New therapy may ‘dramatically’ reduce sleep paralysis events


ISLAMABAD, APRIL 14 (online): A study explores the benefits of meditation-relaxation therapy for people with narcolepsy who experience sleep paralysis.
A new study reports that around 20% of people worldwide experience sleep paralysis.
As the lead study authors explain, finding oneself mentally awake as the body’s voluntary muscles remain asleep can be a terrifying experience; sleep paralysis can bring with it a range of hypnagogic hallucinations.
“I know firsthand how terrifying sleep paralysis can be, having experienced it many times myself,” says first study author Baland Jalal, from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.
“But for some people,” adds Jalal, “the fear that it can instill in them can be extremely unpleasant, and going to bed, which should be a relaxing experience, can become fraught with terror.”
Jalal’s research is a small-scale pilot study exploring the efficacy ofmeditation-relaxation therapy as a treatment for sleep paralysis in people with narcolepsy. This is a condition that sleep paralysis sometimes accompanies.
Normally, our voluntary muscles remain immobilized during sleep, leaving us free to dream of physical activities without injuring ourselves in reality.
Every 90 minutes or so, we move between rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep. During both stages, the body remains relaxed. The eyes move during REM, which is the state in which dreams occur.
When something interrupts REM and the body remains asleep, sleep paralysis can occur.
It is not clear exactly what causes sleep paralysis. According to Jalal and colleagues, it is associated with sleep disruption, which is a common side effect of narcolepsy, and is common in people with psychiatric conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder.