A good night’s sleep is essential to keep you energized and positive for the next day. An adequate amount is said to be 6-8 hours for adults.
Unfortunately, sometimes that doesn’t happen, and most people suffer from many sleep-related diseases such as sleep apnea or insomnia. But have you ever heard of sleep paralysis?
What is sleep paralysis?
Sleep paralysis means literally what it is: To be unable to move while in a dream. Imagine waking up in your own bedroom in the middle of the night, like how it normally happens at times.
But the problem is: You can’t move at all!
Not only can’t you move, but you also feel like a dark figure is coming towards you, as if it were someone about to kill you as you try to run away. It comes nearer, your worst nightmare apparently coming to life.
After that, it’s over. You are now truly awake and in a panic over what just happened, trying to go back to sleep. And that is sleep paralysis.
What happens during sleep paralysis?
When there is a dark presence in your room, you may think it’s the devil or an evil entity. But this is just a short circuit in the brain, where your brain lights up and detects a threat when there is nothing at all.
The disability to breathe is most likely because of your sluggish muscles. You are able to breathe, but you only feel like you are unable to, which adds to the terrified feeling.
People who have experienced sleep paralysis report that they see many strange and scary things. The hallucinations are part of your dream (or nightmare), as your brain is still in a state of dreaming.
Why does sleep paralysis happen?
Your body is unable to move when in deep sleep and sleep paralysis usually happens when your mind and body do not wake up at the same time.
Don’t worry, it’s harmless and you aren’t alone. But it doesn’t mean you would want this to happen every night!
How do you prevent sleep paralysis from happening?
Thousands of people suffer from this type of dream, and fortunately you can prevent it from happening to you.
Here are some ways to avoid sleep paralysis:
1. Get yourself checked
Rule out any medical conditions that may cause your sleep paralysis. It may be a symptom of another illness such as insomnia. Medicine may be prescribed for you to prevent it from happening again.
2. Get the proper amount of sleep
This is one of the most important things to do, whether you’re preventing sleep paralysis or any other sleep-related illnesses. Make sure you get the recommended amount of sleep, which is 6-8 hours for adults.
Depriving yourself of sleep gives you more of a chance to experience sleep paralysis as the REM is hit when getting less than 6 hours of sleep a night.
3. Have a good sleeping schedule
Having a sleeping schedule and sticking to it will encourage you to sleep better without waking up in the middle of the night or having nightmares.
Your stress levels will decrease, your body will get used to the time, and you’ll be able to avoid sleep paralysis.
4. Do not sleep on your back, go sleep on your side
Studies show that people who sleep on their back suffer from sleep paralysis more often than people who sleep on their side.
You can avoid sleeping on your back by having a tennis ball in your pajama pocket to prevent yourself from the supine position.
5. Avoid heavy meals or alcoholic drinks before sleeping
Both of these may encourage you to sleep faster, but this is also a surefire way to disrupt your sleep, making you wake up in the middle of the night and increasing the chances of sleep paralysis of happening to you.
Make sure you eat a light dinner before you sleep to avoid hunger pangs at night, and stick with less alcohol until you are used to none if you are unable to stop the nightcaps.
6. Drink tea or warm milk before sleeping
These help relax your muscles and mind, making you fall asleep better than alcohol. The tea helps soothe your body, while milk or any form of dairy increases melatonin levels, giving you a good night’s sleep.
7. Turn off mobile devices and relax
Stress is also one of the reasons why you may be experiencing sleep paralysis. You can avoid stress during the night by turning off your phone and focusing on sleeping, as it may be a trigger to stressful moments looking at your emails.
Allot time during the day to check your emails and get your work done before you start to sleep to avoid working your mind in the bedroom.
Great ways to relax before sleeping would be playing soothing music, having a nice bubble bath, or even meditating/light yoga and exercise to wind you down.
Make sure you’re comfortable before you sleep, with pillows propped up, your room in good temperature, and your room dark and easy to fall asleep into. Avoid loud noises or triggers that may cause sleep disruption or difficulty to fall asleep.
8. Avoid caffeine
Caffeine is best known to keep you alert throughout the day, which obviously will disrupt your sleep or give you a hard time sleeping during the night.
Try removing it from your daily diet or lessening the caffeine consumption to avoid lack of sleep.
9. Keep a dream journal
Writing about your experiences with sleep paralysis may help you gain closure and make you figure out why you have it in the first place. It may be a psychological factor, or may happen in certain times (during menstrual period, seasonal, after certain events, etc).
Keeping a journal may help you know why and when this happens, so you’ll be able to prevent it from happening. Keep a journal beside your bed and write everything down once you wake up while it’s still fresh in your memory.