About half the people on the planet will experience sleep paralysis at least once. It’s that frightening moment when you realize you’re awake, but you can’t move. This frightening event happens to both women and men of any age. It has nothing to do with mental illness, but everything to do with how you sleep.
Sometimes sleep paralysis runs in families, so there appears to be a genetic factor involved at least some of the time. But besides genetics, there are several reasons why you might wake up unable to move:
- Physical fatigue
- Sleep deprivation
- Erratic sleep schedule
- Sleeping on your back
- Overuse of stimulants like caffeine
This list sounds like it describes every parent ever, doesn’t it? Happily, these are circumstances that can be controlled. We’ll get to the solutions in a moment. First, let’s discuss what sleep paralysis is.
What is sleep paralysis?
Two kinds of sleep paralysis
There are two times when you might become conscious but feel unable to move. One is when you’re falling asleep. It’s called predormital or hypnagogic paralysis when your muscles have relaxed, and you’re about to doze off, but your mind becomes aware. Although it lasts anywhere from a few moments to a couple of minutes, it can feel terrifying.
Then, hynopompic or postdormital paralysis occurs when you awaken after sleeping. This is the most common kind that happens. It’s because you haven’t finished the REM or dream stage of sleep.
People who undergo sleep paralysis relate a variety of sensations. Some say they feel pressure on their chest. They might sense a presence, hear noises, feel trapped, and they won’t be able to speak or move to respond to the threat they perceive. Not surprisingly, some scientists say this experience is behind reports of alien abductions.
Perhaps you can imagine why people who experience sleep paralysis because of exhaustion or insomnia end up not wanting to sleep at all. It becomes a vicious cycle like being in a car wreck and never wanting to drive again. But the cycle must be broken.
Solutions for better sleep
If you’ve been experiencing sleep paralysis, by all means, speak to your doctor. Sometimes this condition is related to narcolepsy and other sleep disorders.
Meanwhile, sleep experts will tell you that good sleep hygiene will put a stop to restless nights and insomnia. If you want to stop sleep paralysis and never experience it again, it’s time to pay attention to your sleep habits.
But before we dive into how to sleep better, let’s quickly cover what to avoid.
Skip these things to sleep better
It’s a busy world, we know. But watching the news before bed isn’t conducive to sleep. The same goes for too much screen time of any kind.
Also, stop caffeinating well before bedtime. Caffeine has a half-life of five to six hours which is why the last cuppa Joe should be no later than 3 pm.
Exercise is a great idea to help you sleep restfully, but only if you wrap up at the gym at least three hours before bedtime. Your body needs time to slow down after a workout.
Now it’s time to get ready for a good night’s sleep.
Prepare for bed
You probably have habits for certain things. Most people do. Sleep needs to become a habit just like flossing or taking a shower. It’s important to stick to a schedule so that your body gets tired around the same time each day.
If at all possible, make bedtime a special time. Make a ritual out of it. Read a few pages of a book or do something else that takes your mind off the day. But try to avoid looking at backlit screens because the blue light will wake up your brain.
One trick that works for a lot of people is to make a to-do list for the next day. Then they can put their worries aside until tomorrow.
An hour or so before you plan to go to sleep set up a diffuser in your bedroom with a calming scent like lavender. Pull the drapes, dim the lights, and lower the temperature so that you’re cozy while sleeping.
You’re almost ready for bed. Now there are a couple more steps you can take that can help you sleep better throughout the night.
Keep sleep interruptions to a minimum
Having your sleep interrupted is unpleasant, and it can provoke sleep paralysis, too. You can minimize your chances of awakening in the middle of the night with a little help.
For example, invest in noise-reducing earplugs. It might take a few nights to get used to wearing them, but they’re excellent if you sleep with someone who snores. On the other hand, you could also try a white noise machine that provides soothing background sounds like ocean waves.
Next, if you don’t use blackout curtains, what about a sleep mask? Studies show that even the tiny LED lights from electronics can mess up sleep patterns. Keep your bedroom dark until morning for better sleep.
