If you suffer from sleep disturbances or experience unusual sleep patterns, you may have sleep apnea or sleep paralysis. Both conditions cause different things to happen when the body is at rest, but there are also some similarities between them. By learning the differences and similarities between sleep apnea and sleep paralysis, you and your doctor can formulate a better treatment plan that addresses your specific concerns.
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What Is Sleep Apnea?
If you wake up suddenly and find yourself gasping for air frequently, you’re likely suffering from a form of sleep apnea. This condition causes disruptions in breathing patterns during sleep and may cause you to stop breathing several times throughout the night. You might not even be aware that you have sleep apnea if the breathing disruptions aren’t enough to awaken you to full consciousness, but you may feel tired even after sleeping for a long period. Frequent snoring is another symptom of sleep apnea.
There are different forms of sleep apnea, but treatments are often similar. Most cases of sleep apnea are classified as obstructive sleep apnea, which occurs when muscles in the throat relax too much during sleep and block the airway. If problems with brain signals control breathing, you may be diagnosed with central sleep apnea. Some people also have a combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea, which is often classified as complex sleep apnea syndrome.
Causes Of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea can occur for various reasons, but older men are more likely to suffer. Other common sleep apnea causes include being overweight, consuming alcohol and having a family history of the condition. Antihistamines, opiates and other medications have also been linked to sleep apnea. In addition, your chances of developing sleep apnea may be greater if you have a heart or neurological condition.
What Is Sleep Paralysis?
A person is said to have sleep paralysis when they are conscious of their surroundings while falling asleep or waking up but unable to speak or move. You’ll likely be classified as having hypnagogic or predormital sleep paralysis if the condition occurs while you’re falling asleep. Or hypnopompic or postdormital sleep paralysis if you experience it while awakening. While you’re in a state of sleep paralysis, you may also experience auditory or visual hallucinations or a sense of floating or being outside of your body.
Causes Of Sleep Paralysis
Your genetics could cause your sleep paralysis, but the condition can also develop if you change your sleeping times regularly. Sleep paralysis often occurs more frequently among people who sleep on their backs. For example, a mental health condition, such as anxiety or bipolar disorder, or the frequent use of drugs, alcohol or certain prescription medicines can also make you more susceptible to sleep paralysis. If you have a sleep disorder known as narcolepsy, you may be likely to experience sleep paralysis.
Similarities Between Sleep Apnea And Sleep Paralysis
Whether you experience one or both conditions, sleep apnea and sleep paralysis have similarities in the ways they manifest and their associated symptoms. Having one condition can increase your chances of developing the other. During an episode of sleep paralysis, you may feel like you’re having trouble breathing in a way similar to sleep apnea. Studies have shown that poor sleeping habits due to sleep apnea may increase a person’s chances of developing sleep paralysis. Certain genetic factors and lifestyle habits, such as using some medications or drugs, can also put you at greater risk for developing both conditions.
Since sleep apnea and sleep paralysis are separate conditions, treatment options for each can vary. For example, suppose your sleep apnea can be treated successfully with medication, an oral appliance or the use of a CPAP machine. In that case, your sleep paralysis may also go away if you also have this condition. Sleep apnea and sleep paralysis can also sometimes be treated simultaneously if another disorder causing the conditions is treated. Additional mental health counseling is sometimes needed to treat sleep paralysis.
Each of these conditions can take a toll on your physical and mental health if left untreated. For example, if you believe you’re suffering from sleep apnea, sleep paralysis or both disorders, a qualified medical professional can suggest treatments that may help you sleep better.