of bed or like that of flying, numbness and feelings of electric tingles or vibrations running all through their body.
Sleep paralysis is usually self-diagnosed. The sleep paralysis episodes involve not being able to speak or move while falling asleep or right upon waking up. This usually lasts for about one or two minutes and is often frightening. People may experience common symptoms such as paralysis, anxiety or hallucination during and after an episode.
Causes Of Sleep Paralysis
Sleep paralysis occurs in a person when he or she cannot move their muscles as they are waking up or falling asleep. This is because the person is in sleep mode but your brain is active. The doctors say that it is not clear yet as to why sleep paralysis can happen but it has been linked with:
- Disrupted sleeping patterns
- Narcolepsy (A long-term condition that causes a person to suddenly fall asleep)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Anxiety disorder
- Panic disorder
- Family history of sleep paralysis
Treatment Of Sleep Paralysis
The treatment depends on severity. The main treatment is stress management and improving sleep habits (sleep hygiene)
Strategies for improving sleep hygiene include ensuring 6 to 8 hours of sleep per night, keeping bedtime and wakeup time consistent, maintaining a dark temperate bedroom, reducing light exposure in the evening. One may also use night-lights for bathroom trips at night, getting good daylight exposure during waking hours, not eating a heavy evening meal or eating within 2 hours of going to bed, abstaining from evening alcohol or caffeine products, exercising daily, but not within 2 hours of bedtime.
In an exclusive interaction with OnlyMyHealth editorial team, Dr Srikanta J T, Consultant- Paediatric Interventional Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine, Aster CMI Hospital, elucidates that the treatment of sleep paralysis is aimed only after evaluating underlying medical conditions like narcolepsy (a chronic sleep disorder that causes overwhelming daytime drowsiness) that may be contributing to the frequency or severity of episodes. Improving sleep habits, addressing any mental health problems that may contribute to sleep paralysis or using antidepressant medication if it is prescribed to help regulate sleep cycles may help.