Kendall Jenner brings scary condition to the forefront

Kendall Jenner brings scary condition to the forefront

Have you ever heard of sleep paralysis? If you’re a fan of the reality show Keeping Up With the Kardashians, the issue was brought to the forefront on a recent episode focused on Kendall Jenner.

The reality star and model revealed this month that she’s afraid to fall asleep. She explained that she wakes up in the middle of the night, and while her mind is awake, she can’t move her body. On the show, she described the events: “I’m freaking out because recently I wake up in the middle of the night and I can’t move,” Kendall said.

So what is sleep paralysis, and what causes it?

“Isolated sleep paralysis is essentially rapid eye movement (REM) sleep intruding into wakefulness,” says Matt Balog, a pediatric clinical sleep educator at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill. “During REM sleep, most of our muscles become paralyzed. This temporary paralyzed state is a good thing, as having the ability to move during REM sleep can cause physical injury to you or your partner. But an episode of isolated sleep paralysis can be extremely frightening, as a person cannot move, and some accessory breathing muscles may still be paralyzed so breathing is more difficult than usual, as well.”

Balog also says these episodes may include some auditory and visual hallucinations. But the hallucinations are products of REM sleep and not generally a sign of any psychiatric disorder.

Balog says sleep paralysis is actually common in the general population. One systematic review found that 7.6 percent of individuals experience sleep paralysis at one time or another. The rates are higher for students; 28.3 percent of them have had sleep paralysis at some point.

And other research has revealed that for young adults who have an anxiety disorder, 20 percent may experience an isolated episode.

So what can someone experiencing sleep paralysis do?

“In most cases, isolated sleep paralysis is provoked by fragmented sleep, sleep deprivation, excessive sleepiness, stress, an irregular sleep-wake schedule or as a result of another sleep disorder,” says Balog.

Because of this, it can be helpful for someone who experiences an episode to examine their sleep habits. “Basic sleep hygiene and relaxation techniques can help lessen the frequency of these events,” he advises.

Balog says generally speaking, someone should not be concerned if they have experienced an episode or two of sleep paralysis. But if the episodes are happening frequently and are accompanied by auditory or visual hallucinations on a regular basis, you should see a sleep professional.

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  1. The fastest way to get me to unsubscribe is by sending informative health issues starting with the title involving Kendall Jenner, anyone remotely related to the Kardashians, or any other star for that matter.

    Also, the description is very clickbait-y.

    I like reading AHC, but come on – just this article alone gives off the buzzfeed/Yahoo News feel.

    • Jackie Hughes

      Hi Joseph, thank you for your comments. While I understand that the Kardashians, other reality tv stars and many actors will always bring about mixed reactions from subscribers, the goal of our site is to take news and headlines in the media and have our experts give their thoughts, opinions, recommendations and share pertinent information. In this instance, sleep paralysis is a very real and scary condition that is common in the general population. While the media stories surrounding her revelation spurred the story, I believe the topic is a relevant one. I hope you will continue to read Advocate health enews and appreciate your feedback. Thank you for reading.

    • I wanted to respond to this for a couple reasons. First, I think Joseph’s criticism is not really a suggestion that he will stop reading these articles but a commentary on the relative prominence of pop culture and celebrities in the news. I think he made this commentary in a funny way… at least it made me smile. I think that was the point. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong.
      Second, because I have experience this phenomenon. It is rather frightening… I remember being awake enough to know that I was dreaming about suffocating or drowning but I also knew that I was not breathing in real life. Usually my mind would tell me it was because my face was pressed against the pillow or into a couch cushion and that was the reason my breathing was obstructed. I would know that all I have to do to solve my problem and breathe is to role over but I wasn’t able to do it. You wake up from experiences like that hyperventilating because you believe that you were going to die. Up until now I believed that I had experienced sleep apnea but since symptoms didn’t persist I didn’t worry about it. So, it was interesting reading about the condition. It is, however, clickbait-y because I feel like everyone wants to see something bad happen to the family. They are on tv and are public figures for no real reason and they are embarrassing.

  2. Sorry Joseph and Walker my brother isn’t on TV and he has REM. Went to doctor for sleep disorders and now on medicine to help him. Since starting his REM is better. Don’t close your mind just because you never heard of something.7

  3. How strange to see this article today as I was just thinking yesterday that it’s been years since I’ve had an episode of sleep paralysis. I never knew what it was although I suspected it was some sort of semi-awake experience. I never was treated for it and it obviously went away on its own. The hallucinations were rather frightening; I would hear people coming into the house, but I couldn’t move to defend myself.

  4. Like Joseph and Walker, I actively avoid anything to do with the Kardashians. Because of that, I almost didn’t read this article. Rather than using a click-bait technique, you may need to work on more creative headlining.

  5. Very interesting article. I have never heard of sleep paralysis and due to your catchy title, I opened the link. In our sleep deprived and stressful society, it is definitely good to be educated on this frightening sleep state.

  6. The fact that I do watch the Kardashians I was even more interested in reading this article. The fact that it it doesnt matter who you are and that yes even people in the media/liked or not, suffer some of the same medical issues as others, I think is very enlightning and this article should be commended verses criticised. Geez people. Keep up the good work informing us. The judgemental comments reflect on those writing them and not on you. ✌

  7. This is scary and it happens to me a lot. I worked night shift and im sleep deprived. If this sleep paralysis attacks, you cant do anything but pray. You want to move but you cant, your mind is awake and but you cant do anything..
    This is scary.

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About the Author

Jackie Hughes
Jackie Hughes

Jacqueline Hughes is a former manager, media relations at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. Previously, she was the public affairs and marketing manager at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, IL. She earned her BA in psychology at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. Jackie has 10 plus years experience working in television and media and most recently worked at NBC 5 in Chicago. In her free time, she enjoys swimming, going to the movies and spending time with her family.