Have you ever been unable to move, but conscious at the same time? It condition is called sleep paralysis and occurs when a person goes through stages of wakefulness and sleep.
People who have experienced it know how strange it is to wake up and not being able to move any body part, although they are totally aware of everything around them. It is highly frightening phenomenon.
Because the person is paralyzed but conscious at the same time, s/he becomes frightened and disturbed. However, you need to know that many people encounter with this and it doesn’t pose any threat to the body.
This condition takes place during one of the two stages known as “hypnagogic” and “hypnopompic”. Hypnagogic occurs before falling asleep, while the second happens as soon as the person wakes from REM sleep.
When we fall asleep, our body relaxes and the mind becomes less aware. In hypnagogic sleep paralysis, the mind remains aware but the mind is in relaxation state. During REM sleep, the muscles are paralyzed, but some part of the brain wakes.
A study shows that around 8% of the population experiences sleep paralysis. However, people with mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety are more prone to frequent episodes of this condition, including people with an underlying sleep condition, sleep apnea and people who take some specific medications.
This is the list of risk factors:
Sleep problems such as nighttime leg cramps or narcolepsy
Not enough sleep
Bipolar disorder, stress or some other mental conditions
Frequent sleep schedule changes
Sleeping on the back
This paralysis happens naturally, so there are no prescribed treatments. However, if there are other underlying conditions in the diagnosis process, the doctor may prescribe a treatment, such as:
Treating any underlying sleep disorders
Sleeping aids prescription
Recommendation for a mental health professional or a sleep specialist
Sleeping schedule implementation
There are times when you can avoid this sleep paralysis by reducing the stress before going to bed. Also, lack of sleep can contribute to this problem, so try to sleep well for 8 hours and seek professional help if you experience this once.
Finally, lower the intake of caffeine, nicotine, alcohol/drugs and don’t place your electronic devices close to your bed while sleeping.