Coping with Sleep Paralysis

Sleep paralysis is a trick our mind plays on us which causes a state of complete muscle weakness where people are paralyzed at the onset of sleep or upon waking. Your mind is mentally awake, but you are physically asleep and paralyzed. It is a disorienting condition that can also cause terrifying hallucinations.

The effects of sleep paralysis are often associated with other symptoms such a sense of suffocation, decreased heart rate, or the presence of an evil person in the room.

While all of these symptoms sound terrifying, sleep paralysis is not dangerous and is an ordinary human condition. It’s a protection mechanism which prevents us from acting out our dreams as we sleep.

It’s important to learn to recognize the symptoms of sleep paralysis. It affects people in many different ways but some commonalities that people experience include:

Nightmare, Linda Braucht (20th C. American), Computer Graphics

  • An inability to move your limbs at the beginning of sleep or upon waking
  • Brief episodes of partial or complete skeletal paralysis
  • Visual and auditory hallucinations (people often sense an evil presence, feel a phantom touch, or hear an unidentifiable noise in the room)
  • A sense of breathlessness or chest pressure
  • Confusion
  • Helplessness
  • Fear

If you feel that you are experiencing sleep paralysis, try focusing on body movement. You may find that you are able to move a part of your body to force yourself to a fully waking state. Focusing on and controlling your breathing can be an excellent relaxation technique and learning some breathing techniques in advance may help you regain control during a sleep paralysis episode.

Alternate Sleep Cycles

457515745-small

Most people believe that there is only one way to sleep: go to sleep at night for 6-8 hours, wake up in the morning, stay awake for 16-18 hours and then repeat. This is called a monophasic sleep cycle, which is actually 1 of 5 major sleep cycles used throughout history. The other 4 cycles are considered “polyphasic sleep cycles” because they require multiple naps to be taken throughout the day.

The most important part of every sleep cycle is the Stage 4 REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which provides the benefits of sleeping the brain needs above all other stages. When changing over to a polyphasic cycle, the lack of sleep tricks the body into entering REM sleep immediately, instead of approximately an hour later like in monophasic sleep.

Uberman Cycle

The Uberman Cycles requires 20-30 naps every 4 hours, resulting in 6 naps each day. This cycle is highly efficient and usually results in feeling healthy and refreshed. Many Uberman-users report increased ability to lucid dream as well. Because this schedule is so rigid, it’s impossible to miss naps without feeling extremely tired.

Everyman Cycle

This cycle has one longer “core” nap that is supplemented with several 20-30 minute naps. The most successful cycles can include one 3 hour nap and three 20-minute naps or one 1.5 hour nap with four or five  20-minute naps. This cycle is easier to adjust to than the Uberman, and allows for more flexibility in nap times and in skipping naps when necessary.

Dymaxion Cycle

This cycle was invented by Bucky Fuller based on his belief that we all have two energy tanks: the first is easy to replenish whereas the second tank (second wind) is much harder to replenish. He began sleeping for 30 minutes every 6 hours (only 2 hours of sleep a day!) and reported feeling “the most vigorous and alter condition I have ever enjoyed.” This is by far the most extreme of the 4 polyphasic sleep cycles, but also the most efficient.

450745235-small

Biphasic/Siesta Cycle

The biphasic cycle consists of sleeping for 4-4.5 hours a night, and then taking a 90 minute nap around noon. It’s not very different from the monophasic sleep cycle, but still more efficient.

If you’re considering switching to an alternate sleep cycles, eating healthy meals and avoiding fatty foods can make the adjustment much easier. It’s also a good idea to ask your doctor before switching to an alternate sleep cycle. Make sure you have 2-3 hours of freedom to adjust to the cycle so work or school are not affected by the change.

Foods That Affect Your Sleep

152024457-small We’ve always heard that you shouldn’t eat after a certain time of the day because it can cause weight gain. Although this was ever proven to be true, the food you eat before you go to bed can have positive or negatives affects on how you sleep that night.

Best Foods before Bed

Cherries – Cherries are one of the few natural foods to contain melatonin, the chemical that helps control our body’s internal clock. One study has found that drinking tart cherry juice resulted in small improvements in sleep duration and quality in adults who suffered from chronic insomnia.

Milk – Dairy foods contain tryptophan, which is a sleep-promoting substance. Other foods that are high in tryptophan include nuts, bananas, honey and eggs.

