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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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Rebecca Beris

Rebecca is a wellness and lifestyle writer at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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