Sleep paralysis is the state where a person is unable to speak or move when awakening or falling asleep. During the episode, the affected individual may feel, hear, or see things that are not apparently visible. This often results in fear and panic. These episodes usually last less than a few minutes. In some individuals, it may be recurrent or only occur as a single episode. Sleep paralysis can occur in those who are normal under certain conditions. It is believed that there may be genetic factors as well as it may run in families. The underlying mechanism of sleep paralysis is thought to be due to a dysfunction in the rapid eye movement phase during sleep. The diagnosis of sleep paralysis can be made based on the patient’s symptoms and descriptions. The treatment options have been poorly studied.
The recommendation for treatment and management of sleep paralysis includes reassurance that the condition is fairly common and not serious, improving sleep hygiene, use of antidepressants, and cognitive behavioral therapy. About 8 to 50 percent of individuals experience sleep paralysis at some point in life while 5 percent go through regular episodes. Sleep paralysis has always been present throughout history with descriptions of it believed to be due to paranormal events, alien abductions, and more.
Sleep Paralysis Associated Condition #1: Narcolepsy
Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder where there is a lower ability to regulate the normal sleep wake cycle. This causes affected individuals to experience excessive daytime sleepiness. 70 percent of patients who have narcolepsy experience loss of muscle strength during their episodes.
These episodes can occur when the individual experiences strong emotions. There may also be instances where those affected experience vivid hallucinations or the inability to move while waking up or falling asleep. This is known as sleep paralysis.