Do you often find yourself unable to move your body while in bed, and it seems like there’s someone or something in your room that is evidently present and out to harm you? It’s called sleep paralysis, which is a very common phenomenon. Some may experience it once or twice in their lifetime, while others may go through it several times a week or month.
While sleep paralysis feels so terrible, the fact is it won’t put your health and life at risk — unless, of course, you choose to stay wide awake each night in hope of dodging the problem.
Signs and Symptoms
You can easily tell when you are having a bout of sleep paralysis. You know you are wide awake because you are aware of your surroundings, but you cannot move your body. You can see your room and even hear things that are going on outside of it, but you are unable to get out of bed or even scream.
Those are indeed scary. However, what makes having sleep paralysis even frightening is this: it is usually accompanied by a hallucination. A lot of people who suffer from sleep paralysis often feel like there is someone or something with them in the room — or sometimes actually see it — which is out to harm them.
After a few seconds or sometimes several minutes, the terrifying signs and symptoms of sleep paralysis tend to go away on their own. Once they are out of the picture, you will be able to move your body once more. The downside is you may feel anxious or jumpy for the next few minutes because of the whole frightening experience.
Sleep paralysis can happen while you are falling asleep or waking up. Experts say that it is due to your body’s failure to move through various stages of sleep smoothly. They add that sleep paralysis has nothing to do with psychiatric problems — anyone regardless of the gender, age and mental fitness can have sleep paralysis.
To be more specific, sleep paralysis strikes when REM — short for rapid eye movement, and it’s that stage of sleep when dreams occurs because the brain is active — happens just when you are about to fall asleep or wake up, which is not normal. No one really knows why this can happen, but scientists believe that it can be brought about by certain factors, such as not getting enough sleep, having erratic sleeping patterns, and a family history of it.
Also, they add that your body may be keeping you from being able to move or speak because it is keeping you out of harm’s way — it is preventing you from acting out whatever you’re dreaming about.
Most of the time, sleep paralysis is experienced by an individual only once or twice in his or her life. However, some people may actually encounter it more often.
Basically, sleep paralysis is nothing serious. However, it can be a real problem if it tends to happen on a regular basis, making the affected individual feel anxious during bedtime. Seeing a doctor is a good idea if sleeping at night is leaving you frightened, causing you to be deprived of sleep and feeling very drowsy the following day.
To date, there is no known treatment available for sleep paralysis. However, there are many steps that a person who encounters it on a regular basis may take to keep the problem at bay. Some of them include:
- Avoiding having a big meal just before bedtime
- Steering clear of drinking alcohol and coffee at night
- Quitting cigarette smoking
- Coming up with a comfortable sleeping environment
- Going to bed and getting up at approximately the same time
- Exercising during the day for a good night’s sleep