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Reasons, causes and prevention of sleep paralysis

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Pediatrician, Infectious Diseases
Practicing since : 2005
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Please explain sleep paralysis. The reason, cause and prevention for the same.
Posted Tue, 22 May 2012 in Sleep Disorders
Answered by Dr. Hema Yadav 6 hours later
Thanks for posting your query.
Sleep paralysis is a condition which prevents you from moving or speaking while waking up and sometimes while falling asleep. Sleep paralysis usually goes away within a few minutes.
Sleep researchers conclude that, in most cases, sleep paralysis is simply a sign that your body is not moving smoothly through the stages of sleep. Rarely is sleep paralysis linked to XXXXXXX underlying psychiatric problems.
It may occur in healthy persons or may be associated with narcolepsy, cataplexy, and hypnagogic hallucinations, migraine etc. The pathophysiology of this condition is closely related to the normal hypotonia(muscle relaxation) that occurs during REM sleep(a phase of sleep)
Sleep paralysis usually occurs at one of two times. If it occurs while you are falling asleep, it's called hypnagogic or predormital sleep paralysis. If it happens as you are waking up, it's called hypnopompic or postdormital sleep paralysis.
During sleep, your body alternates between REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep. One cycle of REM and NREM sleep lasts about 90 minutes. NREM sleep occurs first and takes up to 75% of your overall sleep time. During NREM sleep, your body relaxes and restores itself. At the end of NREM, your sleep shifts to REM. Your eyes move quickly and dreams occur, but the rest of your body remains very relaxed. Your muscles are "turned off" during REM sleep. If you become aware before the REM cycle has finished, you may notice that you cannot move or speak.
Sleep paralysis may run in families. Other factors that may be linked to sleep paralysis include:
a lack of sleep
a sleep schedule that changes
mental conditions such as stress or bipolar disorder
sleeping on the back
other sleep problems such as narcolepsy or nighttime leg cramps
use of certain medications
substance abuse

Treatment &Prevention:
Most people need no treatment for sleep paralysis. Treating any underlying conditions such as narcolepsy may help if you are anxious or unable to sleep well. These treatments may include the following:
1.improving sleep habits -- such as making sure you get six to eight hours of sleep each night
2.using antidepressant medication to help regulate sleep cycles
3.Treating any mental health problems that may contribute to sleep paralysis
4.Treating any other sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy or leg cramps

If you have occasional sleep paralysis, you can take steps at home to control this disorder. Start by making sure you get enough sleep. Do what you can to relieve stress in your life -- especially just before bedtime. Try new sleeping positions if you sleep on your back. And be sure to see your doctor if sleep paralysis routinely prevents you from getting a good night's sleep.
Hope I have answered your query.

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