We have all experienced a nightmare at least once in our life. Sometimes dreams seem so real that you wake up in sweat!
Experiencing sleep paralysis can be even worse than having a nightmare. Sleep paralysis is the feeling of been conscious but unable to move.
Sleep paralysis happens when a person passes between stages of wakefulness and sleep, typically as they are falling asleep or as they wake up. During these transitions, you may be unable to move or speak for a few seconds up to a few minutes. Some people may also feel pressure or a sense of choking. In worst cases in can be accompanied by hallucinations like feelings that you are seeing something moving towards you like monster or simply a shadow.
Dr. Michael J. Breus explains that, during rapid eye movement (REM), the body goes into a state of paralysis known as REM atonia. It is a normal part of the sleep stage, when major muscle groups and most voluntary muscles are paralyzed. REM is a sleep stage when much active dreaming occurs. Without the paralyzing effects of REM atonia, we might act out physically in response to our dreams.
In certain sleep disorders, including REM Behavior Disorder, the normal paralysis of REM sleep doesn’t work as it should, and people act out physically — sometimes aggressively and violently — in sleep.
This kind of disorder can be caused by: Lack of sleep, Genetic factors, High stress or anxiety, Sleep schedule that changes, Mental conditions such as bipolar disorder, Sleeping on your back, Other sleep problems such as narcolepsy or nighttime leg cramps, Use of certain medications, such as those for ADHD, Substance abuse
Although Sleep paralysis makes you feel helpless, there are a few things you can do to deal with it.
Relax –If you are experiencing sleep paralysis the best thing to do is stay calm and relax Fighting back can cause more distress and it may even increase the feelings of being held down, as well as heighten your fear. Just breathe deeply and remind yourself that you’re okay and you’ll be fine.
Try to Move – trying to consciously clench your fists or wiggle your toes may be enough to wake you up and get you out of sleep paralysis. Most of the feeling of tightness and paralysis occurs in your belly, chest and throat, so you should have more control over your extremities.
Wake Yourself Up – Once you shake off sleep paralysis, go to the bathroom and splash some cold water on your face. If you stay in bed, your chances of slipping back into sleep paralysis are very high. Instead, wake yourself up and slowly begin to lull yourself back to sleep.