Our life is full of unusual phenomena. Some arouse curiosity, others terrify. One of them is sleep paralysis.
What is sleep paralysis and how does it manifest itself?
This is the name of an unpleasant state upon awakening, when a person has already woken up, but at the same time, for some time, he cannot move and speak. The only thing that can be done at this moment is to blink and move the eyes (although in some cases the eyes may be closed at the time of paralysis).
Waking up in this state is scary. In addition, during sleep paralysis, a person may experience a feeling of pressure on the chest, lack of air. Often, the picture of sleep paralysis is supplemented by other unpleasant symptoms: visual and auditory hallucinations. A person can see someone walking around the room (people, strange creatures, ghosts), hear speech, steps, monotonous pulsating sounds, noise, squeak. Sometimes the patient feels that he is turning over from side to side or his body rises above the bed, although in fact the body remains motionless.
Medical perspective on sleep paralysis
Sleep paralysis is the result of incomplete awakening, when the state of wakefulness “mixes” with the stage of REM sleep. In the stage of REM sleep, a person’s muscles are maximally relaxed (physiological paralysis). At the same time, the activity of his brain, on the contrary, is activated. At the same time, rapid movements of the eyeballs occur, and the sleeper sees dreams. That is why during sleep paralysis it is impossible to move, while images, sounds and sensations are wedged into reality. They can be interpreted as “waking dreams”.
Despite the frightening picture, sleep paralysis is not dangerous to health. Even a feeling of difficulty in breathing, lasting for a maximum of two minutes, is not capable of causing harm to health. During sleep paralysis, you cannot die, go crazy, fall into a lethargic sleep. Soon it will surely end: the person’s ability to move is restored, hallucinatory images disappear.
Causes of sleep paralysis
Sleep paralysis occurs as a symptom of a disorder such as narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is characterized by irresistible daytime sleepiness, when a person falls asleep in the most inappropriate places for a few seconds or minutes, after which he wakes up and experiences a surge of energy. Other symptoms of narcolepsy are cataplexy (severe muscle weakness, usually with sudden emotional outbursts), sleep paralysis, hypnagogic and hypnapompic hallucinations (when falling asleep or waking up).
Sometimes this condition is observed in healthy people.
What are the conditions for sleep paralysis?
Sleep paralysis most often occurs in people who do not get enough sleep or sleep in a chaotic pattern. Alcohol, smoking, stress increase the likelihood of its development. The dependence of sleep paralysis on the sleeping position is interesting: the condition developed least often in those who slept on the right side, somewhat more often in those sleeping on the left side, and the most common variant of the development of sleep paralysis was in the supine position.
How to get rid of sleep paralysis
If you wake up in sleep paralysis, don’t panic. The condition does not threaten your life, you have not lost your mind, and this nightmare will end in a maximum of 2 minutes.
Try to get your body in action. To do this, use those muscle groups that are amenable to your control: move your eyes, try moving your tongue in your mouth, the thumb of your left or right hand. Repeat attempts until you feel that the power over the body returns to you.
Another way to get rid of sleep paralysis is to focus on counting, complex calculations, or any other intellectual work. This will help your brain wake up and give you back control over your own body.
After night paralysis is over, to prevent its reoccurrence, normalize your sleep pattern: go to bed at the same time and get up at the alarm clock. Give up bad habits, go in for sports more often. By the way, waking up with an alarm reduces the risk of sleep paralysis: it occurs only when you wake up naturally.