Sleep paralysis is often a symptom of narcolepsy, but having sleep paralysis doesn’t mean a person also has narcolepsy. During episodes of sleep paralysis, people often suffer from a sleep paralysis hallucination. This means that narcolepsy hallucinations and sleep paralysis are linked, making this a frightening situation for people who experience this ailment.
Sleep Paralysis and Hallucinations Defined
Sleep paralysis is when a person’s brain disconnects from their body during the time when they are falling asleep or when they are starting to wake up. The person remains aware of their surroundings, but is unable to speak or move, making this a truly scary situation. Hallucinations are surreal, yet very compelling in nature. When a person has a hallucination, they will see and hear things that are not really there. When narcolepsy, hallucinations and sleep paralysis are combined, a person can go through a great deal of suffering.
Sleep Paralysis and Narcolepsy Hallucinations
When a person has narcolepsy they suffer most commonly from E.D.S or excessive daytime sleepiness, causing them to have trouble staying awake during daytime hours. If left untreated, the person could suffer from insomnia during nighttime hours. When he or she is finally so tired that there are no other options but sleep, his or her body shuts down. During this period of sleep, sleep paralysis can occur with ensuing hallucinations. The periods of paralysis and hallucinations can cause the person not to want to go to sleep which can start a mania. Then, the cycle repeats itself perpetually, until the person finally has no choice but to act by seeking medical treatment.
Causes of Sleep Paralysis Hallucinations
Many different factors play a role when a person suffers from narcolepsy and sleep paralysis hallucinations. The following is a list of factors that are commonly thought of as triggers that cause these attacks.
- Stressful situations.
- Jet lag.
- A change in sleep patterns.
- Other sleep disorders.
Hallucinations are said to occur when the neural transmissions in the brain experience errors during the period of R.E.M. or rapid eye movement sleep. These hallucinations are said to be linked to sleep apnea, which is another sleep type of sleep disorder.
Symptoms of Sleep Paralysis Hallucinations
The symptoms of sleep paralysis hallucinations are very haunting in nature, People often say that the experience is extremely vivid, which can be truly frightening. These symptoms include:
- The feeling of being watched.
- Demonic beings or evil spirits being present in the room.
- The feeling of being weighted down, especially on the chest.
- Strange noises, such as voices, footsteps, heavy breathing and guttural sounds.
- The feeling of being suffocated.
- Horrific images.
- The feeling of being weightless or levitating.
These symptoms often cause a sense of dread in people who suffer from them, especially when falling asleep. For this reason alone, medical treatment should be sought to lessen the strain that these symptoms place on people. It should be noted that sleep paralysis is not considered by doctors to be dangerous.
A couple of other general complaints made by people who suffer from sleep paralysis hallucinations are:
- The inability to move the arms and legs.
- The inability to speak.
- The feeling of being exhausted when the episode has ended.
Methods of Coping with Sleep Paralysis Hallucinations
People suffering the symptoms of narcolepsy and sleep paralysis hallucinations can take comfort in that fact that there are numerous ways to cope with this illness. The following is a list of well-known methods used to deal with these symptoms.
- Be completely relaxed when trying to fall asleep.
- Overexertion or complete exhaustion of the body should be avoided at all cost.
- Eat a well-balanced, healthy diet.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, drugs, and medications that cause drowsiness.
- Try to stick to a solid sleep schedule, incorporating naps during the day.
- Keep a journal to record episodes of sleep paralysis and hallucinations.
- Sleep in a dark room with good air flow and little or no noise.
- Try some light reading before bed time.
- Breathing deeply and stretching can eliminate anxiety, which is suspected to be a cause of sleep paralysis hallucinations.
- Repeat breathing deeply a try to relax when and episode occurs.
- Remember that sleep paralysis hallucinations are just a medical phenomenon.
Medications Used to Treat Narcolepsy
There are several drugs that are used to treat narcolepsy on a regular basis. The most common being Sertraline (Zoloft) and Fluoxetine (Prozac), which both fall into the antidepressants category. Next, there are stimulants, which are a mainstay drug for treating narcolepsy, but should be avoided by patients who have a history of mental health issues, especially suicidal ideology. Finally, there is sodium oxybate.
Antidepressants are usually prescribed to help alleviate the symptoms of cataplexy. Cataplexy is when a person suddenly and without warning loses control of their muscles. This usually results in a fall and sometimes results in physical injury.
Sodium oxybate is prescribed to treat severe cataplexy. This drug is most commonly referred to as a date rape pill, due the relaxing sleep it induces. When taken at bedtime, it helps a person to sleep more soundly, thus reducing daytime narcoleptic attacks.
Stimulants are prescribed to help patients who have been diagnosed with narcolepsy so they can stay awake during the day. This drug stimulates the central nervous system, which promotes wakefulness and alertness. Older versions of stimulants are said to be addictive and have many side effects.
The True Story of a Sleep Paralysis Hallucination
Michael, age 22 from Indiana, said in a recent interview:
“When I first started experiencing sleep paralysis and hallucinations, I didn’t have any idea that such a disease existed. I don’t remember there being a great deal of stress in my life, other than working. One night as I was going to sleep I felt very dreamy, almost like I was floating, but I could see the room from where I was lying. I tried to ask my girlfriend what was happening, but I was unable to speak. I kept hearing this low, growling sound, kind of like demons in the room. Then I saw a shadowy figure, which look like Death himself. He walked through the door, came over to me, and he reached out and started choking me. I was unable to fight or get away and at this point I was trying to scream, because I was terrified by what was happening. I woke up a little while later and felt drained, both mentally and physically.”