You have no idea how you got yourself in this position, but you’re aware that you’re awake. Thing is, you can’t move your body. When you finally wake up, it seems like the end of a nightmare. This is what most say when they experience the phenomenon called sleep paralysis. Given the frightening nature of the phenomenon, however, some people can’t help but ask: can you die from sleep paralysis?
- 1 Can You Die From Sleep Paralysis?
- 2 What Are The Causes of Sleep Paralysis?
- 3 Is Sleep Paralysis Dangerous?
- 4 So, Can You Really Die From Sleep Paralysis?
- 5 How Do You Prevent Or Reduce Sleep Paralysis?
- 6 Conclusion
Can You Die From Sleep Paralysis?
Sleep paralysis is an extremely frightening phenomenon that people generally associate with extreme fear and helplessness. Your mind remains awake, but you have no means of any movement in your body. So, here is what we know so far.
What Is Sleep Paralysis?
Live Science explains that sleep paralysis is being conscious in your sleep, but not being able to move. It is best described as being trapped in between your sleeping and waking stages. These can last for seconds to minutes, depending on instances.
There are two kinds of sleep paralysis that can occur to the body. These are the following:
- Hypnopompic or Postdormital Sleep Paralysis occurs when you are about to wake up. This is perhaps the most common kind of sleep paralysis.
- Hypagogic or Predormital Sleep Paralysis occurs before you fall asleep.
Can Sleep Paralysis Happen To Anyone?
Given the nature and frequency of reports on sleep paralysis, it seems to be a phenomenon that can happen to anyone.
- It also appears that sleep paralysis can occur more regularly in teenagers and adults in their early 20s.
- Other people seem to report encountering episodes of sleep paralysis twice, or maybe thrice in their lifetime.
- Others seem to experience episodes of sleep paralysis on a regular level.
What Are The Causes of Sleep Paralysis?
Scientists can’t pinpoint a direct cause of sleep paralysis, but much of the phenomenon is tied to what is known as REM sleep. REM, which stands for rapid eye movement, is the state the body achieves after certain hours of rest. As per sleep paralysis, this occurs during the last hours of REM sleep, where your mind supposedly wakes up but the body does not sleep to follow.
Is Sleep Paralysis A Genetic Disorder?
Other sleep scientists seem to believe that sleep paralysis may be hereditary or genetic, meaning it can be passed on from one generation to the next. There seems to be not enough evidence to support this, however.
Is Sleep Paralysis Dangerous?
Sleep paralysis forces people awake but does not let them move any part of their body. This can happen for seconds, or even entire minutes. However, it does not seem to be dangerous.
- The most that could happen during paralysis is the feeling of hopelessness and the tightening of the chest.
- Other people who have encounters with sleep paralysis experience a form of weight that is on their chest. However, this doesn’t seem to disrupt the circulatory system in any way.
What Can Happen During Sleep Paralysis?
What happens during sleep paralysis actually depends on the kind of sleep paralysis you may be experiencing. For instance:
- In Predormital Sleep Paralysis, your body relaxes extremely slowly as you fall asleep. You’re slowly becoming aware that you’re falling asleep, but you cannot speak or move your body.
- In Postdormital Sleep Paralysis, your body starts alternating in between REM sleep and NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep. So, after dreams occur and you’re ready to "wake" up, we suddenly find our muscles turned off, as they’ve not adjusted from the NREM-REM shift yet.
Can You Get Hurt in Sleep Paralysis?
Paralysis in sleep may have some detrimental effect on your physical condition as a whole. It is best to consult a sleep doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- You cannot sleep because you fear that you will experience paralysis.
- You are therefore tired because you do not get enough sleep due to fear.
- You feel extremely anxious about being potentially "plagued" by sleep paralysis.
Hallucination During Sleep Paralysis?
Interestingly, people who’ve had paralysis episodes have said to have experienced being "watched" by some unknown presence. Scientists believe this might be some kind of hallucination, given the mind at this time is still in some kind of dream state.
So, Can You Really Die From Sleep Paralysis?
The short answer is no. Numerous experts from Health Tap have elaborated that while sleep paralysis is indeed quite frightening, it will not harm anyone that experiences it. However the long term effect of not sleeping well is a disastrous one.
How Do You Prevent Or Reduce Sleep Paralysis?
Sleep paralysis is definitely a frightening phenomenon, but it’s something that we can prevent, or at least avoid, thanks to a few tips you could follow.
Enhance Sleep Quality and Increase Sleep Quantity
If you have experienced paralysis during your sleep, it may be best to change your sleeping habits. Sleep Education suggests that it may be best to avoid sleep deprivation as much as possible. This means you have to get six, eight, or ten hours of sleep every day.
- If you’ve been experiencing cases of paralysis, it might be best to avoid coffee, alcohol, energy boosting products, and caffeine before you rest.
Your tendency, when in sleep paralysis, is to panic and try your best to wake up.
- The best way to tackle sleep paralysis is to find some way to relax the body and control the way you breathe.
- Before you sleep, find some way to control your breathing. You can hold your breath, and then take shallow breaths in different cycles.
Did you know that the correct sleeping position can actually let you benefit with a good night's sleep? This is because certain positions of the body when resting are actually extremely useful and helpful to treat certain ailments or conditions.
According to Better Sleep's Terry Cralle, RN, here are some of the most used sleeping positions and why or what they are used for:
- Fetal position sleepers are extremely common, as this is actually perhaps the most common sleeping position. This is what a lot of people consider as the best position as well, so look for this if you need comfortability.
- Freefall position, or lying with your body facing the bed, is what others consider the worst kind of position to sleep on, however. It actually puts a lot of pressure to your muscles and joints that can lead to pain and numbness.
- Try not to sleep on either the left or the right side of your body either. Medical Daily explains right side sleepers may get worse heartburns, while left side sleepers may strain organs like the lungs, stomach, and the liver.
Comfortable Pillows and Mattresses
Consumer Reports said choosing the right pillow is actually extremely useful as it can help augment your chosen sleeping position. Here are some of the best kinds of pillows depending on your sleeping position:
- If you’re a side sleeper, then it's best that you choose a firm pillow. The best pillow is the one that can maintain the right curve of your neck and head.
- If you’re a back sleeper, then it’s best to use lofty pillows. Medium loft or medium firm models should be able to work best for you.
- If you lie on your stomach, then you should use a thin and soft pillow. If you choose a firm pillow, you might have sore neck. Try sleeping on your side or your stomach with these great pillows to avoid the effects of paralysis.
WebMD elaborates that mattresses can actually also give you more benefits when sleeping, provided you choose one that works best for you and your sleeping position. Here are some mattresses you can choose from:
- Innerspring mattresses are perhaps the most commonly used mattress today. This type of mattress lasts longer, as coils don’t tend to pop out. They are made of a variety of materials.
- Memory mattresses are starting to become more popular as it "adjusts" to the kind of body you have. This means it can absorb multiple kinds of movement.
- Latex mattresses provide quite the bouncy and firm support. Latex also pushes your body outward, which means it can help give more support to your body.
- Air mattresses are best for people with spinal cord injuries, and those who have to lie down for a long time
Sleep paralysis can indeed be a frightening phenomenon, but it is in no way unavoidable. Sometimes, the proper changes in your sleeping habits can help stave off this phenomenon. If you, a friend, or a close relative is experiencing sleep paralysis, you now have a general idea about the condition to help ease their fears and mind if they ask can you die from sleep paralysis.