If you are one of those who have experienced waking up at night, unable to move any part of the body, means that you have experienced a condition called sleep paralysis.
Sleep paralysis can happen when you pass hypnopompic and hypnagogic stage, or in other words the stages of sleep and wakefulness. The first stage happens when you wake up, but the second stage happens when you fall asleep.
This is a strange and very frightening situation, which can even cause a panic attack because you cannot control your own body. But, you need to know that this phenomenon is not rare, and cannot cause physical damage to your body.
When we fall asleep, our body and mind become less aware. However, when we are in the hypnagogic sleep paralysis, our mind is aware. During this phase our body is in a relaxation state that is involuntary, so we cannot move.
During REM sleep, our muscles are paralyzed, but our brain wakes up when we are experiencing hypnopompic sleep paralysis. Some people never experience this phenomenon, but some people often suffer from sleep paralysis. Researchers at Penn State University say that 8% of the population frequently experience sleep paralysis.
Sleep paralysis as also common in people that are suffering from sleep problems like sleep apnea, in cases of mental disorders like depression and anxiety, or because of the use of some medications.
These are the risk factors
- Lack of sleep
- Substance abuse
- Sleep problems like narcolepsy and nighttime leg cramps
- Mental conditions like stress and bipolar disorder
- Frequent changes in sleep schedule
- Sleeping on the back
Some medications like the ones that are used for treating ADHD
Sleep paralysis is characterized by an inability to speak and an inability to move for several seconds or even minutes during that time. This phenomenon cannot be treated with the help of medications. However, doctors usually prescribe some of the following treatments:
- Referral to a sleep specialist
- Treatment of any underlying sleep disorders
- Implementation of a sleeping schedule
- Sleeping aid prescription
- Referral to a mental health specialist
- Prescription for some anti-depressants
Sleep paralysis can be prevented by managing stress and by improving the quality of your sleep. But, you need to know that if you rarely experience this problem, you don’t need a professional help, but you should try and improve your sleeping habits.
Also, we recommend you to limit the intake of caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and always avoid using electronic devices before going to bed. If you experience this phenomenon at night, you need to remain calm, because you are safe and nothing can happen to you, and the whole thing will be over soon.