Sleep Paralysis

Our body goes through various stages of sleep. In some cases, there is a feeling of not being able to move your body or speak anything in between a few stages. This usually happens when you are moving from one stage to another during sleep and it is called sleep paralysis. It can last for a couple of seconds or minutes and it does not cause any other problem. However, it can be a scary experience for many people and they are not comfortable with such conditions. In a few cases, people also feel that they are being choked by something and this can disturb the sleep. There is no proper treatment available for this condition and it will usually go away on its own without causing any damage.

Types of Sleep Paralysis

- predormital sleep paralysis : This condition is also known as hypnagogic and it usually happens when you are asleep. In this situation, the person suddenly becomes aware that he is not able to move the body and this happens in the middle of sleep. This can create panic for a few seconds and most people usually go back to sleep without any disturbance. Others, however, become frightened and they will have difficulty in sleeping later after the incident.

- postdormital sleep paralysis : This condition happens as you are waking up and you will suddenly notice that you are unable to speak and move your body. Our body goes through various stages of sleep and the REM phase where the dreams occur and the NREM phase where your body relaxes alternate in a normal healthy person. However, in some cases, when you are about to go into the REM phase from the NREM phase, you may suddenly become aware that you are not able to move your body and this condition is called Hypnopompic sleep paralysis.

Symptoms of Sleep Paralysis

-  The most common symptom of this condition is the inability of the body to move and you will also not be able to speak at this stage.

-  Many people clearly remember such episodes even after they wake up and this can be very frightening for a very long time.

-  Some people also have hallucinations after the episode and this can cause a lot of fear in their minds.

-  Another common experience is the pressure felt on the chest region and this can create panic when they are having an attack of sleep paralysis.

-  It is also common to experience the feeling of someone choking and this leads to difficulty in breathing. However, this may last only for a short duration and everything will become normal once this subsides after a few minutes. In some cases, the entire episode may last only for a few seconds and yet it can be a scary experience for people suffering from sleep paralysis.

-  Due to the fear caused by this condition, some people experience excessive sweating and also develop headaches and body pain after the episode.

-  It is common for people to feel the presence of abnormal creatures during this stage. However, this is due to hallucinations and it does not cause any harm in the long run.

Causes of Sleep Paralysis

Our body has a natural way of protecting itself during various stages of sleep. In this situation, the REM stage causes a lot of dreams and muscle movement is automatically turned off during this stage. This is done so that the body does not react to the various situations in dreams and it can hurt itself in the process. However, in the case of sleep paralysis, the person wakes up during this stage and comes to consciousness. But the muscle movement is still not restored completely and it is in this phase that sleep paralysis happens. When you notice that you are no longer able to move your body, you will panic and this causes various symptoms of sleep paralysis. In most cases, this period lasts for only a few seconds and in rare cases, it can go on for few minutes. It does no harm and the body comes back to its normal state after this period.

-  Sleep deprivation is said to be one of the reasons for this condition and it can trigger the onset of sleep paralysis in many individuals. However, you must understand that everyone who is deprived of sleep does not experience this condition and various other sleep disorders are said to be associated with this condition.

-  Some people suffer from narcolepsy that forces them to go to sleep at odd intervals. In this situation, the REM stage and the non REM stage can get out of sync and this can lead to sleep paralysis in many individuals.

-  You are also likely to suffer from this problem when you are not having enough sleep due to jet lag or a change in work timings. Many people notice such symptoms immediately after changing their shift timings at work and the symptoms are also common in most cases.

-  It is also said that depression and hypertension can also cause this condition in some individuals. The demons that you see during this stage has got to do with hallucinations and having a history of depression is likely to trigger such incidents at a regular interval during sleep.

-  If you are addicted to some drugs, it can cause sleep paralysis and you should avoid them to maintain your health in good condition. Remember that your overall mental health condition has got a major role to play in triggering this condition and you should pay attention to these factors in your life.

-  Even some medications taken for ADHD and other mental health conditions can trigger sleep paralysis in many individuals. However, there is no direct correlation between taking medication and getting this condition and it can only increase your chances of getting sleep paralysis when it is mixed with other symptoms.

Diagnosis of Sleep Paralysis

-  This condition does not call for a proper medical diagnosis and you can just have a regular consultation with your doctor when the symptoms are severe. If you are not able to lead a normal life due to this issue, you should consult your doctor and they will analyze any other mental disorder or sleep disorders that may be troubling your sleep. Apart from that, if you feel that this happens to you only once in a while, you need not worry too much about this condition as it does not cause any harm in the long run.

