By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.
More on Sleep paralysis.
Remember this is written from a therapist’s point of view. If there is any chance that you or someone you know has a medical problem, have it checked out by a doctor first. But if the doctor finds nothing medically wrong with you that does not mean you are going crazy. It might mean that you can benefit from some counseling to help you better cope with stress.
Many people who experience sleep paralysis, hypnogogic hallucinations, or “exploding head syndrome,” think they are going crazy or fatally ill. Knowing that these are explainable phenomena and have simple treatment can reduce the concerns. Sleep Paralysis and many related sleep problems are often triggered by stress. More stress, good or bad stress, and the chances of an attack increases.
People who become fearful of another occurrence of Sleep Paralysis can “prime the pump” and increase the risks of a second bout in the same way people who experience panic attacks begin to worry about having another episode.
If clients describe these events as dreams the doctor is likely to reassure them that it is normal. Patients who explain these events as demons, spirits, or believe they actually saw a supernatural being are likely to be prescribed a psychiatric medication. Antipsychotics, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications (Benzodiazepines) are all believed to increase the incidence of Sleep Paralysis and Hypnogogic Hallucinations (Gangdev, 2004.)
Other things that have been reported to increase the risks of having an episode of Sleep Paralysis include being physically ill, such as having the flu, watching or experiencing emotionally upsetting events, such as having an argument.
If the paralysis or hallucinations only occur when going to sleep and waking up they are most likely sleep-related and not the result of a mental illness. Gangdev, in his article, asked the question: “It is possible that a small proportion of patients diagnosed with schizophrenia who experience hallucinations may actually be experiencing escaped REM-related dream activity during the wakeful state?”
There is a significant overlap between sleep paralysis and Narcolepsy. Narcolepsy includes not only sleep paralysis but hypnogogic and hypnopompic hallucinations, daytime sleepiness, and Cataplexy (sudden unexplained loss of muscle tone.)
Sleep Paralysis without any cataplexy or daytime sleepiness is not considered to be associated with Narcolepsy and is referred to as Isolated Sleep Paralysis (ISP.) Penn reported that 16 % of medical students reported at least one episode of sleep paralysis. That makes me think that long hours and sleep deprivation may be a major cause of many of these events.
Sleep Paralysis is far more common in African-Americans and in one study of Nigerian subjects more than half had experienced ISP. It is also common in Japanese Subjects.
People who have a Sleep Paralysis event find it helpful to get up move about and make sure they are fully awake before attempting to return to bed. People who do not get out of bed have an increased risk of having multiple episodes of sleep paralysis in the same night. Sleeping flat on your back looking up at the ceiling (supine position) is much more likely to cause a Sleep Paralysis experience than sleeping on your side.
Knowing that episodes of Sleep Paralysis and Hypnogogic Hallucinations are relatively common and most often harmless can help someone cope with these experiences.
Staying connected with David Joel Miller
Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!
My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.
Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.
Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.
As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.
Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.
Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.
Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.
Planned Accidents The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.
Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.
What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?
Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.
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