If You Can’t Move After Waking Up, THIS Is What’s Happening To You
Have you ever experienced a nightmare where you were in desperate need to escape a situation but couldn’t move? Every muscle in your body was frozen, but your mind was on fire, frantically trying to will your limbs to budge even an inch. If that nightmare sounds horrifying, imagine waking up and feeling the same.
What is Sleep Paralysis
Sleep paralysis is the feeling of being fully awake and alert but unable to move. When it recurs repeatedly, it becomes a condition called parasomnia. Although many people may believe that sleep paralysis is a symptom of underlying psychiatric problems or indicative of an “evil presence”, it is actually a phenomenon in which a person catches themselves between wakefulness and sleep, resulting in muscle atonia (muscle weakness).
What are the Causes of Sleep Paralysis?
Sleep paralysis is brought on by a person waking up before the REM (rapid eye movement) period of sleep is finished. REM is the point during sleep in which a person experiences dreams, and during that time the muscles are essentially “off”. It’s a biological mechanism that prevents a person from performing the actions that they are dreaming about. During an episode of sleep paralysis, someone wakes before their REM phase has ended, resulting in a conscious mind but inability to move their muscles.
A 2011 study by Pennsylvania State University found that people who suffered from anxiety and depression were more likely to experience sleep paralysis, and there have also been correlations found between sleep medication and other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea being triggers for sleep paralysis episodes.
How Long Does Sleep Paralysis Last?
A typical episode of sleep paralysis lasts from several seconds to a few minutes. Some people report a sensation of choking and inability to breathe when experiencing an episode. In the past, many people believed that sleep paralysis was caused by spirits, demons or ghosts as people who had an episode would report seeing spirits or figures while they were paralyzed.
How to Treat Sleep Paralysis
For those who suffer from sleep paralysis, there are no specific treatments. When addressing the issue, doctors will seek to find the underlying causes of the parasomnia episodes and treat them instead. After one episode, it probably isn’t necessary to go to the doctor’s office, but if the episodes persist and you find yourself unable to get a restful sleep without experiencing an episode of sleep paralysis, or the episodes become longer in duration as time goes on, consulting a medical professional is recommended.
The best way to treat an episode is to stay calm and reassure yourself during the moment that everything is alright and it will pass. Repeat phrases of assurance to yourself, such as, “I’ve had this before, I know what to expect, everything is okay,” or “Just stay calm, keep thinking and this will be over soon.”
How Dangerous is Sleep Paralysis?
Although it may feel like you’re dying, sleep paralysis is not dangerous. In most cases, those who are experiencing recurring episodes may be prescribed an antidepressant such as clomipramine and eventually the episodes will go away.