Finally, ensure that your bed and bedding are comfortable for you. This especially applies to your mattress and pillow. If you’re stiff and sore, you won’t sleep well. But there are all sorts of pillows that get rid of neck pain.
On the same note, there are also pillows that perfect for your favorite sleeping position. Even combination sleepers who roll from their sides to their backs can find one that suits their needs.
Products for better sleep
We’ve mentioned several things that can help you sleep better. Now we’ll show you examples of which ones work well to induce healthy sleep.
Utopia Bedding – Blackout Room Darkening and Thermal Insulating Window Curtains
Remember those thick heavy curtains at the hotel? They keep out light, heat, and even sound so that you sleep like a baby. These are the drapes you need if you live on a busy street or have an east-facing window. They are machine-washable and can be dried in the dryer, too.
Coop Home Goods The EDEN Pillow
If you roll from side to side and sometimes sleep on your back, try the EDEN pillow from Coop Home Goods. It’s filled with shredded memory foam, gel, and microfiber for soft yet firm comfort. And you can add or remove stuffing to make the perfect height.
Core Products Tri-Core Orthopedic Neck Support Pillow
The Tri-Core neck support pillow is one of the best choices for resolving neck pain. It offers comfy positions for virtually any sleeper. And you can use it to train yourself to sleep on your side to avoid sleep paralysis.
Adaptive Sound Technologies LectroFan High Fidelity White Noise Machine
The LectoFan offers a way to drown out snoring, noisy neighbors, and traffic with soothing white noise. It has twenty different sounds, has a sleep timer, and runs off AC or USB power connections.
Honeywell MF08CESWW Portable Air Conditioner with Dehumidifier & Fan
Set the timer on this portable air conditioner so that your bedroom environment is ideal for sleeping. Not only does it cool off the room, but it also dehumidifies it so you won’t get a stuffy nose. It comes with a remote control, too.
Jersey Slumber 100% Silk Sleep Mask
A sleep mask can make all the difference in the quality of your sleep. The 100% silk material of this one is soft and soothing to skin. And the adjustable elastic strap won’t yank your hair when you put it on or take it off.
Flents Quiet Please Ear Plugs (50 Pair) NRR 29
Flents makes some of the best earplugs on the market. This pack of 50 pairs reduces noise by 29 decibels which makes almost any noise fade away. Plus, you can wear them for a few days before you switch to new ones.
Organic Aromas Nebulizing Pure Essential Oil Aromatherapy Diffuser
The advantage of a nebulizing diffuser is that it fragrances the air with pure essential oil instead of adding humidity, too. The Organic Aromas Nebulizing Diffuser only needs a few minutes to prepare your bedroom with a relaxing aroma.
URPOWER Square Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser Humidifier, 700ml Large Capacity
Perhaps you live in an arid environment where a humidifier is welcome. In that case, this URPOWER ultrasonic diffuser can run from ten to twenty hours on a full tank. All you need to do is add a few drops of essential oil to transform your bedroom into a paradise of the senses.
Edens Garden Good Night Essential Oil
The Good Night oil blends relaxing scents of lavender, bergamot, sandalwood, and more to induce sleepiness when you diffuse it.
Now Foods High Potency 5mg Melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone that the human body makes and uses to regulate sleep. That’s why taking a melatonin supplement can help a person fall asleep at night and wake up refreshed.
Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to a Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success
Learn how to sleep better with this book from Shawn Stevenson. He explains his 14-day sleep makeover to get you back on track and feeling rested.
Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book
Try a little light bedtime reading that even puts adults to sleep. The Sleep Book from Dr. Seuss is a yawner classic.
ALASKA BEAR – Natural Silk Pillowcase
While a set of silk sheets can break the bank, a single silk pillowcase is a worthwhile indulgence. One hundred percent pure silk prevents facial wrinkles and protects the cuticle of your hair while you sleep. Curly-haired moms love them!
It’s within your power to sleep better. You can reduce the risk of sleep paralysis so that bedtime is something you look forward to each night. Take the time to change your sleep habits for the better. And invest in your well-being with the things you need to feel more comfortable and better-rested.
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