Anyone who has experienced sleep paralysis themselves will be familiar with Kendall Jenner’s, the star of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, description of the condition.
“I wake up in the middle of the night and I can’t move”. She adds that “everyone says I’m fine, but I don’t feel fine”.
It’s true Jenner is probably absolutely fine. After all, sleep paralysis is not connected to any serious health problems.
And if you’re worried about the question of can you die from sleep paralysis – it’s a no.
And yet, many people share Jenner’s plead that she doesn’t feel fine. That’s why many people want to know how to stop sleep paralysis so they can sleep soundly at night.
That’s why we’ve put together this guide to preventing sleep paralysis. Keep reading to find out more!
What is Sleep Paralysis?
Before we can tackle the question of how to avoid sleep paralysis, we need to answer the question of it is.
As Jenner describes, in most cases, it’s related to the feeling of being conscious during sleep without the ability to move your body.
This is because people experiencing sleep paralysis are in the space between sleeping and being awake.
But it’s not just about the inability to move. Many people experience something much scarier. They often describe feeling like there are other things in the room that aren’t actually there.
As the author of Unusual and Rare Psychological Disorders, Brian Sharpless remembers his first experience of sleep paralysis:
“I saw a shadowy face that looked like a ninja mask with red eyes”.
There are two main types of sleep paralysis. The first is at the moment you’re falling asleep, this is referred to as hypnagogic sleep paralysis.
The other kind is hypnopompic sleep paralysis, this occurs when you’re waking up.
Who Gets Sleep Paralysis?
Now we know what sleep paralysis is, the next question is – who gets it?
Whether you’re a man or a woman. Whether you’re old or young. Anyone can get sleep paralysis.
According to a group of psychologists from the University of Pennsylvania, just 8 percent of the general population have experienced sleep paralysis.
Although this might not sound many people, it’s a much higher percentage when you look at specific groups in society.
For instance, the researchers also found that over quarter of college students has experienced sleep paralysis at some point. While the number is almost one-third of psychiatric patients.
What Causes Sleep Paralysis?
Despite the scientific research that has gone into trying to understand sleep paralysis – what causes sleep paralysis?
And also, why some people experience it, while others don’t at all? – they are not much closer to a comprehensive answer.
However, there’s no need to give up any hope of overcoming your sleep paralysis. There are some things that have been linked to causing sleep paralysis.
Some of the factors that have been connected with the development of sleep paralysis are the following:
- Sleep deprivation
- Irregular sleep patterns
- Mental Illness, including stress, anxiety, and depression
- Sleep on the back
- Related sleep problems, including restless legs or narcolepsy
- Some medications
- Drug or alcohol abuse
Although we don’t understand everything about sleep paralysis, with this list of things, you can get a good understanding of what is causing your sleep paralysis.
Whether it’s a poor mental health or just general sleep deprivation, it’s important to know what the problem is before you can solve it.
How to Stop Sleep Paralysis?
We can’t be sure about how to prevent sleep paralysis from happening. But this doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do. There are steps you can take to reduce the effects and probability of sleep paralysis taking hold.
1. Change Your Approach
One way to deal with sleep paralysis is to simply change your approach.
When sleep paralysis happens to you, always remember that it’s not real. Nothing is going to hurt you. You’re ok!
As Brian Sharpless urges, “either look at it dismissively, ignore it, or find humor in it”. This is perhaps a helpful way of looking at sleep paralysis.
Many people have also suggested keeping your toes and fingers moving help. Others claim that thinking about spinning while your eyes are closed can stop sleep paralysis too.
After all, it’s only your brain playing tricks on you. By distracting yourself with humor or something else, you can make the experience much less scary.
2. Avoid Sleeping on Your Back
Even though research into sleep patterns shows that people usually don’t fall asleep while they’re on their back. Despite this, most people experience sleep paralysis while they’re sleeping on their back.
If you’re worried about sleep paralysis, it’s probably best if you avoid sleeping on your back in future.
3. Keep a Stable Location
Although sometimes where you sleep cannot be helped, it’s better to sleep in a location that you’re already familiar with.
Of course, you are still allowed to go on vacation or stay over at a friend’s house. But it’s good to be aware that this could be when you’re most vulnerable to developing sleep paralysis.
You could also try creating similar environments wherever you go sleep. This might be a favorite cushion or something. This might make the difference in making you feel at home.
4. Avoid Naping in the Afternoons
Do you sometimes get home in the late afternoon and treat yourself to a bit of shut-eye?
Napping in the afternoons is a luxury that many people don’t want to give up. However, this could increase the risk of experiencing sleep paralysis.
You can reduce the chances of sleep paralysis by avoiding naps and introducing a regular sleep pattern.
5. Do Physical Activity and Exercise
Even though scientists are still working on the discovery of a so-called “exercise pill“, there’s nothing like the real thing.
If you want to combat the risks of sleep paralysis, there are few things better than doing physical activity and exercise on a regular basis.
When you exercise, your body releases endorphins and gets your blood pumping through your body. But also, importantly, it gets your body exhausted in time for bed.
However, it’s also advisable to avoid exercising just before you go to sleep. This just wakes up your body, when you should be sending it to sleep.
6. Relax and Avoid Stress Before Bed
This is another factor that is sometimes difficult to avoid. However, you can implement a sleep routine in which you feel relaxed before bedtime.
Most research suggests you should not be using your smartphone or tablets, or even watching television just before you go to sleep. In fact, smartphone use before bed has been linked to many sleeping problems.
7. A Healthy Diet
Along with stress and lack of physical activity, an unhealthy diet is a common cause of sleep problems.
It’s common knowledge that caffeine and alcohol never helped anyone trying to get a good night’s sleep. But you should make sure you’re eating a healthy diet with high-fiber and low-fat and sugar.
The old saying, “breakfast like a kind and supper like a pauper” is excellent advice. But don’t forget to eat your lunch in the middle.
8. Get a Good Nights Sleep
As we increasingly led busy and full lives, many people are becoming concerned about the effects of a lack of sleep. This has caused some to prophet the “end of sleep“.
If you don’t make sure you get at least 6 hours of sleep every night, this could be causing you to get sleep paralysis. So try to get a good nights sleep, and you’ll help to keep sleep paralysis from showing your ugly face.
Even though you don’t have to call the Ghostbusters or the Men in Black to rescue you from the ghosts, monsters, and demons, there are no certain answers when it comes to preventing sleep paralysis from developing.
However, there are definitely some courses of action you can take to help you with how to stop sleep paralysis. By starting with making sure you get a good nights sleep to changing your lifestyle to include a more healthy diet and regular exercise.
There’s even a sleep calculator that will help you figure out the optimal bedtime for when you want to wake up. It takes into account sleep cycles and our natural body rhythms to help you find the best bedtime for your needs.
If you know of any other solutions to preventing sleep paralysis, leave a comment below.