Sleep paralysis is considered one of the scariest things anyone can experience while sleeping. If you have ever had a nightmare so intense that you feel like your body can’t move or do anything, that is what sleep paralysis is. Your brain will be conscious enough to know you’re still sleeping, but somehow when you try to get out of bed, your body won’t move, creating a bit of panic and anxiety trying to get out of that state.
Some patients say that they can see shadow people, demons, or ghosts standing in their chests, holding them down. But it’s all a hallucination caused by the amygdala being too active at that moment. Only 8% of the population has experienced sleep paralysis, which is very scary.
We are not talking about your head exploding like in the movies. Exploding brain syndrome is more complicated than that. People suffering from it can hear loud noises when going to sleep or when they wake up. They describe it as a crash, explosion, or even a sunshot that feels like it happens right beside them. They only last less than a second, and it’s painless and doesn’t cause any danger.
Some people would stop having any episodes over time, and there is no need for any treatment at the moment unless it’s accompanied by any other symptom that needs to be observed. So far, there is little known of its cause, and even though science has known of the syndrome since the late 1800s, not a lot of research has been done.
It’s so interesting knowing all the things that change while we sleep that we never knew about until now. For example, did you know that we can barely smell while we sleep? What’s interesting about the sense of smell is that other senses are always in the conversation regarding sleep (like sound and sight, which can cause one to wake up from it). Your sense of smell won’t wake you up at all, and it’s something that can be worrisome in case of a fire or gas leak.
But smells like aromatherapy can be a great help when we want to relax and fall asleep. Some smells help the circadian rhythm regulate itself so you can fall asleep. Fragrances can have psychological and physiological responses that can become part of emotional memory, so if you have a pleasant scent in your bedroom, this might trigger a pleasant memory that can help you get a satisfying sleep faster.
If you are one of those people that wakes up with a stuffy nose, teary eyes and sneezing in the mornings, we feel your pain. Allergies can disturb our sleep and make a hassle when trying to get a good rest. About 30% of Americans suffer from allergic rhinitis and are more than likely to suffer from insomnia.
Some allergens can get into your nasal cavity while you sleep, causing a trigger in the system, and depending on the person, it can even wake you up from it. You can do some things to improve your sleep and not have an allergic episode. Using an air purifier is a great way to keep your air clean and dust free; Closing doors and windows, cleaning your room often to get rid of any dust on furniture and keeping your pets out of your space.
Having nocturnal panic attacks can be a big problem when it comes to having a good night’s sleep, and they sometimes happen with no apparent trigger. Same as daytime panic attacks, patients get heavy sweating, hyperventilation, racing heartbeat, trembling, chills, and more. There are no known causes of panic attacks. However, it can be due to genetics, thyroid problem, stress, or changes in your brain.
As with any mental health condition, getting cognitive behavioral therapy, medications, or both, can help prevent these episodes from happening. If they do, the intensity of it will be less than before. The best way to find what’s right for you is to consult your doctor for the best options for you.
Having to work at night has its pros and cons. However, when it comes to your health, this might be a problem with your circadian rhythm. It can cause a sleep disorder known as the shift work disorder. This condition affects people that work at night, early morning, and rotating shifts. It may cause insomnia or sleepiness throughout their waking time.
Since your body can’t get in sync with your circadian rhythm, which regulates your sleep-wake cycle, so it will start releasing hormones like melatonin when it perceives low light. The good news is that your body can get used to the schedule after a while, and the symptoms might fade away. It might take time, but soon, you’ll become a night owl, and your circadian rhythm will again find its groove.
If you take long-distance flights often or work for an airline, you know all too well about jetlag. The thing about traveling is the process of getting there; from checking in, running with your luggage to get to your gate, security lines, and hours of sitting inside a plane can be stressful and might take a hit on your sleep schedule.
When your internal clock gets misaligned with the local time at your destination, especially if it’s a different time zone, it can bring symptoms like sleepiness, impaired thinking, stomach problems, emotional difficulty, and even sleep paralysis. Thankfully, the symptoms will fade away when your body adapts to the new time and scenery. It might take a few days for your brain to realize that jetlag needs to go and vacation mode needs to be activated.
Same as our bodies need a shower to make us feel clean, our sleep schedule needs one too. And what better way to improve your productivity, mental health, and quality of life than having good habits and behaviors to make things better for you? Having routines promoting good sleep will have long-term consequences in everything else you do.
There are a few ways to achieve that: Having a sleep schedule, with a scheduled bedtime and wake time, by setting up alarms. Setting a consistent nightly routine that includes unplugging from electronics, dimming your light, and having 30 minutes to wind down before lying in bed might make the difference.
Our body has two key drivers to regulate our sleep: circadian alerting and the sleep-wake homeostasis system. Sleep-wake homeostasis is the one that manages how long we need to be awake and when to feel the need to sleep, depending on experience. This self-regulating system follows how long you’ve been awake to know how long you will need to sleep to recuperate.
It is unclear how it determines how much we need to sleep. However, during the day, neurons in our brain will activate that sensitivity with sleep loss. This system is also the one that will set up to sleep longer and deeply when there are periods of very little rest.