Sleep paralysis is a condition, when you’re aware of your surroundings but cannot move or speak. But you can still move your eyes and breathe. Many people hear or see things that aren’t there (hallucinations), making episodes even more frightening.The episode last anywhere between a few seconds and a few minutes.
The core symptom of sleep paralysis is the inability to move the body when falling asleep or waking. However, during these episodes, people may experience other symptoms, including:
• being unable to speak during the episode
• having hallucinations and sensations
• feeling pressure on the chest
• having difficulty breathing
• headaches and muscle pains
During the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep stage, you’re likely to have dreams. The brain prevents muscles in your limbs from moving to protect yourself from acting dreams out and hurting yourself. Sleep paralysis happens when you regain awareness going into or coming out of REM. Because narcolepsy is characterized by unstable wakefulness and unstable sleep, people with narcolepsy have frequent night awakenings that can be associated with sleep paralysis.
Risk Factors –
Factors that may increase the risk of such problem include –
• Irregular sleeping patterns, due to things like jet lag or shift work
• A family history of sleep paralysis
• Diseases like depression, migraine, obstructive sleep apnea, hypertension, anxiety disorders etc.
Healthcare providers confirm or rule out sleep paralysis after an evaluation. They may ask you about:
• Symptoms, such as how often you experience this condition, what it feels like and when it started.
• Sleep, such as how many hours you sleep at night and whether you feel tired during the day.
• Medical history, including medications you are taking and whether you smoke, use alcohol or illegal drugs.
• Mental health disorders, which may include anxiety, post-traumatic stress or depression.
• Family history of sleep paralysis.
Your healthcare provider may recommend testing if they suspect a sleep disorder. You may need:
• Overnight sleep study (polysomnogram)
The test monitors your breathing, heartbeat and brain activity while sleeping. It may enable healthcare providers to observe an episode of sleep paralysis or detect issues like sleep apnea.
• Multiple sleep latency test (MSLT)
This test measures how quickly you fall asleep and what kind of sleep you experience during a nap. The test helps uncover issues such as narcolepsy (unusual daytime sleepiness).
Most people need no treatment for sleep paralysis. Treating any underlying conditions such as narcolepsy may help if you are anxious or unable to sleep well.
These treatments may include the following:
• Improving sleep habits — such as making sure you get six to eight hours of sleep each night
• Using antidepressant medication if it is prescribed to help regulate sleep cycles
• Treating any mental health problems that may contribute to sleep paralysis
• Treating any other sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy or leg cramps
Your doctor may prescribe certain drugs to help manage your sleep paralysis if narcolepsy is the underlying cause.
The most commonly prescribed medications are stimulants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as fluoxetine (Prozac). Stimulants help you stay awake
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