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Sleep Paralysis

 
 
Reply Mon 25 Aug, 2008 12:10 am
I have this fairly regularly, but never knew it had a name until today. I always thought it was just a crazy recurring dream or something. The people I've explained it to apparently have never heard of it either.

Essentially, it's when your mind wakes up before your body does. Its a very freaky feeling, because it feels like you are trapped in your own body. Sometimes I just can't move my body, and I have to try to rock myself back and forth (even though I'm not actually moving at all). Eventually I "break free" and can then move completely.

More severely, I feel like I can't breath. Its like my nose is stuffed up, but I can't open my mouth to breathe through it. Then right as I start to panic about the situation, I will suddenly snap out of it, and can move/breathe freely again.

Anyways, anyone else have this? From what I've heard, causes are sleeping on your back, stress, and lack of sleep. I often sleep on my back, often don't get enough sleep, and often have at least a minor stress level (who doesn't). So yeah, I'm screwed. It really doesn't bother me though. It only happens once or twice a month, and there are no ill-effects.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 39 • Views: 39,083 • Replies: 57

 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Aug, 2008 12:15 am
@Nick Ashley,
I've experienced it, but only a couple of times.

You may want to have a sleep study; my recollection is that it is related to sleep apnia.

Your brain paralyzes your motor functions during dreaming, and sleep paralysis is when it doesn't stop before you wake up.



(My dad has the opposite problem; he'll jump up out of a dream and try to run across the room. He's gotten slight injuries from bumping into things, and once almost punched out his girlfriend.)
Nick Ashley
 
  2  
Reply Mon 25 Aug, 2008 12:22 am
Just noticed I wrote that it happens once or twice a month. That was supposed to read "Every month or 2" But now that I think about it, it probably isn't even that often. Its just so memorable that it seems more often than it really is.

Sleep study sounds like a lot of work, and I'm pretty lazy... Wink
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Aug, 2008 12:27 am
@Nick Ashley,
Nick Ashley wrote:
Sleep study sounds like a lot of work, and I'm pretty lazy... Wink

Yeah, but you get to do it in your sleep!
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Aug, 2008 12:28 am
@Nick Ashley,
Actually, I'd suggest you talk to your doc. Sleep apnia (which may or may not be related) can have some pretty far-reaching effects on your health.
0 Replies
 
hingehead
 
  2  
Reply Mon 25 Aug, 2008 12:53 am
@Nick Ashley,
I used to get it occasionally. It's a bizarre feeling. I've never had the breathing problem, just the paralysis, I felt like something was holding me down and I had the instinct to fight but nothing would move (arms or legs. or eyelids - so I couldn't see what it was).

Normally I can't sleep on my back (in fact if I want to stay awake in bed I'll lie on my back) - but now that you mention I definitely woke up on my back each time I experienced it.

I don't think it's sleep apnea - because generally sufferers aren't aware of the breathing difficulties.
DrewDad
 
  2  
Reply Mon 25 Aug, 2008 12:58 am
@hingehead,
hingehead wrote:
sleep apnea

Oh, sure. Show me the correct spelling after I can't edit anymore.....
Izzie
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Aug, 2008 12:59 am
@Nick Ashley,
Hey Nick.

Sounds to me like a panic attack sorta thing...

In our stressful lives, it should not be surprising that a good portion of us is sleeping less soundly than previous generations. Most of the time a lack of deep sleep is related to how we function during the daytime. For the majority of humanity the whole sleep and awake cycle is voluntary that is mostly defined by the clock and hence is of no major concern, which is simply how some people are. However, there are those in whom the balance is indeed a very delicate one. When this balance is upset there is a sudden onset of inability to sleep that, in the initial stages, manifest as a lack of restfulness after waking up. This problem can reach chronic proportions quickly. Most people who seek medical attention for this problem will complain of any of the following three symptoms. Insomnia, daytime drowsiness, and irregular sleep behavior. Insomnia is more common than the other two symptoms and it is estimated that more than 25% of people are affected with different stages of insomnia. According to studies, women, elderly people, and shift workers are the ones who report more cases of insomnia than other segments of the population. Certain mental disorders like depression also cause insomnia. Sleep panic attacks are quite common among people who do not get regular sleep.

More than half of the people diagnosed with panic disorder suffer from nocturnal or sleep panic attacks. Although only 10% of all panic attacks happen at night they are still an issue of concern. Sleep panic attacks are bad because the patients begin to fear the nighttime and especially going off to sleep. They fear that during the sleep panic attack they will be comatose and hence unable to do anything if they suffer something violent. The cardiac arrest like symptoms most prevalent during sleep panic attacks make these people afraid that they might die if they have an attack while they are asleep.

Sleep panic attacks are not caused by dreams. This is known because medical studies have shown that sleep panic attacks happen during the early stages of sleep and not the REM phase when dreams usually occur. There are other disorders that are far severe than insomnia and they will often resemble sleep panic attacks in their symptoms because the victim will often wake up with palpitations, fear, shortness of breath, sweating, and so on. This type of sleep disorder occurs during the deep sleep.

Sleep apnea also causes the patients to wake up suddenly and though this sort of thing is not associated with any anxiety there is evidence indirectly linking it with sleep panic attacks since sleep apnea affects heart rate and blood pressure.

The precise reason for sleep panic attacks is not yet known. It is suspected that possible causes might include a build up of carbon dioxide in the body, a condition that is known as "false suffocation alarm" that causes the body to respond by strenuous breathing and rapid heart rate.


and...

We know that most panic attacks are NOT caused by dreams. Records of sleep polysomnographia show a maximum of panic attacks during early sleep phase (phase II), not during the REM-phases associated with dreams. This is a major difference to nightmares! Nightmares happen during the second half of the night, so we are often able to remember the content of these dreams.

Pavor nocturnus is a very specific type of sleeping disorder, more common among children. It is defined by a sudden avakening with crying, strong anxiety symptoms and vegetative symptoms like heart palpitations, short breathening and sweating. This type of sleeping problems occur during deep phases of sleep (phase IV).

Arousals caused by sleep apnea syndromes are usually not characterized by extreme anxiety symptoms. But this sleep disorder might have an effect on the origin of panic attacks, because sleep apnea has an impact on heart frequency and blood pressure. Chronic arousal of anxiety during night could be a kind of dysfunctional protection against apnea during night.

The exact causes for panic attacks at night are not known. Other possible causes include an increase of CO2-concentration (False Suffocation alarm hypothesis) or changes of the parasympathotonic system due to autonomic dysfunction.



...

What is Sleep Paralysis or Isolated Sleep Paralysis?
(From "Relationship Between Isolated Sleep Paralysis and Geomagnetic Influences: A case study" -Perceptual and Motor Skills, 80, 1263-1273)

"The isolated sleep paralysis event occurs most often at sleep onset. An individual, even though aware and maintains that he is awake, is atonic, and has great difficulty moving. This atonic state is similar to the atonia experienced during REM sleep. This experience also may produce great anxiety and fear, while the individual struggles to "wake up".

Individuals who experience sleep paralysis often report concurrent hypnagogic hallucinations. A commonly reported hallucination is the feeling of a presence or entity in the room in which the individual sleeps. At times this presence may seem threatening and evil giving rise to the folklore belief of the "night-mare," the "old hag," and the "incubi" ".



maybe worth asking the doc tho Nick?

Hope you can sort it hun - sounds scary to go through that.


(nearly 8am here.... I haven't slept yet... it's cr*p having insomnia!!!)
0 Replies
 
hingehead
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Aug, 2008 01:05 am
@DrewDad,
DrewDad wrote:
Oh, sure. Show me the correct spelling after I can't edit anymore.....


