posted on Jan, 12 2005 @ 10:48 AM
Sleep paralysis falls under the category of a parasomnia. Basically that means it is not something that is often seen in a sleep lab because it does
not happen consistently. I am not an expert on the subject because of this, in my lab we mainly deal with sleep apnea. I will look up the specifics
later today for you and repost.
In a nut shell though what happens when you sleep is that you have 5 stages. Stage one through four and REM. Stage three and four go away with age,
they are slow wave sleep and generally have to do with growth and healing. Stage one is somewhere between awake and asleep. Stage two is where most
people spend about 70% of the night. REM is the remainder, and the most important. It is believed that REM is when a person transfers short term
memory to long term, and it is a fact that this is the stage in which you have logical (story like) dreams. During this stage of sleep your brain
becomes active, almost like when awake. We watch muscle tone and eye movements to help us identify REM from awake. Your brain emits a chemical that
paralyses your nonessential muscles when in REM. If it did not do this you would act out your dreams. People that have REM disorder do exactly that,
they jump around walk etc in their sleep.
So the point I am making is that sleep paralysis occurs when you wake from REM and that chemical does not wear off in time. You could wake due to
apnea, because the relaxation in your muscles causes your airway to collapse (causing you to choke, hence the panic attacks), it can be due to
nocturnal seizures, or due to drugs that you are prescribed. If it is drugs, then your doctor has to modify what you are taking. If seizures, then he
has to prescribe you something to stop them, and if due to apnea then we fix that with a CPAP (constant positive airway pressure) machine that keeps
your airway open.
You are going to have to have a sleep study done to figure out what is going on with you specifically. Your primary doctor should be able to refer you
to a sleep lab to check this. Just tell him that you suspect you have either apnea or sleep paralysis, and he should know somewhere to send you, if
not u2u me.
Some other good signs of apnea are waking with a dry mouth or a headache, snoring, and waking at about the same time every night. A normal person that
lives a normal nine to five kind of life will go into REM around 12, then again around 3, and once more between 5 and 6:30. If you consistently wake
up at like 3 or 3:30 to use the restroom, or always wake before your alarm clock goes off, then chances are this is what is going on.