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    What causes sleep paralysis?

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Posted on Mon, 24 Jul 2017 in Brain and Spine
Question: nt wife, 77 years old, just had a sleep paralysis incident that lasted about 20 minutes. this is the 1st one in almost a year. she has had incidents before most of her life. she had 2 or 3 last year lasting only about 10 minutes or so ? she is up now, moving around, has been to the bathroom. is there anything else to help her now. her doctor knows about these incidents. the only thing different about today was she went to walmart and was there about 2 1/2 hours - about 1 hour was waiting on transportation back to our apt. YYYY@YYYY

her 1st incident was when she was 9 years old. there have been NO problems recently to cause stress related issues. she sleeps about 8 hours every night.

doctor
Answered by Dr. Antoneta Zotaj 4 hours later
Brief Answer:
Reassuring is most of the time enough- some other recommendations also

Detailed Answer:
Hello,
Thank you for asking at healthcaremagic.

I carefully read your question and understand your concern.

Sleep paralysis is a condition that might happen without a clear cause and most of the times it is only one or a few episodes but sometimes it might be more often as it is happening to your wife. They are related to REM phase of the sleep (Rapid Eye Movements happen during that time) and not always is possible to find a trigger for it.
It is generally not dangerous and will not hurt her health but can cause a lot of anxiety to the patient.

It seems you are doing the right things as you are trying to be close to her and reassure her. Most of the times this is the only thing that is needed. When patient realizes that she is safe it quiets her down and no other treatments are needed.

If the episodes are so often that they really affect the patient and make her be anxious before going to sleep that these might happen again than other treatments other than support might be needed.

There are relaxation techniques that have been tried to help and some patients find benefit with those. Psychoanalysis is also tried.
Also medications can be tried in case the episodes are often and causing anxiety. Amitriptyline is the one most commonly used.

So to conclude:
1. it is important for your wife to realize that they are not dangerous or going to affect her health
2. supporting and reassuring her is most of the times the only needed treatment
3. there are psychological treatments like relaxation techniques and psychoanalysis that are tried and help some of the patients
4. amitryptiline is a drug that is used when the above measures do not help.
5. If your wife has complaints when she is awake (outside of the sleep period) than she will need to be checked to confirm the diagnosis of sleep paralysis.

I hope this is helpful to you and answers to your question but please feel free to write me in case more clarification is needed on this.

Kind regards,

Antoneta Zotaj, MD
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Vaishalee Punj
doctor
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Follow up: Dr. Antoneta Zotaj 36 minutes later
Thank you, Dr. Zotaj !!!!!

I thank the Doctor for answering me. I was going to click on "rating" her but it "disappeared" before I could.

Dr. Zotaj, please accept this as my thanks !!!!!
doctor
Answered by Dr. Antoneta Zotaj 25 minutes later
Brief Answer:
It's a pleasure to be able to help

Detailed Answer:
Hello again,

I appreciate a lot your feedback. It is a pleasure to be able to help you.

Kind regards,

Antoneta Zotaj, MD
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Vaishalee Punj
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Answered by
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Dr. Antoneta Zotaj

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :2004

Answered : 4363 Questions

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