HEALTH CENTER

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Sleep Paralysis by Christie Hayes

You are lying awake in bed completely unable to move. Regardless of how hard you try, you cannot even manage to lift your hand. This may sound like a fictional symptom, but this is the reality of sleep paralysis. Centuries ago, the sleep disorder was thought to be the bidding of evil spirits and demons. Now, scientists attribute sleep paralysis to the transition period between the state of sleep and wakefulness.

Typically, sleep paralysis occurs between the middle stages of waking up and falling asleep. The mind is awake, but the body is unable to respond to any consciousness of movement. Regardless of all attempts in prompting the body to move, an individual may lie frozen in a paralyzed state, fully aware of his surroundings, from seconds to as long as a few minutes.  In some cases, sleep paralysis is accompanied by the feeling of choking or the inability to breathe. The condition is linked to other disorders such as narcolepsy, migraines, and anxiety. Thankfully, in a majority of cases, sleep paralysis poses few health threats, aside from the terror of the feeling itself.

In order to prevent the occurrence of sleep paralysis, those who are predisposed should avoid sleeping on their backs.  A consistent sleep schedule that provides a sufficient amount of sleep may also help.  Furthermore, avoiding stimulants and minimizing stress can also aid in ridding of the sleep disorder.

If you ever experience sleep paralysis, there are a few steps you can take to calmly bypass the encounter. First, recognize that you are experiencing sleep paralysis. Try to focus on body movement; sometimes, you will gain movement in your toes, fingers, or other parts of the body. Move your eyes back and forth, as this has shown to relieve the paralyzed state of being. Focused breathing works, as well.  Maintain concentration on the provided recommendations until the paralysis breaks.

For those experiencing exceptional periods of sleep paralysis, an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor), or mood influencers, like Paxil and Zoloft may prove to be effective in reducing occurrences.  Continual education regarding the sleep condition is helpful in relieving any anxiety that an individual may have concerning sleep paralysis.

The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.