Jasmine Rice – This rice ranks high on the glycemic index, which means the body digests it slowly, releasing glucose gradually into the bloodstream. A 2007 study showed that eating jasmine rice four hours before bedtime cut the amount of time it took to fall asleep in half.

468454291-small

Sweet Potato – Sweet potatoes are a sleepers dream. Not only do they provide sleep-promoting complex carbohydrates, but they also contain potassium, a muscle-relaxant. Other good sources of potassium include regular potatoes (bake with the skin on), lima beans and papaya.

Worst Foods before Bed

Bacon Cheeseburger – The fat content of this particular fast food is a sleep killer. Fat stimulates the production of acid in the stomach, which can spill up to your esophagus, causing heartburn.

Wine – Alcohol of any kind is bad for sleep. It metabolizes quickly and causes you to wake up multiple times during the night.

Coffee – Coffee contains caffeine which is a stimulant. Drinking coffee too close to bedtime will keep you up at night.

Dark chocolate – Chocolate contains not only calories, but caffeine as well. A Hershey’s special-dark bar has 20 milligrams of caffeine, about the same as half an ounce of espresso. Chocolate also contains theobromine, another stimulant that can increase heart rate and sleeplessness.

Checking For Bedbugs

163858788-small

These days, bedbugs can be found everywhere, even in 5-star hotel rooms and can be easily carried out in your luggage, souvenirs or in your children’s toys. It’s very important to know how to check for bedbugs when you stay in a hotel, when you suspect they may be in your home or when you are considering buying used furniture.

Checking for bedbugs in your hotel room should be the first thing you do once you check-in into your room. Be sure to place your luggage and other belongings in a clean bathtub or on a rolling luggage rack that is off the floor and away from walls or furniture while examining your room.

Start by inspecting the bed linen. Remove all bedding down to the bottom sheet. If necessary, use a flashlight to help look for excrement or bloodstains on the sheets. After you’ve checked the sheets, continue to the mattress. Look for excrement, blood stains, bedbug skins and eggs on the top surface of the mattress.

Use a credit card to run along the mattress seam, holding it open to look with your flashlight. Make sure to also check all buttons, straps and tags as well.

469594911-small

Once you’ve checked the surface of the mattress, flip it so you can to check the other side. Watch for fleeing bugs as you do. While the mattress is in the air, check the rails of the frame under it.

Once you’ve checked the mattress, move the bed away from the wall and quickly shine your flashlight on the wall behind, and if necessary, headboard behind it.

It’s also important to check all other furniture in the room as thoroughly as you did the mattress, using a flashlight and credit card.

It is important to be as thorough as possible when checking for bedbugs. Once they find themselves a home in your suitcases, clothing, personal items and eventually your home, it’s very difficult to completely get rid of them and often require treatment by a pest control expert.

The pest control expert may recommend forms of deep cleaning such as scrubbing infested surfaces with a stiff brush to remove eggs and dismantling bed frames and furniture, filling cracks in floors, walls and moldings.

Keeping Your Mattress Clean & Protected

Keeping your mattress clean is important for extending its life and maintaining a comfortable sleeping atmosphere. We spend approximately a third of our lives sleeping, so why not make the space as clean and comfortable as possible? With just a few simple steps your mattress will stay fresh for a long time!

Buy a Mattress Cover

Many mattress covers are inexpensive and are good for two things: protecting from any spills and it helps keep any dust mites and allergens from taking up residence deep in your mattress.

Air It Out

Whenever possible, get your mattress outside for some fresh air. You can even open the windows and pull back the curtains to let the sun shine directly on the mattress with the sheets pulled back. Airing out a mattress helps dislodge lingering odors, while the sunlight serves as a natural disinfectant.

78717731-small

Rotate Every 6 Months

To provide even wear, flip the mattress so the top is now the bottom and turn it so the foot of the mattress is now the head.

Pull Out the Vacuum

Vacuuming your mattress every once in a while can not only help clean the mattress,  and remove some mites that may be lingering on the surface of your mattress. Plus, it will pull up any food particles than these little pests can feed on.

Freshen it up

Baking soda is good for a lot of uses around the home and works great for freshening up your bed. It can help eliminate any odors and leave behind a pleasant freshness. During your next regular sheet change, remove the sheets including your mattress cover and sprinkle baking soda over the top of the mattress. Allow the baking soda to sit for a few hours and then vacuum thoroughly. You can even mix it up by adding some of your own favorite relaxing scents like dried lavender or vanilla on top of the baking soda.