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Sleep Seizure or Sleep Paralysis?
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Sleep Seizure or Sleep Paralysis?

My husband told me last night the for the past couple nights he has experienced the following:  As he fell asleep, he felt a pop in his ears and then he couldn't move.  Said he felt paralyized and then his body trembled before he snapped out of it.  He said he thought it only lasted a few seconds.  He also mentioned "blowing spit bubbles" that were mucus-like.  Said he had some difficulty breathing.  He also seemed to be aware of everything that was happening.

He said this happened once about 2-3 years ago.  He did not have an episode last night but did for the two nights prior.  The night before, he felt it coming on about four times and he said if he moved it would make it go away.  

I'm concerned that he is either experiencing sleep paralysis or a seizure.  Is a person aware that a seizure is happening to them?  He had an aunt with epilepsy that died in her sleep.  This concerns me.

I know he needs to see a doctor, but can you offer any insight or advice as what this could be?

Thank you so much.
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Avatar_n_tn
I agree with your thoughts.  It certainly does sound like it could represent sleep paralysis (he's aware, but can't move) or what;s known as a complex partial seizure. Patients can sometimes tell when they're about to have a seizure, but then awareness becomes somewhat impaired and they cannot interact appropriately with their environment during the event. He will need a neurological evaluation and a routine EEG to start out with.  Depending on what is found, more extensive studies may be needed such as an overnight sleep study or prolonged video EEG monitoring.
As for your concerns about his aunt, sudden death in epilepsy is more associated with the "grand mal" seizures or generalized tonic clonic seizures. These are manifest as all out, sometimes quite violent shaking of all the limbs and complete loss of consciousness, sometimes accompanied by tongue biting or loss of urine/stool control.  And it's these seizures rather than complex partial seizures that are more linked to sudden death. Hope that helps.
4 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
That sounds almost EXACTLY like the auras I used to get. I could move though, but I also felt something similiar to a "pop" in my ear, then the room would turn fuzzy and all the voices would become heightened.
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Avatar_n_tn
I have had similar experiences myself on an occasional basis (once or twice a year) for the past 10 years.  I'm lying in bed and not quite fully asleep when suddenly I can't move, and my heart starts racing and I start breathing heavier.  I feel panic and I hear everything louder, even little sounds like the air conditioner and my own breathing become deafening.  I instinctively fight the feeling and eventually I come out of it after what seems like a few seconds.  It always has happened when I'm alone, and I just feel helpless.  I can't tie it to any particular lifestyle habits (eating or drinking something or not getting enough sleep), and it comes on without warning.  I talked about it with my doctor, but since I don't know what brings it on, and its so infrequent, I somehow think that testing for it will be useless.  After all, most of the time, I sleep fine.  I'm relieved to hear that at least I'm not crazy or something...
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Avatar_n_tn
I've been diagnosed with CFS, Fibromyalgia, epilepsy, Bells Palsy, I have a hemangioma in my rt temple, and a small scar from unknown origin in my left temple (the source of the seizures), and a whole host of other problems.

In the last three years I've had five episodes of what my neurologist calls "fugues" where I collapse while fully concious and can't move for 15 or 20 minutes.  I can usually move my eyes and right fingers, so my husband knows a "finger wiggle" means, "I'm ok, leave me alone".  Then I get up and fall into bed exhausted for 12 to 24 hours.  This doesn't feel the same as a petite mal seizure (which I still sometimes have).

Yesterday I awoke from nap from a very "active" dream to find I was in a state of what I thought was sleep paralysis (something else I often have).  Again, I was fully concious and could see, but couldn't move or talk.  My voice returned within a few minutes and I called for my husband.  I was VERY thick-tongued and had a hard time constructing sentences.  He stuck me with a pin all over, to find I could feel pressure everywhere, but pain only in the right side of my face.  Because of my past "fugues" I didn't panic.

Gradually over a period of about an hour I was able to move, with sensation coming back starting with fingers and toes and moving upward.  There was tingling up my spine and the back of my legs during this period.  Afterward I was clumsy and weak all day, but I'm fine today.

Has anybody else experienced something like this, and do you know what it would be called?
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