What is Sleep Paralysis?Kati Morton
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- 3 months ago
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Sleep paralysis falls under the blanket term of “REM parasomnias.” The term parasomnia is defined by the Cleveland Clinic as: “disruptive sleep disorders that can occur during arousals from rapid eye movement (REM) sleep or arousals from non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. They can result in undesirable physical or verbal behaviors, such as walking or talking during sleep. Parasomnias occur in association with sleep, specific stages of sleep, or sleep-wake transitions. These parasomnias can be disruptive to both the patient and the bed partner.”
Because our mind isn’t really awake (coming out of a deep sleep) many people report seeing or feeling things when they wake that scare them, and that’s when they realize they can’t move. This only makes the sleep paralysis more scary, but know that it’s just your brain trying to wake up. It’s not completely aware of its surroundings and is trying to make sense of everything as quickly as possible. So know that you are not psychotic or having a psychotic break, your brain is simply trying to wake up.
After much research they have concluded that sleep paralysis is merely a sign that our body is not moving smoothly through the sleep cycles. They do not link sleep paralysis to mental illness, but we do know that stress and changes in our sleep patterns can exacerbate (but not cause) it.
We can have sleep paralysis in conjunction with another sleep disorder or it can occur on it’s own. So if you are having issues with your sleep, please reach out to a sleep specialist in your area. Even when I was looking through the DSM to make sure sleep paralysis wasn’t in there, there was a whole section dedicated to letting mental health professionals know that a referral to a sleep specialist should always be considered. Also, know that I was not trained on these issues AT ALL in school. I only tell you that to make sure that you get the right help if you need it. Not all mental health professionals will be equipped to help.
TREATMENT: 1. We need to keep track of our sleep for a few weeks. 2. Write down all of the symptoms you experience 3. Get your sleep back into a more regular routine. Move your bedtime closer to where you want it to be 15-30 mins at a time. Do the same with your wakeup time. Until you get it into a more desirable schedule. Then do your best to keep it there. Having a regular sleep and wake schedule will help tremendously 4. Reduce your stress - we know that stress can exacerbate sleep paralysis, also doing hard work in therapy can make our sleep wake schedules veer off course (especially trauma work). So using some simple breathing techniques before bed (like 4x4 breathing) can help. Also, doing some simple stretches like: forward bend, child’s pose, plow pose and supine spinal twist - can all help your nervous system calm down and relax before bed. Also journaling when you get home from work instead of right before bed could help.
Breathing technique video: https://youtu.be/Apkg1cKDyyA
Yoga stretches video: https://youtu.be/Rtcs1j47XbA
My video on sleep: https://youtu.be/5B7tw2e89MQ
I'm so excited for this movie... you? https://youtu.be/n5LoVcVsiSQ
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