" Sleep paralysis is a condition characterized by temporary paralysis of the body shortly after waking up (known as hypnopompic paralysis) or, less often, shortly before falling asleep (known as hypnagogic paralysis).
Physiologically, it is closely related to the paralysis that occurs as a natural part of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is known as REM atonia. Sleep paralysis occurs when the brain awakes from a REM state, but the bodily paralysis persists. This leaves the person fully aware, but unable to move. In addition, the state may be accompanied by hypnagogic hallucinations.
The primary symptom of sleep paralysis is partial or complete skeletal muscle paralysis during the hypnopompic or hypnagogic states. In other words, it is the sense of being aware that one is unable to move or speak while falling asleep or waking up. Sleep paralysis may also be accompanied by hypnagogic hallucinations. These hallucinations can be auditory, tactile, and/or visual."
I have the hypnagogic version. Despite having it for years it still scares the absolute hell out of me every time it happens. I am always convinced that I am not breathing when it happens, which in turn makes me panic. In order to break it you really have to focus every part of your whole being on either moving your eyes, facial muscles or to make a noise in hopes of waking up the person next to you. It happened to me about 15 times this morning. That caused me to only get about three hours of sleep today and I have to work 10 hours tonight. Man I am exhausted.
Here are some of the things believed to cause sleep paralisys.
Sleep paralysis occurs during REM sleep in order to prevent the body from manifesting movements made in the subject's dreams. Very little is known about the physiology of sleep paralysis. However, some have suggested that it may be linked to post-synaptic inhibition of motor neurons in the pons region of the brain. In particular, low levels of melatonin may stop the depolarization current in the nerves, which prevents the stimulation of the muscles, to prevent the body from enacting the dreamt activity (e.g. preventing a sleeper from flailing his legs when dreaming about running).
Many people who commonly enter sleep paralysis also suffer from narcolepsy. However, various studies suggest that many or most people will experience sleep paralysis at least once or twice in their lives.
While I am a longtime sufferer of SP I do not suffer from narcolepsy.
Some reports read that various factors increase the likelihood of both paralysis and hallucinations.
Let's see how many of these possible causes I have.
Sleeping in an upwards supine position (no)
Irregular sleeping schedules; naps, sleeping in, sleep deprivation (Yes)
Increased stress (Boy Howdy!)
Sudden environmental/lifestyle changes ( I live on the edge of chaos)
A lucid dream that immediately precedes the episode. (Sometimes)
Also conscious induction of sleep paralysis is a common technique to enter a state of lucid dreams, also known as WILD . (I can't imagine anyone doing it on purpose)
Artificial sleeping aids, ADD medications and/or antihistamines. (Yes)
Recent use of hallucinogenic drugs. (Gave up hallucinogenics long, long ago)
Here are some potential treatments;
During paralysis episodes, patients may be advised to try moving the facial muscles and moving eyes from one side to the other. This may hasten the termination of the attack.
Clonazepam is highly effective in the treatment of sleep paralysis. (No thanks...I've been a Klonipin junkie before) The initial dose is 0.5 mg at bedtime, while an increase to 1 mg per night might be necessary to maintain potency. Anecdotal reports indicate SSRIs such as fluoxetine markedly decrease the incidence of sleep paralysis. Several people who have been both on and off SSRIs have reported corresponding decreases and increases in sleep paralysis episodes. Others report no effects at all.
I always try and make noise to wake up my husband who can then reach over and shake me thereby re-engaging my muscles. Sometimes I think I am making incredibly huge amounts of noise when in reality I haven't made a squeak. Other times I am able to manage a low, urgent whine, which usually helps me to wake up. I try moving my eyes. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. If I keep laying in bed after an episode then it occurs over and over and over. I get scared because it is going to happen again and then I can't get back to sleep. It's a vicious circle.
Do any of my readers suffer from it? How do you combat it?
YAWN!!! It is now time to get ready for another very long shift at Wal-Mart which is about the last thing on planet earth I want to do. I think being boiled in oil might be more fun. Hope y'all sleep well...I know I won't be.