Nine Amazing Ways on How to Avoid Sleep Paralysis

Sleep paralysis occurs when a person cannot speak or move during sleep, even if he/she is aware of his/her surroundings. One episode of sleep paralysis can last for a few minutes, but severe sleep paralysis can last for as long as a few hours. Fortunately, there are some preventive measures for this phenomenon, although not all of them are proven to be effective for everyone. Each episode is different, so the most effective way of preventing sleep paralysis varies on a case-to-case basis.

How to Avoid Sleep Paralysis

1. Adjust Your Sleep Position

Sleep on your side rather than your back since the supine position increases the risk of sleep paralysis. This is especially true after waking up and trying to fall back asleep. To make sure you don't unconsciously roll onto your back while sleeping, place a tennis ball in your pajama pocket.

2. Get Plenty of Sleep

Sleep debt is often linked to isolated instances of sleep paralysis. How to avoid sleep paralysis? Get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Anything less than that can increase your risk of experiencing an episode of sleep paralysis. Try to relax with your favorite books and music at least an hour before bed to get a more relaxing sleep. Breathing exercises are one of the easiest and most effective ways of decreasing anxiety levels, helping the brain relax and giving you a more restful sleep.   

3. Block out Light or Sound

Add thick curtains to your windows and turn off all electronics to improve your quality of sleep. You can also wear noise-cancelling headphones and blindfolds to block out all sound and light. Sleep disruption is often linked with prolonged exposure to TV, phones, and video games before bed.

4. Stick with Your Sleep Schedule

Maintaining a regular circadian rhythm is one of the easiest ways of how to avoid sleep paralysis. This will also help you feel less stressed and more rested. Choose comfortable mattress and pillows. Lumpy, uncomfortable sleeping surfaces can sacrifice your sleep quality and increase your risks of sleep paralysis.

5. Avoid Heavy Meals or Night Caps

Alcohol has drastic effects on your sleep cycle, as do heavy meals with fats, sugars, and proteins. It's best to avoid heavy meals before bed to improve your sleeping habits. Also avoid caffeine. Coffee does not only cause insomnia, but withdrawal actually increases anxiety and causes a fitful sleep.  

6. Drink a Glass of Milk or Herbal Tea

Lemon balm, chamomile, passion flower, and other herbals teas are great for helping you relax. Another alternative would be milk or cottage cheese which increase melatonin and help you sleep better.

7. Keep a Sleep Journal

Keeping a list of all your sleep paralysis nightmares can actually provide psychological distance and more importantly, help you keep track of any recurring patterns. It can better predict when you’re likely to experience another episode and help you keep track of what methods help wake you up and calm down in case another episode does take place. 

8. Take Supplements

Melatonin is the most common supplement you can take to help you sleep better, though there are several others like 5-HTP, magnesium, valerian root, and L-tryptophan. Be sure to check for potential side effects and contradictions, especially when taking more than one medication. Taking supplements can be especially be helpful if you are traveling to a different time zone or working irregular hours.

9. Consult a Medical Professional

If your condition persists and becomes more intense, see your doctor and ask him how to avoid sleep paralysis. He can find out if these are being caused by more serious sleep disorders or even mental health problems. A sleep specialist will be able to help you keep track of your mental activity and even recommend a solution specific to you. Psychotherapy may also be helpful to you, especially if you have PTSD which can contribute a lot to sleep paralysis episodes.

How to Wake Up from Sleep Paralysis

Eliminating sleep paralysis altogether is a process that may take a bit of time. To cope with any episode you might experience as you begin your recovery process, try the following techniques:

  • Focus on moving your body. Concentrate on bringing back motion to a small part of your body, such as your fingers and toes to force yourself to fully wake up.
  • Try moving your eyes. Sleep paralysis does not generally stop you from opening your eyes and looking around, and some patients actually recommend looking around back and forth to break the paralysis.
  • Control your breathing. This will help you maintain your composure and relax yourself even as you experience the paralysis. Try to have a list of breathing exercises you can use to help you regain control of your body and sense when you have another episode.
  • Create an image of yourself moving. Some people find that imagining themselves moving from their body effortlessly helps get them through the paralysis by calming them down and inducing a more pleasant experience.
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