Sleep Paralysis – Remember when you are in bed but, you feel trapped, you feel weak, like someone is holding you down, you cannot speak, you cannot move, you get frightened.
It’s NOT a spiritual attack, It’s NOT village people, This is “Sleep Paralysis”. It’s NORMAL and it’s HARMLESS.
Most people get this experience once or twice in their lives. Others may get it a bit more. It can be super scary, you feel powerless, and you feel someone is in your room holding you down or something is making you unable to move, speak or struggle;
This is Sleep Paralysis.
It can happen for some minutes. And those minutes can feel like hell, or even feel like you are about to die,
But please do NOT panic, because panicking will technically worsen things for you.
Try to remind yourself: it is harmless, you are not dying, and it will go on its own.
So when does Sleep Paralysis happen?
It happens just as you are about to wake up or as you are about to sleep deeply.
Think of it as temporary muscle paralysis because you are actually sleeping but your brain is still active.
This is a simple way to look at the experience.
What causes Sleep Paralysis?
There is NO exact known cause but as doctors, there are certain conditions it is linked with:
1. It tends to run in families. If family members have it, you may, too.
2. Insomnia: If you don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis, it may cause it.
3. Recently Disrupted Sleep Patterns: If you had your sleep disrupted like staying up to prepare for exams, flying many hours flight, sudden change in work shifts etc. All this can trigger it.
4. Anxiety and Panic: If you panic and have anxiety problems, this can worsen it.
5. Narcolepsy: This is a brain condition where people just fall asleep without warning and at inappropriate times. They may be eating and just fall asleep in the middle of it. Thankfully it’s a rare condition, but it can cause you to have multiple experiences of Sleep Paralysis.
6. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: People who have had a significant terrible event happened to them in the past like war, rape, armed robbery, killing of a loved one in front of them, etc.
Such people may have sleep problems and feelings of being killed while in their sleep.
So what can you do about Sleep Paralysis?
Get 6 hours sleep everyday. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up same time in the morning. Have a strict routine for sleeping and try your best not to disrupt it as much as you can.
Stay off alcohol and caffeine.
Sleep on your side. Not on your back.
Sleeping on your back makes feeling overpowered and helpless feel very worse.
Stay off food after 7pm. It may make you restless at night in bed as your body struggles to digest food you ate very late. And that can trigger sleep paralysis.
NO TV in your room. NO table/chairs for reading or work too. And NO laptops, school books or work documents and files in your room.
These things keep you awake, make your brain distracted from sleep to work/school duties and make it more difficult you to have good healthy sleep.
Only get into bed when you are ready to sleep. Do NOT get into bed and start pressing phone, making serious phone calls, pressing laptop or doing anything that can distract you from sleep.
Have a shower. NO serious exercise 4 hours before bed.
NO smoking. Whether weed, cigarettes, Shisha etc. They contain stimulants that can keep you awake.
If you easily feel anxious, try not to panic, that helps. If you feel you can’t do it on your own, see a doctor or a psychologist.
(Or check “Mind UK” on Google for tips)
I hope you have learnt something today about Sleep Paralysis and what you can do. Remember, while this is a very scary experience, it is HARMLESS.
If you however get it very often or it is affecting your mental health, please see a doctor.
Thanks for reading. Happy new year.
Credit: Dr Olufunmilayo
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