Sleep Paralysis

Sleep paralysis is a strange and fairly frightening phenomenon that makes you conscious but unable to move. This occurs when the person goes through phases of awakening and sleep. Of all the bizarre sensations that a person can live, the fact of not being able to move in the middle of the night, while being aware of what is happening around, is by far the strangest.

What is Sleep Paralysis?

It is a sleep disorder that occurs either before falling asleep completely (hypnagogic) or awakening from paradoxical (hypnopompic) sleep. The person wakes up feeling completely blocked, unable to move his limbs, speak or shout. Experience is often accompanied by hallucinations. This state of paralysis lasts from a few seconds to several minutes.

According to the Center for Information, Research and Consultation on Exceptional Experiences (CIRCEE), this disorder is relatively common and affects 20 to 30% of the population, especially adolescents.

This disorder occurs in the intermediate states between sleep and sleep. Paralysis can occur regardless of the position of the body, but manifests more frequently when the person is lying on his back.

When we fall asleep, our body relaxes deeply as our mind becomes, simultaneously, less conscious. However, when paralysis occurs during the hypnagogic state, the mind remains conscious while the body relaxes involuntarily. It is there that the person realizes that she is paralyzed despite her efforts to move, and that, fearful, she panics.

What causes paralysis?

When we dream (paradoxical sleep), the body does not move because motoneurons of the spinal cord are inhibited by a neurotransmitter: glycine. Normally, this hormone disappears before the end of the dream and the awakening but in some cases it continues to block the muscles and thus the motor functions of the body well after the awakening of the person: thus it is found Paralyzed. The brain, not yet fully awake and afraid, tries to explain this paralysis but eventually produces the hallucinations. In general, they disappear as soon as a specialist explains the functioning of the sleep paralysis to the patient and there is no physical sequelae.

Who is affected?

Some people only experience this once or twice in their lives. Others, on the other hand, make chronic sleep paralysis, several times a week.
A study conducted by the State University of Pennsylvania found that nearly 80% of the population frequently suffered from this paralysis. People with mental disorders (anxiety, depression, etc.), sleep apnea, and those who take certain types of medications are more prone to it.

What are the risk factors ?

  • Lack of sleep
  • Frequent changes in sleeping hours
  • Mental diseases (bipolarity)
  • Sleeping on the back
  • Sleep disorders (narcolepsy, nocturnal cramps in the legs)
  • Some pharmaceutical treatments (Attention Deficit Disorder)
  • Drug and alcohol abuse

How to cure this disorder?

There is no medication-based treatment but some good habits are prescribed:
  • Sleep at regular times
  • Consult with a mental health professional
  • Consume herbal teas with relaxing effects (verbena, chamomile)
  • Going to a Sleep Clinic

Some more tips:

Now that you know what this disorder is, do not run to the doctor at the first episode of paralysis since it does not usually recur. Turn to aromatherapy and reduce stress by practicing a discipline such as yoga.

Adopt a healthy diet, especially for the evening meal.
It is strongly recommended that the use of drugs, alcohol, nicotine and caffeine be restricted or eliminated.

It is advisable to keep your electronic gadgets (Tv, computer, laptop) outside your room so as not to be exposed to waves and blue light that have the effect of disrupting sleep.

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