Re: Sleep paralysis without narcolepsy
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Posted by ccf neuro M.D. on May 08, 1997 at 17:33:23:
In Reply to: Sleep paralysis without narcolepsy posted by Kimberly Roylance on May 02, 1997 at 05:07:39:
: I've experienced incidents of sleep paralysis immediately upon awakening 2-3 times per week for the past 6-8 weeks. Doctor did not seem concerned, but I find no information regarding cause/treatement/outcome of this when not associated with narcolepsy. It seems more likely to occur with several nights of sleep deprivation.
Kimberly, The phenomenon of isolated sleep paralysis is actually quite common, occurring with as high a frequency as 20% of all normal people at least once during their lifetimes. It tends to run in families and is most often triggered by stress, sleep deprivation, or frequent awakening/disturbed sleep. Experimentally, you can even cause this to happen to a normal person by disturbing their sleep in at certain specific points. Although rarely associated with nighttime seizures and more frequently associated with panic disorder and other anxiety disorders, most often it occurs alone. As you know, if one also experiences attacks of sudden sleep and sudden loss of all muscle tone causing one to fall while awake (cataplexy), then the diagnosis is changed to narcolepsy. In reviewing the medical literature on your behalf, there are several reports of highly successful (complete remission) of isolated sleep paralysis with the so-called selective seretonin reuptake inhibitor drugs (SSRIs). Examples of these include
Prozac (fluoxitine), Zoloft (sertraline), and Paxil (paroxitine). Of these, only reports of successful use of Prozac appear in the medical literature, but there is no reason to believe that other drugs in the same class would not also help. The tricyclic antidepressant class of medications can also be used for this problem, but have more side effects and are generally less effective. I would suggest that you see a neurologist to be certain that you do not have any other associated neurologic disease or sleep disorder apart from the sleep paralysis. Provided that this is not the case, you could tentatively consider proceeding with appropriate treatment. I hope you find this information useful. If you would be interested in an evaluation at the Cleveland Clinic Sleep Disorders Center, you may call 1-800-223-2273 and ask to be connected to the center, or alternatively to the department of neurology appointment desk (ext 45559).