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"Awake but Immobile": Understanding Sleep Paralysis with Dr. Brian Moncada


Sleep paralysis is a phenomenon that has intrigued and frightened humanity for centuries. To shed light on this mysterious sleep disorder, we had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Brian Moncada, an expert in the field of sleep.


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In this post:


Understanding Sleep Paralysis


Sleep paralysis is a parasomnia that occurs during the REM phase of sleep, where, although we regain consciousness, our body remains in a state of muscle atonia. This phenomenon can be accompanied by visual, auditory, or sensory hallucinations, making the experience even more terrifying.


Types and Causes of Sleep Paralysis


Dr. Moncada from the Instituto del Sueño explains that there are three main types of sleep paralysis:


  1. Intruder paralysis: Where one might feel or see a presence, or hear sounds like doors opening.

  2. Nightmare paralysis: A pressure is felt on the chest, almost as if someone is suffocating you.

  3. Vestibular paralysis: Here, people might feel that they are spinning, falling, or even floating outside of their bodies.

While there is no direct cause, several factors associated with sleep paralysis have been identified. These include lack of sleep, stress, traumatic events, anxiety disorders, and alcohol consumption. Additionally, there's evidence of a genetic predisposition. In some cases, sleep paralysis may be related to narcolepsy.


Factors that Might Help in Prevention


For those looking for ways to prevent sleep paralysis, Dr. Moncada suggests reducing alcohol and caffeine consumption, especially before sleeping, maintaining a regular sleep schedule, creating a conducive sleeping environment, and practicing stress management techniques, such as meditation.


While there's no current treatment to address sleep paralysis directly, some research proposes treatments that would alleviate hallucinations during sleep paralysis episodes.


In any case, if one experiences sleep paralysis regularly, it's essential to seek specialized sleep medical help to rule out other underlying conditions like anxiety, depression, sleep apnea, or narcolepsy.


Dr. Moncada concludes with this reflection:

`Seep paralysis is a reminder that the mind and body, though closely connected, don't always wake up at the same pace. It's an intersection between the dream world and reality, and although it can be terrifying, it's a natural part of the sleep cycle.´- Dr. Brian Moncada

In summary, it's essential to remember that, although sleep paralysis might not seem so, it's a benign phenomenon. With education and understanding and the right specialist, we can effectively address and manage this sleep disorder.


Would you like to know more about how to sleep better? Join the "Sleep Well Tips" community and stay up-to-date with the best advice to achieve quality sleep!

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