Meditation and relaxation may help people suffering from sleep paralysis — research findings

By Team

A group of scientists from the universities of Cambridge, Bologna and Parma have published promising research results concerning people who suffer from sleep paralysis (SP). In particular, meditation-relaxation therapy has been shown to reduce the likelihood of SP.

We already talked about sleep paralysis in detail in the previous article. This sleep condition is characterized by muscle paralysis, groundless fear, and, in some cases, hallucinations. Most often it is triggered by lack of sleep, PTSD, narcolepsy or other mental disorders. In the above-mentioned study, 10 patients with narcolepsy, participating in the research, were using relaxation techniques in order to reduce the effects of sleep paralysis.

The therapy included the following:

  • reducing the significance of sleep paralysis by constant reminding that it is just a temporary condition that does not entail serious consequences for health, and the hallucinations that a person might experience are just a product of a half-asleep brain;
  • psychological and emotional distancing was aimed to minimise the fear and maintain the confidence that this temporary state will cause no harm; 
  • meditation was practised in order to redirect attention towards the one’s inner self and focus on an emotionally positive image or event;
  • muscle relaxation with no control over breathing and attempts to move was also introduced as a part of the therapy.

During the first month, participants were keeping a diary of sleep paralysis events, their duration and accompanying emotions. During this time, 65% of them reported at least one episode of accompanying hallucinations. Afterwards, the participants were introduced to the techniques and asked to practise them twice a week for 15 minutes in the course of eight weeks.

During the two months of therapy, the subjects of the study reported a significant decrease in the number of sleep paralysis episodes. The overall number of days when SP occurred reduced from 11 to 5.5, while the number of events declined from 14 to 6.5. The overall severity of the episodes also decreased, from 7.3 to 4.8, according to the rates that were assigned by the participants on a scale from 1 to 10.

On the contrary, a control group of four participants were practising breathing exercises instead of relaxation therapy throughout the research period. At the end of the study, it was shown that the overall number of days when the episodes of SP occurred at the beginning (4.5) and at the end (4.25) of the test period remained same. Moreover, the overall amount of SP episodes even slightly increased (from 4.5 to 5.25), as well as the intensity of the episodes (from 4 to 4.5).

The group leader Dr. B. Jalal is convinced that it is too early to draw conclusions as a limited amount of people participated in the research. However, he is confident about relaxation therapy being the right tool to address the problem. Overall, one can’t disagree that relaxation techniques are beneficial for the state of the mind and the body, and, fortunately, many of them can now be practised using mobile applications. The Hypnopedia app can be a great tool for relaxation and improving your sleep. It provides you with a variety of relaxing sounds and compositions, which allow to fall asleep quickly and create a calming atmosphere. Also, in the application, you can find affirmations for pumping your mental health. They are played during your sleep without waking you up and being “recorded” by your subconscious mind. Such motivational statements reproduced at night create new programs of behaviour and reactions to stressful situations. That’s why the effects of sleep meditations in the Hypnopedia app are long-term, and, by practising them regularly, you can improve all the aspects of your daily life. 

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Sleep Well-being Mindfullnes Self-awareness