I was going to send you a PM.... Wink
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Aug, 2008 03:20 am
@Nick Ashley,
I have had it ccasionally.....more commonly I experience the feeling of not being able to run etc in dreams, which I assume is because of the same semi-freezing the body does during sleep.

Must be awful when it's joined with hypnagogic hallucinations! Kids, especially, can get really freaked out by those.

The one that gets me is when you fall from a great height into your bed, as it were, which usually happens to me just after I have gone to sleep.
0 Replies
 
Derevon
 
  2  
Reply Mon 25 Aug, 2008 03:38 am
@Nick Ashley,
This phenomenon occurs to me also from time to time, but nowadays it's very rare, thankfully. After a while I got used to it, so it's not that frightening anymore. Also I learned to avoid it in most situations. Sleep paralysis for me was always preceded by some kind of cold, icy sensation across my spine, so eventually I learned to wake up quickly before this "ice grip from hell" (often accompanied by the sensation of a demonic presence) could seize me. Sometimes I can't react fast enough, but since it has happened so many times, I'm not really afraid of it anymore, even though it's still of course very unpleasant. In my opinion, the best thing to do when this occurs is to completely avoid struggling since in my experience, the harder I try to sit up in bed, the more stuck I get.

As for what can trigger this experience, I'm uncertain, but generally when it has happened to me it has been when I'm deviating a lot from my normal sleeping patterns, and always when this has happened, I've been lying on my back.
rosborne979
 
  2  
Reply Mon 25 Aug, 2008 05:40 am
@Nick Ashley,
I've had this happen before. It's pretty freaky. But you're not actually "awake and stuck in a sleeping body", you're really still asleep and dreaming that you are awake. That's why you will suddenly snap out of it if you get scared enough, the fear will break the dream and you will wake up for real; paralysis gone.
alex240101
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Aug, 2008 06:41 am
@Nick Ashley,
I know someone who attributes their 'sleep paralysis" to sleeping on their back. Their partner, if awake, tells sleep paralysis person, to roll over. Semi conscience sleep paralysis person rolls over onto side, and paralysis doesn't occur.
0 Replies
 
mac11
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Aug, 2008 09:02 am
I've had this happen, but not in years. It was definitely stress-related for me.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Aug, 2008 09:09 am
Hmmm...so all these demons come from hypnagogic hallucinations and such?

What did we hallucinate before we invented demons...(not that I've ever hallucinated a demon, or a damned alien abduction, which seems to have replaced demons as the dread du night for many these days)?
0 Replies
 
Nick Ashley
 
  3  
Reply Mon 25 Aug, 2008 10:02 am
@Derevon,
Yeah, luckily no demonic presence, or hallucinations of any kind for me.
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Mon 25 Aug, 2008 11:12 am
@Nick Ashley,
I occasionally have had it as a a child, but not anymore.

I don't know how common sleep paralysis is, but I know it's very common among people who believe they've been abducted by aliens. Whenever claims of alien abduction are tested rigorously, they almost always find that the person reporting the abduction suffers from sleep paralysis.
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Aug, 2008 11:13 am
@Thomas,
Hey Nick, check this out. Two birds with one stone!
0 Replies
 
OGIONIK
 
  0  
Reply Mon 25 Aug, 2008 11:25 am
@Nick Ashley,
when i first moved into my dads i was screaming help me help me for like 15 minutes but i could not move.

it was crazy but i got over it.
Derevon
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Aug, 2008 03:34 pm
@Nick Ashley,
The first time I had it was by far the worst. It felt as if somebody was holding down my shoulders very, very hard, and I was being beaten and pinched, experiencing actual physical pain. I saw very disturbing images. I was just totally powerless. I really tried to wake up, but there was nothing I could do. That's the scariest thing IMO, compared to a normal dream. When having a normal nightmare you can just wake up, but a sleep paralysis can go on for what feels like ages.
 

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