Sleep paralysis is, for many, a condition that is quite literally a nightmare. However, for these unpleasant to terrifying episodes, you are awake and unable to move. While it usually is not a sign of serious illness, those who suffer from it can attest to how negative it can feel.
At our sleep clinics in NYC, we are dedicated to helping patients overcome any sleep-related concerns. With our expertise and experience, we work towards equipping our patients with the knowledge and tools they need to achieve better sleep.
Sleep paralysis was once thought to be caused by spirits. Now, we have a much better understanding of both the world and our own bodies. Science has uncovered that sleep paralysis has a rather simple explanation: you are not moving properly through your stages of sleep.
At the deepest point of your sleep, your brain turns off your muscles while you dream. Sleep paralysis is simply what happens when your brain wakes up before it wakes your muscles back up.
Though the explanation is straightforward, the experience can differ greatly from patient to patient. At Sleep MD NYC, we are dedicated to finding the root cause of your sleep paralysis and providing a treatment plan that will address it.
Every night, your mind naturally passed through four stages of sleep. Each serves its own purpose, and your mind behaves a little differently in each stage.
This starts as soon as you fall asleep. It is a light sleep that typically lasts less than ten minutes.
Then you move into this stage for half an hour to an hour. Your muscles relax, and brain activity begins to be slow-wave.
Next up, your delta brain activity increases for about 20-40 minutes. This is a deeper sleep, but you may exhibit some body movements.
Now you are deep in sleep, and this is where you begin to dream. But, your brain paralyzes your muscles; otherwise, your body would be flailing about while you dreamed.
Technically, every person experiences paralysis at several points throughout the night. The difference is, most people move regularly through the stages of sleep. That means by the time they wake up, their brain has already switched their muscles back on.
Even when awakened in the middle of REM sleep, the brain snaps your muscles back to attention. For people living with sleep paralysis, it is a different story.
When someone with sleep paralysis awakens, it could take up to a couple minutes for them to regain control over their muscles. During this time
They can experience strong sensations of terror and even visual-auditory hallucinations.
- Inconsistent sleep schedule (working irregular hours or alternating night shifts)
- Insufficient sleep (both quantity and quality)
- Sleeping on your back
- Medications, especially ones for ADHD
- Substance usage (alcohol, some illegal narcotics)
- Bipolar disorder
- Other sleep disorders
The decision to treat sleep paralysis is often up to the patient. For many, the symptoms occur seldom enough that patients might not seek treatment.
Instead, they may simply make lifestyle changes that allow them to have better rest.
However, for other patients, the symptoms can be so severe that it begins to affect their life significantly. Unfortunately, there is no single cure for sleep paralysis, but there are several ways to address it, depending on its cause.
Dr. Shukla can help patients learn about ways they can improve their sleeping habits. For many, this is enough to solve the issue. Receiving regular and healthy amounts of sleep can benefit patients in other areas of life as well.
Psychiatric patients are among the most vulnerable to experience sleep paralysis. By working toward mental health, you are also moving toward healthier sleep.
If you experience narcolepsy or other sleep disorders, then you are at a higher risk of sleep paralysis. With Dr. Shukla’s help, you can address these other issues, thereby treating this condition at the same time.
Occasionally, antidepressants might be prescribed to help regular your sleep schedule. However, the effectiveness of such drugs varies widely from patient to patient.
While the final choice is up to you, below are some recommendations. If you are experiencing any of these, then we may recommend seeking treatment with a sleep specialist.
- Your symptoms are a source of anxiety
- You feel fatigued during the day because of your symptoms
- Your symptoms are interfering with your sleep patterns.
Even though sleep paralysis itself is not dangerous, it can have a severe impact on your life. If left untreated, the byproducts of it can become dangerous. Fatigue can lead to decreased performance and alertness while working or driving. Poor sleep can affect your mood and even contribute to depression. Schedule a consultation today to take back control over your sleep.
Dr. Shukla is an experienced sleep specialist who has helped countless patients regain the chance for a full night’s rest. With his skill and knowledge, he can help you get back on your feet and get the rest you need and deserve.