What Is Sleep Paralysis, 8 Facts About This Terrifying Phenomenon
Waking up and being trapped inside your own body sounds like a nightmare. Experts explain sleep paralysis signs and symptoms, causes, and treatmentsâand reveal it’s far more common than you probably realize.
Picture this: You’re curled up during sex, light streaming through your windows, plus you’re ready to roll over and begin your dayâbut for a few terrifying occasions, you can’t move. Your mind will be awake and your eyes can see, yet it’s as though your body is still resting.
This phenomenon is called sleep paralysis. It can be frightening, and it’s more prevalent than you may realize: âAbout 40% of the population has had at least one episode of sleep paralysis,â states Clete Kushida, MD, PhD, medical related director of the Stanford Sleep Medicine Center in Redwood City, California.
Hereâs more information about what’s actually happening to your body when you get up and can’t move. Plus, professionals explain the deceptively simple method to prevent sleep paralysis.
It occurs you’re waking up or falling asleep
Sleep paralysis occurs when youâre in a borderline state between rest and consciousness as youâre dozing off or waking up, says Dr. Kushida. Researchers donât understand why this particular temporary loss of voluntary muscle handle happens. âOne theory is that thereâs some crossover with rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, also known as dream sleep,â says Neil Kline, DO, a sleep disorder physician in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and a representative of the American Sleep Association. âDuring REM sleep we are muscle atonic, which means weâre essentially paralyzed. Itâs believed to be an evolutionary action that occurred to protect us from hurting ourselves while weâre dreaming.â
Hallucinations are often involved
Nightmares are scary good enough when you’re fully asleep; imagine getting one with your eyes open. This happens to three quarters of people along with sleep paralysis, according to Dr. Kushida. âThese hallucinations can be anything from feeling something on your skin, hearing something, seeing something, or feeling like someone is there in the room with you or like youâre levitating,â he says. Yikes.
Sleep paralysis doesnât last long
Luckily for all those experiencing it, sleep paralysis generally passes within seconds or moments, Dr. Kushida says. Still, it may feel like an eternity.
It can happen to anyone
âGender doesnât appear to play a role,â says Dr. Kushida. It usually starts in teenagers plus young adults (20s and 30s) yet may continue later in life, he says. âIt has been shown to run in families as well,â he adds.
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Skimping on sleep puts you in danger
Sleep paralysis is more common that individuals who are sleep deprived. âThe best advice for avoiding sleep paralysis is to make sure you get enough total sleep time,â Dr. Kline says. âWith the amount of distractions and societal demands, sleep deprivation has become a significant problem for all age groups.â On common, most adults need seven . 5 to eight hours an evening, he says. (Learn more about how much rest you really need. )
Stress can also be a factor
Trying to avoid tension as much as possible or taking steps to reduce stress may help lessen the rate of recurrence of sleep paralysis if youâre predisposed to it, Dr. Kushida states.
It may be a sign of one more sleep disorder
Sleep paralysis is really a symptom of narcolepsy, a sleep disorder that causes serious, excessive daytime sleepiness, Dr. Kline says. It may also be a sign which you have sleep apnea or periodic limb motion disorder, in which your legs twitch or jerk during sleep, Dr. Kushida says.
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A sleep specialist can help
If youâre experiencing sleep paralysis many times a year and itâs inside your quality of life, see a sleep doctor. Your doc can help you improve your sleep cleanliness and schedule, as well as rule out additional sleep problems. âBy treating the underlying disorder, you decrease the severity of sleep paralysis and might make it go away,â Dr. (*************************************************************