Experts reveal why Covid may trigger a rise in sleep paralysis

Last year many of us started having intense and longer lasting dreams because of staying home for days during the pandemic because of lack of stimulation.

Experts found that two-thirds of us had “unusually vivid” dreams, and with Covid cases on the rise again, it’s no surprise that social media is inundated with reports of similar nightmares.

But among these reports are increasing stories of Covid causing sleep paralysis – the temporary inability to move or speak while hallucinations occur just before a person nods off or on waking up.

Social media users have reported the phenomenon, which occurs because your brain is active while your body is still in sleep mode, and which occurs for the first time after contracting Covid.

Sleep therapy expert Dr. Kat Lederle, Dr. Greg Potter and Hussain Abdeh, clinical director at Medicine Direct, told FEMAIL why both stress and viral infections could be a cause of the increase.

Sleep therapy experts told FEMAIL why both stress and viral infections could be a cause of the increase in sleep paralysis. Image from a picture agency

WHAT IS SLEEP PARALYSIS?

“Sleep paralysis is the inability to move your body while you are awake when you transition into or out of REM sleep,” said sleep expert Dr. Potter.

“REM sleep is when you have your vividest dreams, and to keep you from living those dreams, your brain cripples most of your muscles except for your heart and the ones you use to breathe. Sleep paralysis occurs when this muscle paralysis persists into the waking state.

“Episodes can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes and are not inherently dangerous, but they can be very scary. The scariest episodes tend to involve hallucinations (sights, sounds, or emotions) that are likely to occur in some areas of the brain due to continued dream-like activity

Experts Reveal Why Covid May Trigger A Rise In Sleep Paralysis Experts Reveal Why Covid May Trigger A Rise In Sleep Paralysis Experts Reveal Why Covid May Trigger A Rise In Sleep Paralysis Experts Reveal Why Covid May Trigger A Rise In Sleep Paralysis Experts Reveal Why Covid May Trigger A Rise In Sleep Paralysis Several social media users have reported the phenomenon, which occurs because your brain is active while your body is still in sleep mode, and which occurs for the first time after contracting Covid - Experts Reveal Why Covid May Trigger A Rise In Sleep Paralysis

Several social media users have reported the phenomenon, which occurs because your brain is active while your body is still in sleep mode, and which occurs for the first time after contracting Covid

WHAT CAUSES SLEEP PARALYSIS?

Hussain explained that while the exact cause of sleep paralysis is not clear, the phenomenon is due to your brain being active while your body is still in sleep mode

Dr. Lederle went on to explain, adding, “What seems to be happening is that the normal REM sleep muscle atonia, which prevents us from living out our dreams during this sleep phase, invades wakefulness and makes you incapable for a few moments. to move or speak. ”

Dr. Potter added, “People with sleep paralysis usually have their first seizure in their teens. It is also relatively in young adults and a little less later in life.

“Episodes seem to be triggered by insufficient or irregular sleep, mental health problems (e.g. PTSD) or mental stress, and some medications. Sleep paralysis can also be due to narcolepsy, a sleep disorder characterized by high daytime sleepiness, irregular sleep-wake cycles, and sudden loss of muscle activity while awake. ‘

Two-thirds of Britons had vivid dreams thanks to “longer and deeper” sleep during lockdown

Brits had vivid dreams thanks to “longer, deeper” sleep amid the nationwide coronavirus lockdown, experts announced last year.

The study, conducted by researchers from King’s College London and Ipsos Mori, also found that just over a third of 2,300 respondents had experienced less sleep and reckless nights, the Sunday Times reported.

According to Professor Bobby Duffy, director of the Policy Institute at King’s College, those sleepless nights were in many cases caused by financial worries.

Russell Foster, the director of the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute in Oxford, added that he had received reports of people having unusually vivid dreams amid the coronavirus crisis.

“Most workers in our 24/7 society do not get enough sleep, which means that most of us are normally sleep deprived,” he said. “It is interesting that now it may be reversed.”

“Many of us now seem to be populating our dreams with images from the current crisis, such as Boris being infected.

“Because we sleep longer and deeper, we have more vivid dreams and remember them better.”

MIGHT COVID CAUSE AN INCREASE?

Dr. Lederle explained that while there are no scientific studies examining this in normal sleepers, Covid is a possible reason for an increase in sleep paralysis – especially the stress in increasing cases.

“It could be that the viral infection itself is affecting sleep regulation in the brain (neurological effects of Covid have been reported),” she said.

“But I think the more likely that should sleep paralysis increase, it is because of the stress arising from the big changes in the way we currently live our lives, the insecurity and we face “affect our sleep system.”

Hussain added, “Research on patients with narcolepsy found that they had an increase in sleep paralysis during Covid, which may be due to changes in their routines and sleep patterns.

“Several studies have also reported an increase in nightmares, insomnia and stressful dreams due to the pandemic. Since a link has been found between these conditions and sleep paralysis, it is possible that Covid caused an increase.

Dr. Potter agreed that little research has been done into the effects of Covid on the disease, but there is anecdotal evidence to back it up.

“If there is a link between COVID and sleep paralysis, it could be because the COVID pandemic has caused a great deal of mental stress in many people and has made sleep schedules for a minority of us less regular,” he said. “It could also be that some people with long-term COVID experience sleep paralysis, but that’s hard to tell right now.

HOW TO AVOID SLEEP PARALYSIS?

“The most important thing is to get enough sleep every night,” explained Hussain. “You should do what you can to get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night.

“You can make this more likely by going to bed and waking up at about the same time each day. This will put your body into a routine that will make it easier for your circadian to recognize when it is time to rest.

“Getting plenty of exercise during the day, but not in the 4 hours before bed, can help you feel tired and sleep longer.

“Try not to sleep on your back; This can reduce the chance of sleep paralysis. You should also avoid consuming caffeine or alcohol before bed. Also, do not smoke or eat a large meal in the hours before bed.

“If the problem occurs more than once and you are afraid or afraid of falling asleep, you should speak to your doctor. This is also the case if you constantly feel tired because you cannot sleep properly. “

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