Sleep paralysis is a temporary inability to move or speak that happens when you’re waking up or, less commonly, falling asleep. Although you’re awake, your body is briefly paralysed, after which you can move and speak as normal. The paralysis can last from a few seconds to several minutes.

Sleep paralysis doesn’t cause you any harm, but being unable to move can be very frightening. Over many centuries, symptoms of sleep paralysis have been described in many ways and often attributed to an “evil” presence: unseen night demons. People often describe the feeling of somebody/something watching over them (and sometimes walking towards them) as they cannot move.

What causes sleep paralysis?

Sleep paralysis can sometimes be a symptom of narcolepsy. This is a relatively rare sleep disorder, which causes severe disruption to the sleep-wake cycle. An inability to stay awake for more than three or four hours is usually the main symptom.

Other things that increase your risk of getting sleep paralysis include:

  • sleep deprivation
  • irregular sleeping patterns
  • age – it’s more common in teenagers and young adults

How to treat sleep paralysis:

The symptoms of sleep paralysis can often be improved by altering your sleep habits and sleeping environment. Sleep paralysis often affects people who are sleep deprived, so ensuring you get enough sleep may reduce the number of episodes you have. Most adults need six to eight hours of good quality sleep each night. Going to bed at roughly the same time each night and getting up at the same time each morning may also help.

If sleep paralysis is an ongoing struggle then it may be time to go and talk to your local GP, they will be able to offer you counselling sessions and even refer you to a neurologist who may have the answers to your sleep paralysis nightmares.

Scabies is a contagious skin condition caused by tiny mites that burrow into the skin.

The main symptom of scabies is intense itching that’s worse at night. It also causes a skin rash on areas where the mites have burrowed. Scabies like warm places, such as skin folds, between the fingers, under fingernails, or around the buttock or breast creases. They can also hide under watch straps, bracelets or rings.

Scabies is usually spread through prolonged periods of skin-to-skin contact with an infected person, or through sexual contact. It’s also possible – but rare – for scabies to be passed on by sharing clothing, towels and bedding with someone who’s infected. It can take up to eight weeks for the symptoms of scabies to appear after the initial infection. This is known as the incubation period.

How common is scabies?

Scabies is common. In the UK, about 1 in 1,000 people develop scabies each month. Scabies is more common in town (urban) areas, in women and children, in the winter, and in the North of the country.

How to treat scabies:

Visit your GP if you think you have scabies. It’s not usually a serious condition, but it does need to be treated. Scabies is curable. The usual scabies treatment is with permethrin cream. Permethrin is an insecticide that kills the mites. This is known to be the treatment that works the best. If permethrin cannot be used, an alternative is to use a lotion called malathion liquid.

Complications of scabies:

Scabies can sometimes lead to a secondary skin infection if your skin becomes irritated and inflamed through excessive itching. Crusted scabies is a rare but more severe form of scabies, where a large number of mites are in the skin. This can develop in older people and those with a lowered immunity.