Sleep paralysis is many people’s fear. It can be terrifying if you don’t understand it. It can still cause panic for knowledgeable patients. If you’ve gone through it once, it might’ve been enough to convince you it’s time to seek a solution.
Luckily, sleep paralysis isn’t as harmful as you might believe. It rarely signals a worrisome underlying condition. Even if you experience it often, there’s usually no reason to worry about it.
However, you should learn why it occurs and what you can do about it. We’ll go through sleep paralysis’s causes and its treatment.
A general overview of sleep paralysis
Sleep paralysis’s meaning is simple: it stems from sleep disruption. WebMD has a great article introducing the subject. Sleep paralysis nightmares mean little more than your body failing to move through sleep stages.
If you haven’t experienced it, let’s go through the general experience. These “nightmares” cause you to “wake up” without the ability to move or speak. Some sleep paralysis stories detail vivid hallucinations and sensations like choking.
Today, sleep paralysis nightmares explain many stories of demon apparitions and abductions.
Why does it happen?
While it might feel supernatural, sleep paralysis causes are fairly simple. It occurs before or after regular sleeping processes. Going through it before falling asleep or waking up incurs different paralysis types.
REM sleep is the main mechanism behind sleep paralysis. It’s mainly responsible for dreams. Your body relaxes considerably to avoid movements caused by reacting to your dreams.
People can become aware during this phase, still unable to move. Your brain’s “dream state” causes hallucinations, like shadows and noises.
Is it a serious condition? Does it suggest dangerous conditions?
Thankfully, sleep paralysis isn’t harmful. You may experience dread and anxiety. Nevertheless, it’s akin to the sensations caused by watching a scary film. Your mind reacts to the resulting hallucinations and feelings.
In most cases, sleep paralysis comes from simple conditions. Poor sleep schedules, lacking sleep, and even your sleeping position. However, it can signal problematic conditions, like anxiety disorders and narcolepsy. Substance abuse and medications can cause it as well.
However, sleep paralysis hasn’t signaled dangerous conditions. Most cases require simple lifestyle changes.
The history of sleep paralysis
Reports about sleep paralysis nightmares date to ancient Greek times. However, its medical recognition is relatively recent. Media coverage is primarily responsible for its widespread to non-scientific audiences.
Additionally, sleep paralysis’s paranormal explanations have encouraged empirical studies. While resulting in misconceptions, its growing popularity has attracted scientific research. Thanks to it, today’s understanding is prominent.
Nevertheless, there’s still a lot we don’t know about the phenomenon. Many causes have prevailed, making diagnosis and treatment possible. However, clinical practices are still somewhat uncertain about their health connotations.
Sleep paralysis is noticeably common, but prevalence rates are complicated to determine. Studies have differed in their methodologies. That’s why we’re still learning about the condition, causes, and treatments.
However, the most typically associated risk factors are:
- Hypertension and stress.
- Substance abuse.
- Poor sleep practices.
Sleep disruption tends to cause sleep paralysis. Likewise, sleep paralysis nightmares often disrupt sleep even further. That’s why lifestyle changes are the most common sleep paralysis treatment.
Today, sleep disorder classifications officially recognize sleep paralysis. However, few professionals receive proper training for diagnosing sleep paralysis causes. There’s a somewhat standardized approach:
- Recognizing its presence via sleep paralysis stories. It helps identify isolated episodes—the first step.
- Establishing sleep paralysis’ prevalence is the next step. This stage recognizes sleep paralysis as a condition.
- Ruling out other diagnoses is the last step. It allows professionals to ensure they’re dealing with sleep paralysis. Competing conditions include epileptic seizures, periodic paralysis, and cataplexy.
How can sleep paralysis resolve?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a standard treatment for sleep paralysis. Controlled trials haven’t occurred focused on sleep paralysis treatments. That said, therapy and psychopharmacological solutions have appeared.
Firstly, your healthcare practitioner needs to assess whether you need treatment. Not all patients experience recurrent episodes. Furthermore, treatment depends on your sleep paralysis causes.
Treating the root usually resolves sleep paralysis. For narcolepsy, certain pharmacological treatments have proven to be effective. We cover them later. Therapeutic options include psychoeducation and sleep hygiene correction.
The holistic takeaway
Sleep paralysis is terrifying for most people. Unfortunately, we can do little to offset how our body responds to distressing sights. However, familiarizing with the experience and its causes goes a long way.
If you suffer an episode, try not to panic. Remember that all you’re seeing is your brain failing to stop dreams despite your awareness. Going to a professional is usually unnecessary unless you experience chronic episodes.