What is sleep paralysis?

Sleep paralysis is the condition or phenomenon where the person may temporarily be unable to move upon falling asleep or waking up. It is similar to the condition of being paralysed. Experts say sleep paralysis is the transition state between being awake and loss of muscle control without being unconscious. Take a look how it occurs and what you can do to reduce the impact of symptoms.

Defining the phenomenon

Sleep paralysis is often associated with narcolepsy, anxiety disorders, migraines and sleep apnea. It is a symptom of narcolepsy, a sleep disorder where a person has recurring and uncontrollable episodes of sleep. Other symptoms of narcolepsy include muscle weakness, sleep paralysis and hallucinations.

  • - Is it dangerous?

Sleep paralysis might leave you feeling frightened because you are unable to move at all with the temporary paralysis. As you start to fall asleep or while waking up, you might experience a sudden episode of muscle weakness without losing your consciousness. This means you are fully aware of what is happening but just have no control of it. This episode is called cataplexy and is triggered by sudden emotions such as fear, joy, anger, laughter or surprise. In essence, cataplexy highly resembles muscle relaxation during REM sleep. You might feel limp and weak. Hallucinations might be experienced which are quite alarming.

However, there is no need to worry because sleep paralysis is a temporary state. The feel of another person’s touch will relieve the symptoms of paralysis. Otherwise, it resolves on its own in a few minutes. It simply means that your sleep is not going smoothly through the right stages. The good news is, there is no link or connection between sleep paralysis and psychiatric problems.

  • - When does it happen?

Sleep paralysis can happen while falling asleep and before waking up.

Diagnosis and treatment

Diagnosis of sleep paralysis depends on the symptoms. In this case, it is a symptom of a sleep disorder. Also, sleep paralysis and hallucinations can occur even in healthy adults. As a procedure, the doctor will conduct an EEG to record brain activity. Modafinil which is an anti-depressant drug might be administered because this drug will relieve symptoms of cataplexy.

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