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What is Sleep Paralysis?

Sleep paralysis is one of the most common symptoms of one of the most life threatening sleep disorders, narcolepsy. However, not all people who experience sleep paralysis every once in a while are suffering or diagnosed with narcolepsy. In fact, 20% to 40% of the entire population is affected with sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis can affect children as young as 10 years old and it can episodes of sleep paralysis decrease when after 17 years of age.

Characteristics of Sleep Paralysis

Sleep Paralysis

There are two events when sleep paralysis can occur, it can be when a person is waking up from sleep, which is known as hypnopompic sleep paralysis, or it can happen when a person is falling asleep, which is known as hypnagogic sleep paralysis. Characteristics of sleep paralysis include:

  • Inability to move extremities or just a specific limb
  • Unable to move muscles
  • Unable to move the entire body

Sleep paralysis can last for only a few seconds up to 2 minutes. During sleep paralysis, a person can also experience hallucinations. Hallucinations can vary from each person. Hallucinations occurring together with sleep paralysis can be visual, auditory, or tactile in nature.

How to Prevent Sleep Paralysis

Sleep paralysis can be occur every once in a while, and it can last a lifetime. However, there are some ways that can be done to help in managing symptoms of sleep paralysis. If sleep paralysis is caused by underlying problems, it will be best if the underlying problem/s should be treated in order to effectively get rid of sleep paralysis. Antidepressants are also used sometimes, to help in improving or decreasing episodes of sleep paralysis. There is a test that can be done to evaluate episodes of sleep paralysis in patients, which is known as a sleep study.

Causative Factors of Sleep Paralysis

There are a lot of speculations on what are the possible causes of sleep paralysis. In fact, there are people who believe in that sleep paralysis is caused by supernatural elements, such as ghosts, spirits, demons, etc. However, there are proven factors, “scientific factors”, that are associated with episodes of sleep paralysis. These causative factors of sleep paralysis include:

  • Lack of Sleep or Fatigue
  • Too much stress
  • Disrupted sleeping schedule
  • Psychological problems, such as Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia
  • People who sleep on their back
  • Narcolepsy
  • Restless Legs Syndrome
  • Substance Abuse
  • Medications