Sleep Paralysis


What is sleep paralysis?

Sleep paralysis consists of a period of inability to perform voluntary movements either at sleep onset (hypnogogic or predormital form) or upon awakening (hypnopompic or postdormtal form).

What are the symptoms?

  • Inability to move the trunk or limbs at sleep onset or upon awakening
  • Presence of brief episodes of partial or complete skeletal muscle paralysis
  • Most occurrences are when sleeping on your back


Is Sleep Paralysis harmful?

There is no known explanation why some people experience this paralysis. It is not harmful, although most people report feeling very afraid because they do not know what is happening, and within minutes they gradually or abruptly are able to move again; the episode is often terminated by a sound or a touch on the body.

In some cases, when hypnogogic hallucinations are present, people feel that someone is in the room with them; some experience the feeling that someone or something is sitting on their chest and they feel impending death and suffocation. The “Hag Phenomena” has been happening to people over the centuries. While people experience anxiety and terror, there is no physical harm.

What else can you tell me about sleep paralysis?

  • A study found that 35% of subjects with isolated sleep paralysis also reported a history of wake panic attacks unrelated to the experience of paralysis
  • Sixteen percent of these persons with isolated sleep paralysis met the criteria for panic disorder

How can I stop the sleep paralysis?

  • getting enough sleep – get at least six to eight hours of sleep per night
  • reduce stress
  • exercise regularly (but not too close to bedtime)
  • keep a regular sleep schedule

Severe cases of Sleep Paralysis should be discussed with your physician as they may refer to more in depth problems, possibly related to:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Change in medication
  • Use of antidepressants

 In summary; sleep well, avoid sleeping on your back and reduce stress to a minimum – including, disagreements BEFORE you go to bed.

Sleep Hygiene


Good restful sleep starts with good sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene refers to sleep habits and conditions which promote sleep. Sleep hygiene should be your first line attack against insomnia or other types of sleep disorders. This is used in conjunction with stimulus control and cognitive behaviour restructuring. Review your sleeping habits and make positive changes in your routine and environmental changes to improve sleep.

Here are some good sleep hygiene practices:

 

  • Established a regular time for going to sleep and getting up in the morning. Once you have established the routine, stick to it regardless on weekends and during vacations.
  • Associate the bed with sleep and sex only. Do not make it a habit to read, watch television or work on the bed. Excessive time in bed can fragment sleep.
  • Avoid naps, especially in the evening.
  • Exercise before dinner. A low point in energy occurs a few hours after exercise; sleep will then come more easily. Exercising close to bedtime, however, may increase alertness.
  • Take a warm bath about an hour to two hours before bedtime. This will alter the body’s core temperature rhythm and helps people to fall asleep easily. However, taking a bath just before bedtime will increase alertness.
  • Keep to relaxing and calming activities an hour before bedtime. Reading, meditating and taking a leisurely walk are appropriate.
  • Keep the bedroom comfortable, quiet, cool and well ventilated.
  • Do not look at the clock. Do not get obsessed with time, it will only make going to sleep more difficult.
  • Eat light meals and schedule dinner 4 to 5 hours before bedtime. A light snack before bedtime can help sleep or large meal do not.
  • Make it a point to spend at least half an hour in the sun each day. The best time is early in the morning. Wear protective clothing and sunscreen if necessary.
  • Avoid fluids before bedtime as the need to urinate will disrupt your sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine or other stimulants before bedtime. The rule of the thumb is not to consume anything which might affect your sleep 6 hours before your bed time.
  • Don’t drink alcohol before your bedtime.
  • If you still awake after 15-20 minutes, go to another room, spend some time to read or do some quiet activity in dim light until you feel sleepy. Avoid bright lights or watching television.
  • Give yourself a quiet time right before bed. One or two hours before you retire, take a few moments to spend quietly relaxing and meditating.
  • If distracted by a sleeping bed partner, moving to the couch or a spare bed for a couple of nights might be helpful.

For women it is also important to remove make-up before going to bed. As well as making your face feel heavy and unfresh, make-up will prevent your skin from being able to breath propery. Leaving make up on over night will also caused pores to become blocked and contribute to blackheads and acne. A cleansing routine before going to bed is to remove make-up with a make-up removing product. Have a bath. Wash the face using facial cleanser. Put on a thin layer of moisturizing cream and have a warm drink. Getting the right products for your skin-type is essential. Visit Blackhead Expert for a nice guide on skincare products and rountine.

