Home Neurology Sleep Paralysis- Risk factor, symptoms, treatment and prevention

Sleep Paralysis- Risk factor, symptoms, treatment and prevention


Sleep paralysis is a relatively common experience, but it can still be extremely frightening which causes you to be unable to move your body. Sleep paralysis is the presence or persistence of features of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep during the transition into or out of sleep.

It may occur when you are first falling asleep ( hypnagogic ) or when you are waking up (hypnopompic). It usually occur in about 20% of healthy people.

Have you ever experienced the sensation of choking or someone sitting on your chest during onset of sleep or while waking up ? – It might be so called Sleep Paralysis, a sleeping disorder.

How does it occurs ?

During sleep, your body slowly relaxes itself and becomes less responsive to physical signals from your brain. During sleep paralysis, your body begins to go through the relaxation process but your mind is awake enough to notice that is no longer controlling your ability to move or speak.

During waking up your mind regains consciousness before your REM sleep cycle is finished as a result body is relaxed and your muscles are “turned off” so that you can’t physically act out and it seem as though you are unable to move your body parts like your arms and legs, body, and head but you are still able to breathe normally. You are also fully aware of what is happening. It is temporary and typically lasts for just a few seconds.

Who develops Sleep Paralysis ?

Sleep paralysis can be one sign in patient with narcolepsy. It affects both sexes, more likely in teenagers or young adults. Sleep paralysis is often genetic, and most common in those with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression , post-traumatic stress disorder, or panic disorder, use of certain medications, such as those for ADHD, use of certain medications, such as those for ADHD, lack of sleep or a shifting of sleep schedule, Sleeping on the back.

Risk factors of sleep paralysis

• Obstrtive sleep apnea

• Use of alcohol

• Altered sleep pattern

• Nacolepsy ( neurological abnormalities for long time which include reduction of regular sleep – wake cycels pattern.

• Bipolar disorder

• over use of certain medications

• leg cramps that related to sleep .

• Psychological problems and psychiatric problems too.

Differential diagnos of Sleep Paralysis

• Atonic seizers

• Hypokalemic periodic paralysis

• Narcolepsy

• Terrors during night time

• Panic attack at night time

• Cataplexy

What can be done for prevention ?

If you are getting occasional sleep paralysis, you can take some measures at home to control this disorder.
~ The first and foremost is to make sure that you get enough sleep. Try to get at least six to eight hours of sleep per night.
~ If you are going through stressful conditions, do what you can to relieve stress in your life — especially just before bedtime .
~ Try new sleeping positions if you have habit of sleeping on your back.
~ Visit your doctor if it routinely prevents you from getting a good night sleep.

Pharmacological treatment include use of tricyclic antidepressants and selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors which are supposed to suppress the REM sleep.

Sleep Hygiene

1) Limiting daytime naps to 30 minutes.
2) Avoiding stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime.
3) Avoid using alcohol as hypnotic.
4) Regular exercising during morning or day time to promote good quality sleep. As little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as walking or cycling.
5) Take your meal early before your meal time.
6) Maintain a regular bedtime routine.
7) Sleep in a quit and dark room. Mattress and pillows should be comfortable.

Remember that sleep researchers had concluded that, in most cases, sleep paralysis is simply a sign that your body is not moving smoothly through the stages of sleep . Rarely is sleep paralysis linked to deep underlying psychiatric problems.

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