There are many people who have a fear of sleep paralysis which is a feeling of being paralysed and unable to move or cry out. It occurs in people who are healthy or mentally ill, and a high percentage of sufferers also have narcolepsy or cataplexy or hypnagogic hallucinations.
Narcolepsy occurs when someone literally nods off at a the drop of a hat, whether standing or sitting, day or night. Cataplexy is a loosening of the limbs, so that the body becomes floppy, and hypnagogic hallucinations occur when someone is falling asleep. Now we have the big words out the way, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of this disorder.
Sleep Paralysis: when does it happen?
Sleep paralysis usually occurs when falling asleep, or when waking up and lasts anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours in very rare and extreme cases. It is as though the conscious mind becomes aware of falling asleep during the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage, or is still partially in the REM stage of sleep when waking up. If sleep paralysis occurs when waking up, (or there may be hallucinations), this is called hypnopompic sleep paralysis (last big word I promise and I can barely pronounce them myself).
It’s thought that hypnagogic or hypnopompic hallucinations may be the cause of alleged alien induction or ghost visitation experiences. I’ve experienced hypnagogic hallucinations and they can be frightening or interesting depending on your own knowledge, interests and experience. What may be one person’s cup of tea might be someone else’s hated beverage, so to speak.
Research indicates that sleep paralysis most commonly occurs when the person sleeps on their back, so a very simple solution is to sleep on your side, with hips and knees aligned. This position is also useful for those who have hip, back or knee problems and may take some strain off the joints.
Treatment for Sleep Paralysis
Another idea is to follow what psychologists call Sleep Hygiene. Personally it always makes me think that you are supposed to wash your hands before bed, but I digress. Sleep routines are super important because sleep is so important for good mental health, and energy the next day. Those who have depression and/or anxiety often have poor sleep as well, although some depressed persons may over-sleep.
Sleep Hygiene refers to the practise of developing and maintaining a habitual routine prior to bed, such as: teeth and toilet and shower, then emptying your mind of any worrying thoughts, practising a relaxation, and then drifting off to sleep. One can also add some positive statements such as “I sleep deeply and dream beautiful dreams every night, and wake refreshed and energised every morning” while imagining that this is occurring.
Sleep Hygiene may also assist with insomnia and other sleep disorders. Look at this for Overcoming Insomnia
Stress and Sleep Disorders
Sleep paralysis is also thought to be triggered by stress, so if there has not been an instance of sleep paralysis for some time, then an increase in stress levels or stressful incidents could be the culprit if sleep paralysis suddenly occurs out of the blue.
How to deal with stress? Practise good self-care with eating well, drinking plenty of water, being kind to yourself mentally and physically, getting exercise, having fun and laughing, and enjoying the company of others. Cut alcohol, tobacco or other drugs down and out if possible, as these are stimulants to the nervous system as is caffeine, cola and chocolate.
Develop an attitude of gratitude and helpfulness towards others as it is a great feeling to know you have helped someone. Most importantly, learn deep breathing and relaxation or meditation techniques and learn how to tame your mind and body as it will pay off in good health, higher immunity to illness and slow down the aging process. What more could you ask for?