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Don’t Panic Next Time When You Shake/Can’t Move During Sleep, Remember This

Don’t Panic Next Time When You Shake/Can’t Move During Sleep, Remember This

Have you found your body shake when you are falling asleep? Have you ever had the unsettling experience of waking up in the middle of the night and finding that you are unable to move? Has this elicited feelings of fear and panic? Let’s take a closer look at what this is, why it happens and how to deal with it without panicking.

First, why your body shakes when you nearly fall asleep?

Neurologists explained when we start to enter the “Slow wave sleep” stage, we experience a separation between brains and muscles so that we won’t move when we dream. So it’s a normal situation that most of us would experience and it’s just like a disconnection performed in our bodies. It doesn’t imply that we have any hidden diseases.

Before we wake up, our minds and muscles will reconnect so it’s also common for us to shake before we wake up.

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Some people would experience an exceptional case where the disconnection occurs earlier than the brain actually falling asleep completely. Then they would panic as they’re conscious but can’t move our bodies. This is called sleep paralysis.

What is sleep paralysis?

Sleep paralysis (SP) may be described as a period of time during which voluntary muscle movement is inhibited, yet you can see, breath and sense as in a waking state. SP can occur when you fall asleep or when you are about to wake up. A characteristic of SP is vivid hallucinations. These can be frightening experiences that have been interpreted and explained as, for example, the results of witchcraft, malevolent spirits and extra-terrestrial visitations.

How does sleep paralysis happen?

Deep sleep or REM sleep is at times suppressed; this can occur for a variety of reasons such as anxiety, trauma, jetlag, unusual sleep patterns or alcohol. When REM sleep is suppressed instead of occurring at the beginning of the night it takes place at the end of the night and this can elicit strange occurrences.

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During REM we experience vivid dreams and, during this period of sleep the body is put into a state of complete paralysis. This is believed to prevent us from performing our dreams and is a completely normal occurrence. Sometimes, however, things don’t go according to plan and you can wake up during the REM period while your body is still paralyzed.

Who suffers from sleep paralysis?

Around 8% of the general population, 28% of students and 32% of psychiatric patients have experienced SP at least once, according to various studies. The reason that SP occurs at a higher rate in psychiatric patients and students is somewhat unclear but it is thought that it may be because both groups experience regular sleep disturbances; an occurrence that makes SP more likely.

SP has been linked with conditions such as narcolepsy, hypertension and seizure disorders, but it is also associated with sleep disturbances, a general lack of sleep, jet lag and shift work.

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Why some people see strange things during sleep paralysis?

SP experiences can be very frightening. Cheyne et al. discovered that 90% of a student sample and 98% of a web-based sample said that they felt fear. Clinically significant levels of fear were found in 69% of a psychiatric sample taken by Sharpless et al. These high levels of fear sharply contrast the fear felt by people when they experience regular dreams. During normal dreaming fear occurs 30% of the time.

Brian Sharpless, a clinical psychologist at Washington State University and author of the book, Sleep Paralysis: Historical, Psychological, and Medical Perspectives says: “I had one patient who was lying in bed and woke up to see a little vampire girl with blood coming out of her mouth,” he continues by saying “This is an example of a really vivid, multi-sensory hallucination. She could feel this vampire figure grabbing onto her arms, pulling her, and saying she was going to drag her to hell and do all these terrible things to her.”

Anxiety levels are high when people experience SP. Sharpless explains: “You have this vague sense that there’s something in the room with you.” Often people have the unnerving feeling that someone is watching them.

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The brain is confused and urgently tries to make sense of the different signals it is getting. It uses cultural beliefs and memories and applies them to the situation of SP. Baland Jalal, a neuroscientist at the University of California says  “Adding original features, scenarios or stories to try and make sense of what you’re experiencing is a very human thing to do”. He explains that “this is why people see ghosts, demons, aliens or even figments from their past appearing to attack them.”

The fear that comes with SP is not only derived from the fact that one feels paralyzed but also from the hallucinatory content that accompanies the paralysis. Unnatural involuntary movements, the presence of malevolent intruders and psychical or sexual assaults are frequently experienced during an SP episode.

How to avoid sleep paralysis

Psychologists offer some suggestions that may help deal with SP. These tips include trying to establish a more regular sleep cycle and not sleeping on your back or stomach. “People are statistically less likely to have it, if they sleep on their side,” Sharpless says. “We think there’s something about the extra weight when we’re in a supine position that makes it more likely.”

Summation

Next time you experience SP try to remember why it is happening. Thinking about the physical reasons for this phenomena may help you manage your SP experience better and stop you from becoming too frightened by it.

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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