What is sleep paralysis and how should you treat it? 3 weeks ago

What is sleep paralysis and how should you treat it?

If you've ever woken up and not been able to move or speak for a few minutes, chances are you've experienced sleep paralysis.

The experience can't harm you in any way, but it can be extremely unpleasant and sometimes frightening.

Sleep paralysis tends to affects teenagers and young adults more than it does older people, however it can happen to people of all ages.

It is estimated that up to six percent of people will experience sleep paralysis in their lifetime, whether it's a one off occurrence or if it happens regularly.

People who suffer from sleep paralysis regularly tend to go through it it every couple of months or even weeks, depending on the severity of the condition.

What are the symptoms? 

The most common symptom of sleep paralysis is the inability to talk or move upon waking, however, the paralysis can also occur before going to sleep.

The sensation usually only lasts for a few seconds or at most a minute, but some sufferers have detailed being unable to move for many minutes at a time.

Some people have also reported hallucinating during sleep paralysis, but this is one of the less common side effects of the condition.

Why does it happen? 

There are a few reasons as to why a person might be suffering from sleep paralysis, but the most common one is sleep deprivation or insomnia.

When you're sleeping, it's not unusual for the muscles in your body to become paralysed, however, when you wake up they're supposed to go back to normal.

When this doesn't happen and you can't move or speak, you're experiencing sleep paralysis.

People who have sporadic sleeping patterns and those who suffer from narcolepsy are also more at risk of the sensation.

How is it treated? 

Sleep paralysis can be treated in a few different ways, so if you've been suffering from it don't worry because there are lots of things you can do.

The first is similar to the way you might treat insomnia - by creating a better sleep environment for yourself that involves a dark room, a comfortable mattress, and doing actives during the day that are likely to tire you out, such as exercise.

It's also recommended that you don't consume caffeine close to bedtime while also cutting down on your alcohol and nicotine intake.

If your sleep paralysis is particularly bad, your GP may prescribe you some medication that will change the way your REM sleep works, making it easier for your muscles to work when you wake up.

If you're suffering from sleep paralysis, deprivation, or any other kind of sleep-related issue, you should also go see your doctor if the symptoms persist.

You can read more about sleep paralysis and other sleep-related conditions on the HSE's website.