Sleep paralysis is something nobody ever wants to experience, despite the fact that the issue is pretty harmless. It is essentially a temporary loss of muscle function while you are sleeping. It often occurs just as you are falling asleep, shortly after you have fallen asleep, or just as you are waking up. Below you will find more information on the history of sleep paralysis and what you can do if you are experience issues with your sleep.
History of Sleep Paralysis
Up until the late 19th century, the term “nightmare” was used to describe sleep paralysis. While the term nightmare is now modernly used to describe an unpleasant dream, the word had a long history and a close relationship with what we now know as sleep paralysis. As early as ancient Mesopotamia through the Roman Empire, a demon referred to as “incubus” was what people blamed bad dreams on. The incubus was said to have sat on your chest and induced terrible dreams and made it so you could not move. While we now know that bad dreams are not from a demon named incubus, there is always so much to learn about the process of sleeping.
Modern Explanations for Sleep Paralysis
Sleep paralysis is much simpler than it was explained and understood thousands of years ago. The condition occurs when your brain and body are not synced up during the sleep process. When you have a normal night’s sleep, your brain dispatches messages to the nervous system without issue. For example, when your brain sends messages to your nervous system to relax your muscles, your muscles then become inactive during sleep. This is helpful as it protects your body from moving a lot during sleep. Just like when you fall asleep, your brain sends the message to your nervous system to wake your muscles up and end the inactive, relaxed state. When this process does not happen in a normal way, sleep paralysis can occur. Sleep paralysis occurs when the brain and body are out of sync.
Children and adults of all ages can be impacted by sleep paralysis. However, certain groups are at a higher risk of sleep paralysis. Higher risk groups include individuals with:
- Anxiety disorders
- Major depression
- Bipolar disorder
- Sleep disorders like sleep apnea
- PTSD (“post-traumatic stress disorder”)
Certain factors can also make you more likely to experience sleep paralysis. Some of the factors include:
- Ppoor sleep hygiene
- Not getting enough quality sleep
- And a disrupted sleep schedule
For those who experience sleep apnea regularly, it’s important to talk with a sleep specialist. They can help diagnose your sleep issues and provide you with helpful treatment options. Sleep is integral to your overall physical and mental well-being, so it’s important to address your sleep-related issues as soon as possible.
Sleep Institute in New York
If you struggle with nightmares, sleep paralysis, or any other sleep-related issues, contact Sleep MD. A sleep specialist can help provide you with support and solutions to getting a good night’s rest. It’s important to take the time to talk with a medical professional to ensure you stay healthy and have quality sleep. Dr. Mayank Shukla is a sleep doctor with over fifteen years of experience working with patients who have had issues with their sleep. Dr. Shukla and his team at the Sleep Institute in New York focus on getting patients back to their full potential. If you are experiencing issues with your sleep or having issues with sleep paralysis or nightmares, schedule an appointment with Dr. Shukla and his team today!