Sleep hygiene is just one of the behavioral techniques you can use to help with your sleep disorder.

Poor sleep health

Sleep disorder can caused by a variety of factors depending on the type of disorder. It is important to find out the root cause of the sleep disorder in order to find the right treatment. One of the major cause of sleep disorder is anxiety. Generally, the feeling of anxiety is typically manifested as fear, worry and nervousness. Anxiety often accompanied by physical sensations such as chest pain, nausea, heart palpitations, breathlessness, stomaches and headaches. Emotionally, anxiety often cause a sense of dread and panic. Externally, the signs of anxiety includes pale skin, sweating, trembling. To overcome anxiety insomnia, learning how to relax physically and mentally can help you fall asleep more quickly. It is helpful to learn relaxation techniques which can help you get back to sleep when you wake up in the middle of the night.

Another common insomnia cause is disruption of the body’s circadian rhythm such as in the case of night shift workers. One study has found that 53% of night shift workers fall asleep on the job at least once a week, which implies that their body internal clock cannot adjust to the unusual working times. Unfortunately for the night shift workers, they at a higher risk of health problems and mobile accidents due to drowsiness. Another study conducted in Japan shows that excessive computer work is associated with various forms of insomnia. People who are over involved in their work tend to have trouble sleeping and tend to wake up earlier than usual.

More women tend to suffer from sleep disorder then men, especially insomnia. One of the main reason is the fluctuating female hormones. The female hormone progesterone promotes sleep. The level of this hormone decrease during menstruation, thus causing insomnia. On the other hand, this hormone will increase during ovulation and women may become sleepier than usual. During pregnancy, the vary levels of progesterone hormone in the first and third trimester disrupt normal sleep patterns.

Another possible cause for sleep disorder is due to external factors such as light, noise and uncomfortable temperatures. Depending on the time, too much light or too little can disrupt sleep. Insufficient exposure to light during the day, as occurs in some disabled elderly patients who rarely venture outside, may also be linked with sleep disturbances. One study suggests that when a person is exposed to bright daylight, melatonin levels increases in response to darkness at night, which aids sleep.

Sleep disorder can be a side effect of many common medications, including over-the-counter preparations that contain caffeine. People who suspect their medications are causing them to lose sleep should check with a physician or pharmacist. When people are in pain or sick, they general have medication to help them through the uncomfortable symptoms. Unfortunately, many of these medicines can also cause insomnia to onset or worsen.

Pain and discomfort from an injury, illness, or disability can cause sleep impairment. Among the many medical problems that can cause insomnia are: allergies, arthritis, cancer, heart disease, gastro reflux disease, hypertension, asthma, hyperthyroidism, Wilson’s syndrome and ADHD.

Around 10% to 15% of the chronic insomnia cases are caused by substance abuse such as alcohol, drugs and sedatives. The occasional one or two alcoholic drinks after dinner may help to reduce stress and initiate sleep for some people. Excessive alcohol consumption especially can cause fragmented sleep and cause wakefulness during sleep. Substance abuse can also increase the risk of developing other sleep disorder such as sleep apnea and restlessleg syndrome.

Another common sleep disorder cause is disruption of the body’s circadian rhythm such as in the case of night shift workers. One study has found that 53% of night shift workers fall asleep on the job at least once a week, which implies that their body internal clock cannot adjust to the unusual working times. Unfortunately for the night shift workers, they at a higher risk of health problems and mobile accidents due to drowsiness. Another study conducted in Japan shows that excessive computer work is associated with various forms of insomnia. People who are over involved in their work tend to have trouble sleeping and tend to wake up earlier than usual. Stress hormone, especially cortisol, is found to be the key contributing factor in many chronic sleep disorder cases. High level of cortisols reduces REM sleep. Persistently high levels of stress hormones, particularly cortisol, may be key factors in many cases of chronic sleep disorder, particularly related to aging and psychiatric disorders. High levels of cortisol reduce REM sleep. Abnormal levels of other biologic factors may also a play a role in specific situations

Older people usually experience a higher chances of suffering from sleep disorder due to an imbalance of a particular hormone associated with sleep. This type of hormone is normally secreted in the late night and associate with deep short wave sleep. Older people generally have less short wave sleep. Melatonin levels are lower in elderly people. Some studies suggest this is due to older people tend to stay indoors more and get less sunlight.