-  If you are serious about getting it diagnosed, you need to remember that this cannot happen over a single session and your doctor needs to understand your overall health condition to ascertain the cause of this problem. Along with this, you may be asked to provide details about the medication you are taking for other health issues as they may be triggering sleep paralysis in many cases. It makes sense to monitor your sleeping pattern for a few days so that you will be able to provide enough information to your doctor about your health condition. The best thing you can do is to maintain a sleep journal and include the situations under which this condition was triggered and the symptoms you felt during this phase. This is important as many people even forget what happened to them during sleep paralysis when they wake up in the morning. For this reason, it will give a clear insight to the doctor when you have a proper sleep journal.

-  When your symptoms are severe and this condition is happening to you frequently, you will be redirected to a sleep specialist. These professionals will analyze your sleeping pattern in the clinic and note down interesting details about your symptoms. After carefully analyzing your overall health condition, you may be given certain medication in some cases to reduce the anxiety and symptoms caused by this condition.

Prevention of Sleep Paralysis

-  There is no proven method to prevent sleep paralysis and all you can do is to try to have a healthy sleep cycle without any disturbance. When this improves, the symptoms automatically reduce and you will not be troubled during sleep.

-  It is also essential to manage your stress levels as they can trigger sleep paralysis in many individuals. This usually happens when your sleep is deprived due to jet lag or any other conditions.

-  Make sure that you take your sleep cycle seriously and get a good sleep for at least six hours as this will help your body to adjust to the workload in the morning hours.

-  You should also reduce your exposure to television and mobile phones after dinner as this will help you to sleep comfortably without any disturbance. Your mind will relax when you are away from such things and this will reduce the symptoms of sleep paralysis.

-  You should also make it a point to reduce the light in your surroundings after evening hours as this will prepare your brain to sleep peacefully at a later stage during the night.

-  You should also pay attention to your eating habits and avoid eating heavy dinner as this impacts the digestion process and your sleep will be disturbed due to these issues.

-  Consuming excess alcohol or coffee in evening hours can impact your sleep cycle and you should avoid them at this stage.

Treatment for Sleep Paralysis

-  To begin with, you need to understand that there is no need to get specific treatment for this health condition. Apart from that, remember that there is no specific treatment that cures this condition. You can only treat the underlying issues that may be causing sleep paralysis.

-  In this regard, the first step is to treat other depression as this can cause sleep paralysis in many people. Your doctor will carefully analyze your situation and see if you are suffering from any symptoms of depression. If this is the cause for your health condition, you may be prescribed few antidepressants and it will reduce your symptoms in future. The basic thing it does is to regulate your sleep cycle and you will feel more relaxed in this manner and this will avoid the symptoms of sleep paralysis and you will not have troubled sleep.

-  Other than this, the focus will be given to improving your sleeping habits and you need to do everything that will help you to get a good sleep for many hours without any disturbance. For this, you may have to make suitable changes to your lifestyle and avoid certain things that will distract your sleep. Also eating healthy food plays a major role in improving the quality of your sleep and the chances of getting sleep paralysis or any other sleep disorder reduce by a huge margin.

-  If you are suffering from narcolepsy, you will not be able to have a proper sleep cycle that has a decent duration of REM sleep. You are likely to wake up at odd intervals and this can trigger sleep paralysis in most conditions. For this reason, emphasis will be given to treating this condition. Other than that, even having leg cramps when you are sleeping can trigger such conditions and you need to take proper medication to get relief from this problem.

-  In the same manner, having any mental disorder can also spoil your sleep cycle and you will be prone to getting sleep paralysis on a regular basis. In this situation, treating such health conditions will naturally reduce the symptoms and help you to have a relaxed sleep.


If you are having irregular sleeping patterns, you are likely to experience this condition once in a while. There is no need to worry about this and you will not be able to avoid this by taking any treatment. In fact, there is no specific method to treat this condition and you should pay attention to improving the overall quality of your sleep. In this way, you will be able to avoid sleep paralysis in the future. Even when it happens, you need to remember that it does not cause any harm to your body or mind in the long run. You should not panic and make a huge issue out of it as this will usually subside when you have a healthy sleeping cycle in the future.

Last updated on : 14-09-2018

Disclaimer : Docprime doesn’t endorse or take any guarantee of the accuracy or completeness of information provided under this article and these are the views strictly of the writer. Docprime shall not be held responsible for any aspect of healthcare services administered with the information provided on this article.

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