Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night, unable to move and aware of some evil presence watching you? If so, you possibly experienced an episode of sleep paralysis. This condition, while mostly harmless, can be profoundly terrifying and confusing.
A nighttime disorder that traps victims in a state between wakefulness and rest, sleep paralysis renders people aware of their surroundings but immobile. Episodes typically last a few minutes, and it's believed that up to 50% of all Americans experience the condition at least once in their lives. Sufferers often feel a sense of impending doom or dread during episodes; they may also experience hypnagogic hallucinations and difficulty breathing.
While scary sleep paralysis stories are common, doctors and sleep professionals suggest several ways to prevent frequent episodes.
While there are many tips for dealing with sleep paralysis, nothing is as useful as advice from a qualified physician or sleep expert. Sleep paralysis is not necessarily a dangerous disorder, but persistent episodes can impact one's mental health.
Additionally, sleep paralysis can be a symptom of other sleeping disorders like narcolepsy. If you experience chronic bouts of sleep paralysis, it's probably best to speak with a medical professional to learn if there is a greater issue at hand.
Specialist Clete Kushida, an authority on the subject of sleep paralysis, suggests avoiding naps throughout the day. Napping can affect the normal sleep cycle and hinder uninterrupted nighttime rest, thereby causing persistent sleep paralysis. Kushida believes those who nap often tend to experience sleep paralysis more than their counterparts.
If you absolutely must rest frequently throughout the day, take naps at scheduled times.
Sleep deprivation is strongly associated with sleep paralysis. The condition might affect how quickly one falls asleep. Sleep expert Clete Kushida notes, "There seems to be some evidence that people who are sleep deprived enter REM very quickly, which means they're still awake as their body gets paralyzed."
Consequently, staying up too late can have detrimental side effects.
One of the keys to a healthy sleep life is consistency. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day not only decreases the likelihood of sleep paralysis, but it can also improve the quality of your sleep and overall wellbeing. Block out about six to eight hours of sleep every night, and don't hit the snooze button on your alarm.
A healthy sleep cycle may prevent future episodes of resting paralysis.