Possible causesSeveral studies have concluded that many or most people experience sleep paralysis at least once or twice in their lives. A study conducted by Sedaghat F. et al. has investigated the prevalence of sleep paralysis among Iranian medical students. 24.1% of students reported experiencing sleep paralysis at least once in their lifetime. The same result was reported among Japanese, Nigerian, Kuwaiti, Sudanese and American students.
Many people who commonly enter sleep paralysis also suffer from narcolepsy. In African Americans, panic disorder occurs with sleep paralysis more frequently than in Caucasian Americans. Some reports read that various factors increase the likelihood of both paralysis and hallucinations. These include:
- Sleeping in a face upwards or supine position
- Irregular sleeping schedules; naps, sleeping in, sleep deprivation
- Increased stress
- Sudden environmental/lifestyle changes
- A lucid dream that immediately precedes the episode.
- Excessive consumption of alcohol coupled with lack of adequate sleep
TreatmentTreatment starts with patient education about sleep stages and about the muscle atonia that is typically associated with REM sleep. For most healthy individuals, avoiding chronic sleep deprivation is enough to relieve symptoms. It is recommended that patients be evaluated for narcolepsy if symptoms persist.
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