Perhaps you've had an episode of sleep paralysis and you've come here to find some answers or maybe you've lived with it for an extended amount of time. However, for those of us who don't suffer from this terrifying disorder it is almost impossible to understand the total lack of control and helplessness that comes with it. Complaints of symptoms associated with sleep paralysis have been well-documented over the centuries and, in some cases, people were apt to believe that the disorder was the work of demons.
One of the main reasons for this thinking is some of the many symptoms associated with sleep paralysis, one in particular, is hypnagogic hallucinations. Hallucinations are defined as a sense of a presence of something or someone without the stimuli. Hypnagogic hallucinations, like sleep paralysis, have come to be associated with sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy. People who have been suspected of having sleep paralysis have often complained about the following factors as they are lying conscious but unable to move or speak:
- Someone something is present in the room with them.
- Someone or something is sitting, leaning or pressing on their chest.
- Impending doom, death and suffocation.
It can be easily seen how people with a higher sensitivity to the occult, religion and superstitions have been inclined to think of an evil presence causing the disorder.
Sleep paralysis is the inability to perform voluntary muscle movements at the onset of sleep or upon just wakening. It sometimes is referred to by other names such as isolated sleep paralysis and familial sleep paralysis. When a sleeping test is conducted, known as a polysomnography, the symptoms can be effectively confirmed.
Although frightening and disturbing, sleep paralysis is not harmful. It is most often associated with the sleep disorder narcolepsy, which is a neurological condition that causes a person to have uncontrollable sleeping fits, or naps, throughout the day. The onset of narcolepsy is often associated with mental or emotional stimuli. However, many people who do suffer from sleep paralysis exhibit zero signs of narcolepsy.
Usually in the midst of a sleep paralysis episode, which can last minutes or hours, the body will abruptly or gradually retain control. It is important to note that though sleep paralysis is frightening because they don't know what is happening to them, only the voluntary muscle movement that is lost. All vital involuntary muscle movement is kept, such as breathing, blinking and swallowing.
There are measures that can be taken to ward of episodes of sleep paralysis. Medication is available for the most severe cases which is the presence of symptoms that occur one time a week for a period of six months. It seems like a long time to go in order to prove that your case is severe, but the medication is usually a strong sleeping aid that controls the body's REM sleep and ensures a good nights rest. Sporadic sleep schedules and numerous jolts awake during the night, such as the type that fire fighters may get when an alarm goes off, are two of the suspected reasons for sleep paralysis.
When medication is not an option for sleep paralysis, it is recommended that you practice good and healthy sleeping habits. These practices include:
- Getting adequate rest consistently.
- Minimizing stress in life.
- Ensuring that a person's sleep schedule is kept normal and consistent.