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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 November 11, 2019

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

4. Feed Your Brain

Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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6. Write it Down

If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

7. Listen to Music

Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

8. Visual Concepts

In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

9. Teach Someone Else

Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

More About Boosting Memory

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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