What could be scarier than waking up and finding you can’t move? No, we are not talking about morning laziness – we are talking about complete physical immobility. This phenomenon is called sleep paralysis. It is traditionally described as feeling like a heavy being is sitting on your chest.
Although sleep paralysis usually occurs between the ages of 20 and 30, it can affect anyone and is not necessarily caused by any disease.
What is sleep paralysis?
From the name everything is already clear. This is a sign that your body is not able to transition normally from one sleep cycle to the next. In other words, the head and brain are awake, but the body is still in a state of deep sleep.
Usually this happens when falling asleep or waking up, that is, at the junction of different states of consciousness.
Sign #1: Inability to move
One of the scariest feelings is feeling stuck in your own body and unable to move.
That is why this phenomenon is called paralysis. You try to move, but you feel a heaviness in your body, as if it is not responding to brain signals.
Sometimes this is accompanied by heaviness in the chest or difficulty breathing. Most likely, this is a consequence of feelings of helplessness and panic.
Sign #2: Inability to speak
You cannot control the mouth in the same way that you control the body. This is an equally terrible feeling: you are trying to call for help, but there is no sound.
Sometimes you feel like you don’t have enough air to make sounds.
Sign #3: Strange dreams or hallucinations
Sleep paralysis hallucinations are like nightmares, only in reality. According to doctors, sleep paralysis occurs between the phases of sleep and awakening. Therefore, dreams seem more vivid, because in fact they are hallucinations.
Immobility, combined with fear, gives rise to truly eerie visions. History knows many cases when it seemed to people that a “demon” or “witch” was sitting on their chest, restricting all movements.
Sleep Paralysis Prevention Tips
Tip #1: Set a strict sleep schedule
Doctors cite lack of sleep and an irregular sleep schedule as the main causes of sleep paralysis. This is quite logical, given that, in essence, sleep paralysis is a violation of the transition between sleep phases.
To prevent this, go to bed and get up at the same time and try to always get enough sleep.
Tip #2: Relax
This, of course, is easier said than done, but relaxation is a great way to avoid sleep paralysis.
Stress and anxiety contribute to sleep paralysis in the same way that they cause nightmares.
Tip #3: See a Doctor
Sleep paralysis occurs in four out of ten people and is usually not a sign of illness.
However, regular sleep paralysis may indicate bipolar disorder or narcolepsy.
In any case, if sleep paralysis is interfering with your life, then it makes sense to see a doctor.
Tip #4: Don’t back on your back
Another way to prevent sleep paralysis is to try not to sleep on your back.
According to statistics, most episodes occur during sleep on the back.
Although it’s hard to control your sleeping position – you can turn around and change it – at least try to sleep on your stomach to give yourself a better chance.
Tip #5: Remember It’s a Physical Issue
Some people with sleep paralysis feel as if they are dying or have been attacked by demons. And if the attack happens at night, by morning it is almost erased from memory.
However, this problem is purely a physical problem. No matter how scared you are, remind yourself that eventually you will wake up anyway.
It won’t get any better, but at least it will be easier.