The transient or momentary inability to speak or move your limbs and body, even though you are awake, is sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis can be a symptom of Narcolepsy and other disorders. Sleep paralysis often occurs at that time when you are about to fall asleep (Hypnagogic state) or sometimes at the time of waking up from sleep (Hynopompic state).
Individuals may be prone to sleep paralysis more when their normal sleeping pattern gets disturbed, or they get stressed out. People who experience jet lag may also be more prone to sleep paralysis. Sometimes a change in medications, or use of alcohol could make some people subject to sleep paralysis.
While we are sleeping, our muscles become paralyzed so we don’t make physical movements in our dream state. In sleep paralysis our muscles remain paralyzed as though we are still in our dream state, yet we are in the waking state. Many people who experience sleep paralysis are able to move their eyes and look around, but cannot move their body.
How you sleep may influence the symptoms of sleep paralysis
Individuals who lie on their backs may be more prone to experience sleep paralysis. In this altered sleep/waking state, some people experience visual and/or auditory hallucinations. My daughter occasionally has sleep paralysis; she takes lots of medications, which may be the reason she gets this sleep disorder. She talks about seeing “shadow people” by her bed when she is in that state just as she is waking up. She reports to me that she sometimes sees and feels one of these figures put their hand out to touch her. Every time she has an episode like that she tells me how scary it feels for her.
I have experienced the hypnagogic state many times. It’s a dream-like state and I see everything in black and gray. I don’t hear anything, but I always see a group of people who are animatedly talking to one another. I watch the people and try to read their lips, but never can quite do it. I am not moving during that time, so I don’t know if I am paralyzed or not. What I experience isn’t frightening at all; therefore, I don’t know if I am experiencing anything similar to what my daughter does. What she experiences is in her waking from sleep state.
Once Sleep Paralysis occurs, it can last for a few minutes. Having a routine bedtime and getting enough sleep can help manage this sleep disorder. If more help is needed, some antidepressants can help to bring about normal sleep and waking patterns. There is no treatment to actually cure Sleep paralysis; medications would be given to treat the symptoms.
Self-help to treat sleep paralysis
When the body can reestablish normal REM sleep patterns, the body and brain connection may get into sync to eliminate sleep paralysis. Smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and ingesting caffeine before going to bed could induce sleep paralysis in some people. For these people, just stopping these things could be enough to help straighten out their sleep patterns.
Medications that may treat the symptoms of sleep paralysis
If you have sleep paralysis, your doctor might prescribe some medications like Ritalin or Clonazepam (Klonopin) can help to regulate your sleep cycles. It is important to monitor your sleep patterns and report future occurrences to your doctor. Your doctor may have another medication and/or strategy to try. As with most other health conditions, lifestyle is often a key component to righting whatever is wrong. A healthy diet and healthy habits may be able to correct sleeping and waking patterns in some people.
Personal experience with my daughter