Sleep Paralysis

Have you ever experienced waking up from being asleep and feeling conscious but completely unable to move or speak.  This may be accompanied by a feeling of sheer terror.  I myself have experienced this and know how disturbing it can feel!  I remembering experiencing it a few times when I was severely sleep deprived after having my first child and my sleep schedule was all over the place.

I thought it would be useful to write about the subject of sleep paralysis as I want to reassure you that although it can be distressing, it is harmless and most people will experience this at some point in their life.

What is Sleep Paralysis

Sleep Paralysis is caused by a disruption in the normal sleep cycle. During sleep, the brain goes through several stages, including rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep. During REM sleep, the body is normally paralysed to prevent acting out dreams.  However, during sleep paralysis, the person is partially awake and aware while their body is still in this paralysed state.

It can occur usually at one of two times.  If you experience this whist falling asleep, this is called hypnagogic sleep paralysis.  If it happens whilst you are waking up, it is called hypnopompic sleep paralysis.

Factors That Can Be Linked To Sleep Paralysis

Research has indicated that it is not completely clear why we may experience sleep paralysis but it has been linked with the following…
  • Disrupted sleep patterns: Napping in the day for too long, shift work or jet lag.
  • Sleep deprivation: lack of sleep or poor sleep quality can also disrupt the natural sleep cycle and increase the risk of sleep paralysis.
  • Mental health problems such as stress and anxiety.
  • Sleeping on your back.
  • Substance abuse.
  • A family history of sleep paralysis.
  • Other sleep problems such as narcolepsy or sleep apnoea.

What Can You Do  About Sleep Paralysis

Most people do not need to treat sleep paralysis however, there are things you can do to help prevent it such as improving your sleep habits and aiming to get 7-9 hours of sleep a night.  Having a consistent bed time and wake time and engaging in regular exercise can also help.

How Can Hypnotherapy Help With Sleep Paralysis

Hypnotherapy can be helpful in treating sleep paralysis, as it can help address underlying psychological factors that may be contributing to the condition. During hypnotherapy sessions, I can work with you to identify any sources of stress, anxiety, or other emotional issues that may be exacerbating sleep paralysis.

Additionally, hypnotherapy can also be used to help you relax and feel more comfortable before going to bed, which may reduce the likelihood of experiencing sleep paralysis. This can include techniques such as guided relaxation, muscle relaxation, visualisation, and helping to get you into a positive mindset.

Individuals who experience frequent or severe sleep paralysis should speak with a healthcare professional to rule out any underlying medical conditions.