When you fall asleep, your brain causes your muscles to relax and be still. In someone who suffers from sleep paralysis, this sensation occurs while the person is awake. Sleep paralysis can be terrifying. You may be awake, but you are unable to move or speak. An episode can last for seconds or minutes, causing fear, anxiety and even hallucinations.
If you have ever experienced sleep paralysis, you know how terrifying it can be. There are several preventative measures you can take to avoid another episode. When you find the one that’s right for you, it may save you from ever having to experience sleep paralysis again.
7 Prevention Strategies For Sleep Paralysis
1. Rule Out Medical Conditions
The exact cause of sleep paralysis is unknown. If you’ve experienced multiple episodes, check in with a doctor to rule out any possible medical problems. Working with a sleep specialist, checking for neurological conditions and monitoring your hormone levels and vitamin levels may prove extremely beneficial in preventing another attack.
2. Minimize Sleep Disruptions
Research has shown that sleep interruptions are linked to sleep paralysis. In one study, researchers were able to manipulate the brains of healthy volunteers into experiencing sleep paralysis, but waking them as soon as they entered REM sleep. The results suggest that frequent interruptions throughout the night can trigger an episode. Turn off your phone at night, block out external light and don’t fall asleep with your TV on.
3. Stick To A Set Sleep Schedule
While the exact cause is unknown, researchers speculate that lack of a sleep schedule may be one of the causes of sleep paralysis. If you are constantly going to bed and waking up at different times each day, your lack of a routine might be causing sleep paralysis episodes. Create a sleep regimen that involves going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning. This will help your body recognize how much sleep you need each night and how to transition through sleep phases more efficiently.
4. Adjust Your Sleeping Position
In most sleep paralysis cases, people who experience an episode are sleeping on their back. To lower your chances of having an episode, sleep in a different position such as on your side or on your stomach. Researchers aren’t sure why most episodes occur while a person is sleeping on their back, but changing up your sleep position might help stop it from happening.
5. Reduce Your Stress
Anxiety, trauma and depression can increase your risk of sleep paralysis. Stress and over-activation of the sympathetic nervous system may be causing your episodes. Remember to slow down and find ways to de-stress. Exercise regularly, meditate, read a book or take a bubble bath before bed. Reducing your stress will help improve your sleep quality as well as your overall quality of life.
6. Get More Sleep
People who experience sleep paralysis are often sleep deprived. When you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body has a hard time resetting your circadian rhythm. Instead of feeling mentally and physically rejuvenated in the morning, you’ll feel sick, sluggish and constantly fatigued. Aim for 7-9 hours each night. Don’t skimp on sleep – your health will suffer if you do.
7. Ditch The Drugs
Ingesting nicotine, caffeine or alcohol frequently – especially before bed – may make you more prone to sleep paralysis. Ditch them altogether, or at least abstain several hours before bed. If you are taking medication, it may also be causing your episodes. Talk to your doctor to see if your medication may be causing your sleep paralysis and figure out a plan to help.