Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night unable to breathe or talk? If you have, you’ve likely experienced sleep paralysis.
Sleep paralysis causes hallucinations and other shocking symptoms that can leave you feeling scared and helpless. Thankfully, the symptoms of sleep paralysis can be remedied with natural treatments.
Sleep paralysis is essentially a state of being in between sleep and consciousness. It happens either when you’re falling asleep or waking up, or your eyes are open but you’re unable to move.
It can actually be quite scary, but it is not much to worry about. It is little more than an indication that you’re not making smooth transitions through the sleep cycle.
Common sleep paralysis symptoms are:
- Being unable to speak for a few seconds or minutes
- Feeling pressure
- A sense of choking or gasping
- Feeling scared
Although sleep paralysis and hallucinations are scary, they are not an indicator of a deep-seeded psychological problem. Sleep paralysis may accompany other sleep-related conditions like narcolepsy.
There are sleep paralysis treatments that you can try at home. These home remedies for sleep paralysis can provide a number of other benefits, including improved sleep hygiene, stress reduction and resolving poor sleeping habits.
Natural Ways to Treat Poor Sleeping Habits and Sleep Paralysis
When you have poor sleeping habits it is far more likely you’ll be sleep deprived, thus greatly increasing the chances of sleep paralysis. People who experience sleep paralysis are much more likely to have poor sleeping habits and not get enough quality sleep.
By improving your sleep hygiene and the quality of sleep you get, you can perhaps limit, or even outright stop episodes of sleep paralysis. Treatments you can try include:
- Keeping a regular sleep schedule: Follow a schedule in which you go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time every day. Waking up to an alarm and making sure you get out of bed is a real help—just make sure you stick to the schedule. It can be tough for the first week or so, but after that you should become accustomed to it. Aim for six to eight hours of sleep each night.
- Create a restful environment: Make sure you sleep environment is tidy and relaxing. If possible, avoid keeping a television in the bedroom and try to keep computers, tablets and smartphones out of the room. Anything that can wake you or distract you from relaxing and getting to sleep should be removed.
- Keep your room at a comfortable temperature: It can be difficult to get comfortable, fall and stay asleep if it’s too warm or too cold.
- Sleep in a comfortable bed: If it’s been a while since you changed your mattress—like 10 or 15 years—it might be time to get something a little better. A mattress may be expensive, but it will be one of the best health products you could ever buy. Switching your pillows every six months to a year is also recommended.
- Exercise: Exercising can also help with sleep because it requires energy disbursement throughout the day. Try not to do it right before bed because it can keep you up.
Treatments for Narcolepsy and Sleep Paralysis Hallucinations
Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that makes it very hard to stay awake through the course of the day. It’s marked by severe daytime tiredness and the need to sleep every few hours. Narcolepsy not only substantially lowers the quality of life for those suffering from it, but it can also be very dangerous. Things like driving, standing or operating machinery become almost instantly hazardous. Because of the frequent and involuntary sleep spells, it can greatly increase the chances of sleep paralysis and sleep paralysis hallucinations.
There is no cure for narcolepsy, but there are some available lifestyle adjustments that can help:
- Take naps during the day when you have time. Schedule them into 20-minute slots for maximum benefit.
- Try and incorporate a good bedtime routine to maximize the opportunity for quality sleep overnight.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet and avoid processed foods and sugary drinks.
- Try to avoid stressful situations that can impact sleep.
- Try and get some exercise.
Other Natural Ways to Prevent Sleep Paralysis
When it comes to home remedies for sleep paralysis, the main goal should be improving poor sleeping habits. And the only real way to do this is to make better decisions during the day, long before you go to bed, so you’re relaxed and ready to sleep once you tuck yourself in:
- Wake up when your alarm goes off: It doesn’t matter how tired you might be or what day of the week it is, the sooner you wake up, the more ready you’ll be for sleep later on. This also helps you establish a sleep schedule that’s easy to stick to. If you find yourself tired throughout the day, sneak in a 20-minute nap. If you notice sleep paralysis or hallucinations during your attempts, fight through it. They should subside after you get used to your schedule and are getting quality hours of sleep every night.
- Find ways to reduce stress: Stress is a major reason as to why many Americans are lying in bed at night unable to sleep and experiencing sleep paralysis. There are a number of ways that are proven to reduce stress and improve sleep quality, so including at least one of these energy-burning stress reducers can be a big help: Tai chi, meditation, yoga, mindfulness or any type of exercise.
- Limit your intake of caffeine/nicotine/alcohol: Caffeine and nicotine are both stimulants that can keep you up at night even if you feel tired. If you like to drink coffee, caffeinated tea or other caffeinated beverages or food, try not to do so in the evening hours. Although not everyone responds to caffeine the same, a general rule would be to make sure you don’t have it up to six hours before bed. If you smoke, try quitting or at least limiting cigarette smoking in the evening. Although alcohol is a depressant and can make you feel tired, it actually makes you less likely to get a good night’s sleep. Limit alcohol intake in general, especially before going to bed.
- Improve sleep hygiene: Start your sleep process about an hour before bed by shutting off electronics and relaxing. Do some reading, take a bath or have a light chat with a loved one to signal to the body that it’s time to wind down. Avoiding visual stimulation or too much mental stimulation can make it difficult to sleep and encourage the onset of sleep paralysis.
Tips for Getting a Better Sleep at Night
Some great bedroom adjustments to treat sleep paralysis are:
- Increase privacy: The less distraction you have during the night and around bedtime, the better. So along with removing your television and leaving your electronics elsewhere you can block out light sources, limit external sounds (this may require wearing ear plugs or switching bedrooms to be in a quieter area), closing your bedroom door to keep pets out, and turning the TV off before bed so it doesn’t wake up.
- Sleep in a different position: There is a strong connection between sleep paralysis and sleeping on your back, so if you sleep on your back, see if you can switch it up. Sleeping on your side or stomach may be all you need to effectively treat sleep paralysis.
- Supplement with melatonin: This might help you fall asleep a little easier, and it can be purchased at most health food stores. Just make sure you’re not on anything else that might produce a contraindication.
Sleep Paralysis Treatment
Sleep paralysis is scary but you can treat the symptoms at home for little to no cost. Try these home remedies and leave the scary hallucinations of sleep paralysis behind!
Sources for Today’s Article:
Robinson, J., “Sleep Paralysis,” WebMD web site, October 25, 2014; http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/sleep-paralysis?page=2, last accessed November 13, 2015.
NHS, “Treating Sleep Paralysis,” NHS web site, November 19, 2014; http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Sleep-paralysis/Pages/Treatment.aspx.