How to prevent sleep paralysis
Some people say that trying to wiggle their fingers or toes shortens the time that they feel trapped. You can also try holding your breath.
Sleep paralysis often seems to come in waves. To prevent a recurrence, the first step is to rule out medical conditions that may be interfering with your sleep. Ask your doctor to reevaluate your medications.
You’ll need to adopt good sleep hygiene and minimize interruptions. When scientists tried to figure out how to induce sleep paralysis, they succeeded by waking up volunteers as soon as they entered rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep. Block out light and noise. Make sure your phone is off, your pets aren’t going to jump on you, and your partner isn’t snoring. If you sleep on your back normally, try a different position. You might also try a meditation exercise before you go to bed or other remedies for anxiety. If you know you have anxiety, PTSD or panic disorder, think about whether you need to do more to address the larger problem.
For a detailed scholarly account that includes remedies, read “Sleep Paralysis: Historical, Psychological, and Medical Perspectives.”
If you find dreams fascinating, you might be interested in learning a technique called “lucid dreaming,” in which you can consciously manipulate your dreams. People with sleep paralysis may be better able to master this technique.
April 08, 2020
Christopher Nystuen, MD, MBA