What is sleep paralysis? As astonishing as it may seem, not many understand what sleep paralysis is and if they have ever experienced it. But studies show that an individual will have at least one to two episodes of sleep paralysis throughout their lifetime. It is a condition under parasomnia, which includes a number ofsleep disorders that disrupt and reduce the quality of sleep that one may have. It is usually a condition that mostly affects children and in most cases stop as you transition into adulthood. However, for some it is the exact opposite as the effects of parasomnia which include insomnia, sleep paralysis, sleep bruxism (clenching or grinding of teeth when asleep), sleepwalking and such get worse with time.
What people don’t know is that it is completely treatable if provided with the right tools. Sleep paralysis is one such form of parasomnia. During a sleep paralysis episode what happens is that the mind is awake and subconscious whereas your body is unable to move or is in a state of paralysis. This can last from seconds to minutes and in rare cases an hour. During sleep paralysis a person may experience several sensory, auditory and visual hallucinations which affect the mind and causes distress. It can be a cause of underlying medical concerns like depression, anxiety, PTSD and such.
Many people have explained their sleep paralysis episodes to be very vivid and startle the mind and body. They have difficulty talking or moving even when they are conscious in their dreams. There builds a pressure on the chest and you may even experience difficulty in breathing. What people fail to understand is that if this is recurring in a persons like it adds to a lot of stress and reduces the quality of life. Sleep is very important, it is when you are asleep that the body and the mind rest and heal. However, if you are unable to have a healthy sleeping schedule it affects other aspects of your life too.
It is said that this condition mostly affects women more than men and can be a result of many factors environmental as well as medical. It could be related to stress, anxiety, insomnia and even substance abuse. The most important thing to remember is to try and get enough sleep. A person with an unhealthy sleep schedule can have an unhealthy way of life as well. They might tend to get irritable with small things, they can get detached from themselves as well as the rest of the world. In addition to that even medically a person can suffer from hypertension, diabetes, an increased risk of a heart attack or heart failure. Your entire immune system fluctuates and it increases a lot of respiratory problems.
Similarly sleep paralysis can affect the sleeping habits of a person if not addressed properly depending on the severity of the problem. An individual must have at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep. You can address sleeping issues by cultivating a healthy sleep schedule, by fixing a time to go to bed everyday, stay away from electronic gadgets, meditation before sleep or even reading will ease the body and prepare the body and mind to fall asleep. Steer clear from caffeine right before bed, and building a daily routine and exercising regularly will also tire the body and help in falling asleep faster. If the condition cannot in any case be managed by yourself then it is always better to get professional help from doctors.
This particular topic has yet to gain the social recognition and understanding that it deserves. Through time and history as many people have suffered from it, unable to understand what it is and how it works, they have turned to religious and traditional priests to get rid of the condition. And even given various names with respect to each geographic and cultural dispositions. Even now there is very limited information regarding sleep paralysis and other sleep disorders therefore, it is important that people are educated further and sensitised about the medical condition. It will reduce the risk of reducing and disrupting the quality of life and even reduce the chances of getting a chronic disease.
Amity University, Kolkata