No, sleep paralysis isn’t related to eye movements. Instead, it’s caused by a lack of sleep. When your body is tired, it may be unable to function normally. One of the most common causes of sleep paralysis is sleep deprivation.
Sleep paralysis isn’t a symptom of any particular health condition, so there’s no way to prevent it. It’s also not contagious.
What is sleep paralysis?
Sleep paralysis is a condition that causes you to have no conscious control over your body. In sleep paralysis, your body is still asleep, but you’re unable to move it or talk to anyone. It’s often accompanied by hallucinations.
In severe cases, sleep paralysis can cause you to lose consciousness for a few minutes at a time. It’s not a sleep disorder, but rather a symptom of a sleep condition, such as narcolepsy or sleep apnea.
What causes sleep paralysis?
Sleep paralysis is caused by sleep deprivation. The lack of sleep makes it impossible for your body to function normally.
It’s usually thought that sleep deprivation causes sleep paralysis because it prevents your brain from receiving enough oxygen. Your brain isn’t able to send messages to the rest of your body during sleep paralysis.
Other potential causes of sleep paralysis include:
- Restless legs syndrome
- Extreme stress
- Sleep deprivation
- A medical condition, such as narcolepsy
When to see a doctor?
If you have persistent sleep paralysis and it’s interfering with your sleep, it might be a symptom of another sleep condition. Make an appointment with your doctor.
If your sleep paralysis is caused by a medical condition, such as a sleep apnea or narcolepsy, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.
If it isn’t sleep paralysis, and you don’t want to lose sleep because you feel anxious or unwell, see your doctor for any other sleep conditions you might have.
How is it diagnosed?
If you’re experiencing a sleep paralysis episode, you might be diagnosed with a sleep disorder.
In addition to a physical exam, your doctor may use a sleep diary to check whether you’re getting enough sleep when you have sleep paralysis.
You may be diagnosed with sleep apnea if you have difficulty breathing or snoring when you sleep.
If you have narcolepsy, your doctor may order a sleep study. During this test, they’ll ask you to keep a sleep log. Your doctor can watch your eye movements while you sleep to determine whether you’re having sleep paralysis.
If sleep paralysis is caused by an underlying medical condition, your doctor may also order blood tests. These tests can help your doctor learn more about your medical history.
How is it treated?
If you have a sleep disorder and sleep paralysis, your doctor may recommend a variety of treatments that can help you get a better night’s sleep.
If you have sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend a CPAP machine. This machine allows you to breathe through your nose instead of your mouth.
If you’re diagnosed with narcolepsy, your doctor may prescribe medications to help you fall asleep.
You may also be diagnosed with sleep paralysis if you’ve had a sleep disorder but have completely recovered. It’s possible that sleep paralysis won’t go away. Once you get enough sleep, you should have fewer episodes.
There are a few things you can do to help treat sleep paralysis.
- Keep your bedroom free of clutter. This includes any objects that can make it harder to fall asleep.
- Practice good sleep hygiene. This includes taking care of your body and your household. You may want to take a hot bath, clean your bed, and use a fresh pillow.
- Avoid alcohol. Alcohol can make you more drowsy and increase sleepiness.
- Avoid stimulants like caffeine and nicotine.
You can also treat sleep paralysis at home. Try these tips:
- Wear a sleep mask. This will give you something to focus on when you feel drowsy.
- Take a warm bath to relax.
- Get a good night’s sleep.
- Exercise regularly to help you stay alert.
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
- Stay away from electronics in the bedroom, such as televisions and computers.
- Avoid heavy meals right before bed.
- Get plenty of exercise.
- Eat a balanced diet. This will help keep you from feeling hungry.
- Use a humidifier in your bedroom. This will help you keep cool.
How can you prevent sleep paralysis?
If you want to prevent sleep paralysis, you can try the following:
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Make sure your bedroom is cool.
- Avoid getting alcohol close to bedtime.
- Avoid stimulants like coffee and tea.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks, such as soda, coffee, and tea.
- Avoid eating a heavy meal right before bedtime.
You may have to experiment to find the best ways to prevent sleep paralysis.
What’s the long-term outlook?
If you get enough sleep and practice good sleep hygiene, you should have fewer sleep paralysis episodes.
If you don’t get enough sleep, it’s possible that you’ll continue to have sleep paralysis episodes.
If you experience sleep paralysis often, you may want to talk to your doctor about treatment options.
While you wait for your doctor’s treatment recommendation, you may want to make some changes to your lifestyle.
These changes may help you get better sleep and reduce your risk for sleep paralysis.
These changes may include:
- Getting regular exercise.
- Maintaining a healthy diet.
- Drinking plenty of water.
- Keeping your bedroom cool.
- Avoiding alcohol and caffeine before bedtime.
- Avoiding tobacco and other stimulants.
- Getting plenty of sleep.
- Using a humidifier in your bedroom.
The bottom line
You can get sleep paralysis when you’re asleep. It’s most likely to happen in the middle of the night, but it can also happen during the day.
Sleep paralysis is a natural occurrence. It’s not usually a serious condition, but it can cause a few symptoms, such as:
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