What Is Sleep Paralysis?

Here’s what you should know about sleep paralysis.

Just like the name suggests, sleep paralysis can be quite unnerving. After all, you are very much awake and aware of everything around you, except you can’t move. What typically happens is the person falls back to sleep or they regain the ability to move again. If you or someone you love is dealing with this sleep issue, we know it can be scary. Our Bradenton, FL, sleep medicine specialist Dr. Jeremy McConnell can provide you with the information you need to understand this condition and how to treat it.

What is sleep paralysis?
Sleep paralysis is a type of sleep disorder known as a parasomnia, which is impacted by rapid eye movement (REM). This condition occurs when a person experiences atonia (a loss of muscle control) while waking up or falling asleep. Some people with sleep paralysis also experience hallucinations during these periods of atonia.

Why does it happen?
While the cause of sleep paralysis is still not clear, there may be several factors involved in whether someone is at an increased risk for sleep paralysis. People with other sleep disorders, more specifically obstructive sleep apnea, were more likely to deal with sleep paralysis.

People with anxiety disorders, PTSD, or other mental health conditions were also more likely to deal with sleep paralysis, as well as those who stopped taking antidepressants or stopped consuming alcohol. If you have a family history of sleep paralysis, this may also mean that you’re more likely to deal with this sleep problem, as well.

Is sleep paralysis dangerous?
While certainly distressing, sleep paralysis is not a serious problem nor does it typically impact a person’s health. The majority of people with sleep paralysis experience periodic and very minor symptoms. The only potential concern is if a person with sleep paralysis develops anxiety around falling asleep, which causes insomnia or other sleep problems. This is where our Bradenton, FL, sleep doctors can help you figure out how to best treat your sleep problems.

How is sleep paralysis treated?
It’s important to talk with a sleep specialist to determine the best ways to treat your sleep paralysis. Creating good sleep hygiene is incredibly important and a fundamental part of treating sleep paralysis because it can improve the quality of your sleep and reduce the potential for sleep issues. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and even certain medications that suppress REM sleep may also improve sleep paralysis-related insomnia.

If you are experiencing symptoms of sleep paralysis or other signs of a sleep disorder, you must talk with a qualified sleep doctor her Bradenton, FL, who can prescribe a sleep study to diagnose and then treat the problem. To schedule an evaluation, call Florida Sleep Specialists today at (941) 792-8383.