Imagine waking up and being unable to move or speak. It feels like someone or something is holding you down. How terrifying!
This is commonly known as sleep paralysis, and it can happen as you're falling asleep or when you're waking up. The condition occurs when the transition from one sleep stage to another is staggered rather than smooth- leaving the body asleep but the mind awake or more accurately ‘aware’ of the paralysis. It is a common fear - being alive, but unable to move, talk or get up, being trapped inside one’s own body.
Kendall Jenner described the condition as ‘genuinely frightening’. She has suffered from the sleep condition since a teen, but it has been exacerbated recently by work commitments that force her to travel across multiple time zones between the US and Europe.
Sleep deprivation and/or keeping irregular sleep schedules are the largest risk factors after genetics. Many sufferers experience extreme anxiety as they anticipate the sleep paralysis (which lasts usually for a few seconds but at times for a few minutes). Often they avoid sleep because of the anxiety… this only leads to a higher chance of it occurring when they do sleep again.
Sleep paralysis is not dangerous and does not require any medical treatment unless it is interfering with day-to-day function. For Kendall Jenner, whose sleep paralysis may be limiting her sleep and ability to work, it would be wise for her to seek help at a sleep clinic or with a sleep specialist.
Have you ever experienced sleep paralysis? We would love to hear from you.
Image source: Chia-Hsin Ho / Creative Commons / Via Flickr: hsinho