May 16, 201209:14 AMCup of Joe
Your weekly dose of strange parenting news, trends, and polls
Help, I’ve fallen asleep and I can’t get up
Some people can sleep through anything. I’m one of those people. I once slept through a swarm of blaring sirens when my neighbor’s house caught fire next door. My sleep-through-anything nature is not without its quirks, however.
Sleep paralysis is a far more common experience than most people realize. According to a recent study conducted at the University of Waterloo, about 25 percent of the population has experienced sleep paralysis at least once in their lifetime and the condition can affect children as well as adults. The condition is harmless, but can be quite frightening.
If you’ve never experienced sleep paralysis, it’s very strange to say the least—and is entirely like it sounds: you lose the ability to move while starting to fall asleep or when just waking up. The whole experience is caused by the brain not fully exiting the REM sleep cycle which inhibits your movement to protect yourself during sleep.
During my first sleep paralysis experience as a teenager, I was a little unsettled. It began when I heard a strange ringing sound as I was falling asleep, another common trait of sleep paralysis, and suddenly I couldn’t move. An assortment of implausible reasons for my predicament passed through my head. Was I drugged? Had I been bitten by one of those super-poisonous house spiders? But after a few minutes, my movement returned. I was thoroughly freaked. I switched on my light and immediately turned to Google to figure out what the heck was wrong with me.
While I didn’t start experiencing sleep paralysis until I was about 16, the condition can affect younger children as well. It can be quite frightening for a child and even more difficult for them to explain. Follow these tips to help your child cope with sleep paralysis and prevent if from occurring:
- Have your child lay on his/her stomach or side when he/she goes to sleep.
- Set a regular bedtime and stick to it. Irregular sleep patterns are a common cause of sleep paralysis.
- Don’t allow your child to stay up past 11 p.m. Recent studies show that the likelihood of sleep paralysis increases late at night.
- If your child has experienced sleep paralysis in the past, reassure him/her that the experience is harmless, and to not be afraid.
Have you experienced any odd sleeping conditions? Share them in our comments section below.