Sleep paralysis is the worst experience ever, and I have had the awful misfortune of enduring episodes of it over the past few years.
Keep reading to discover ways to prevent future relapses and what to do when/if they happen.
What Is Sleep Paralysis?
Sleep paralysis is a parasomnia, in other words it’s an undesired event that is associated with sleep. It usually happens shortly after falling asleep or upon waking up, in the transition between waking and sleeping. It sort of feels like a glitch because your body is immobile but your mind is wide awake. So, your brain naturally freaks out!
What It Feels Like
During sleep paralysis, you are conscious but you are incapable of moving at all. You may feel pressure on your chest, the sensation of someone choking, or may hallucinate and see frightening shadowy beings. In my personal experience, everything was blurry as if I was experiencing the desert heat and my hands were not my own. They were long, burnt, and hot!
6 Ways To Prevent It
1. Make sleep a priority. Try to get 8 hours of sleep veery night. Do not be one of those people that brags about getting 4 hours of sleep to work. Trust me, it is not worth your sanity. If you want to calculate your sleep. Click on the link: https://startsleeping.org/sleep-calculator/
2. Promote a good night’s sleep. In addition to exercising, try having a bedtime routine. Some ideas are using face masks, putting essential oils on your pillow, turning the humidifier on, drinking some sleepy tea, using a weighted blanket, dimming the lights 20 mins before bed, doing some bedtime yoga to relax your muscles, and staying away from electronics. Blue screens have been proven to suppress the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Most importantly, try to reduce overall stress and anxiety (also mentioned below).
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
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3. Less stress and anxiety. Try to practice mindfulness. Nowadays we are lucky enough to have apps that can help with that. My favorite one is Headspace. You can check it out here. Other popular ones are Sanvello, Calm, and Simple Habit. It is a good idea to meditate before bed and set your intentions for the next day. If you want to, you can even jot them down in a bullet journal to help you keep track of it. Do not resort to self-sabotaging actions like overeating, starving yourself, drinking yourself away. Yes we all experience immense levels of stress but taking it one step at a time is the best way to counter it.
4. Don’t sleep on your back. Strangely enough, based on my experience and researching online, it seems that sleeping on your back can be a cause of sleep paralysis. Maybe try sleeping in other positions for now. I am sure in the future you will be able to sleep on your back again but for now, in order to help prevent the sleep paralysis try other positions.
5. Avoid alcohol (and other drugs). Yes it tastes good and it feels great, but while on your road to recovery do your best to avoid it a few hours before bedtime. I actually rarely drink now. I feel healthier, and much better without it. These vices will reduce your quality of sleep and it is not worth it. It will only hurt you in the long run.
6. Treat underlying conditions. IF you do suffer from other underlying conditions, like clinically diagnosed anxiety, depression, or narcolepsy, try to address those and seek treatment. Treatment will surely help you improve your sleep hygiene and prevent sleep paralysis.
6. Let it go. Do not fight the episodes. In my experience it only made the paralysis feel longer. Now that you understand what is actually going on, accept what is happening when it is happening. Close your eyes and let it go. Relax, breathe and let it go. I always find that the paralysis subsides quickly after and I am able to open my eyes and jump out of bed, super relieved that it didn’t last for so long.
Although there is no formal treatment for sleep paralysis, you can take the certain aforementioned steps to help prevent it. Prioritize sleep hygiene, reduce overall stress and anxiety, practice bedtime rituals that promote sleep and avoid self-sabotaging vices. Remember, although the experience can feel traumatic, it is only temporary and it is not dangerous.
What do you do to get better sleep? Leave me a comment below, I’d love to know!
Please check out the videos below for more info!