Sleep Paralysis Causes, Prevention, Symptoms & Treatment


The majority of the time, sleep paralysis is only a symptom that your body is not passing through the stages of sleep smoothly, according to sleep experts. Rarely are serious underlying psychological issues associated with sleep paralysis.

Sleep paralysis symptoms have been variously documented throughout history and frequently linked to an "evil" force, such as ancient night demons, the old hag from Romeo and Juliet, and extraterrestrial abductors. Throughout history, tales of ominous malevolent monsters who terrorize defenseless people at night have existed in almost every society. Humans have been looking for reasons for this enigmatic paralysis during sleep and the accompanying sensations of panic for a very long time.

The sensation of being awake but immobile during sleep. It happens when a person transitions between the awake and asleep states. You could be immobile or mute throughout these changes for a brief moment to many minutes. Others could experience pressure or a feeling of choking. Other sleep disorders like narcolepsy may also be accompanied by sleep paralysis. The overwhelming need to sleep that characterizes narcolepsy is brought on by a malfunction in the brain's capacity to control sleep.

One of two periods is often when sleep paralysis happens. It is known as hypnagogic or preorbital sleep paralysis if it happens as you are about to fall asleep. If it happens while you are waking up, it is known as hypnopompic or post dormital sleep paralysis.

Your body snoozes as you progressively ease up. You lose awareness and fail to notice the shift. When drifting off to sleep, you could discover that you are unable to move or communicate.

It is possible that up to four out of every ten persons have sleep paralysis. Teenage years are frequently when this prevalent ailment is first detected. Nonetheless, both sexes, regardless of age, can have it. It is possible that sleep paralysis is inherited. In addition, the following things might contribute to sleep paralysis:

  • Lacking sleep
  • Erratic sleeping patterns
  • Mental illnesses like stress or bipolar disorder
  • Lying on the back to sleep
  • Other issues with sleep, include narcolepsy or nightly leg cramps
  • Using certain drugs, such as those for ADHD
  • Abuse of drugs


When you can not move your muscles when you are waking up or dozing off, you have sleep paralysis. You are in sleep mode, but your brain is still working.

Although the causes of sleep paralysis are unclear, they include:

  • Due to shift work or jet lag, for example, insomnia altered sleep habits.
  • Narcolepsy, a chronic ailment that causes a person to wake up unexpectedly tired, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • A familial history of sleep paralysis, panic disorder, and generalised anxiety disorder
  • Sleep paralysis is the inability to move your muscles when you are waking up or drifting off to sleep. Your brain is still active even when you are in sleep mode.

Sleep paralysis has a number of unknown origins, but they include

  • Insomnia, such as from shift work or jet lag, changed sleep patterns.
  • A family history of sleep paralysis, panic disorder, and generalised anxiety disorder, as well as narcolepsy, a chronic condition that causes one to awaken suddenly fatigued

How to check if you have Sleep Paralysis?

If you experience any of the following:

  • You are awake yet unable to talk, move, or open your eyes as though someone is in your room and as though something was pressing you down.
  • You feel frightened.

Risk Factors

Regardless of age, both men and women can have sleep paralysis. It often begins between the ages of 14 and 17 years old. That is a very common sleep issue. Estimates of its prevalence range greatly, from 5% to 40%. If a relative also has it, you could be more likely to get it.

Sleep paralysis may be more likely to occur if you are sleep deprived. Also, it is more probable that your sleep routine is unpredictable. Stress on the mind might also play a role. If you sleep on your back, it tends to happen more frequently. It might also have something to do with any of the following things:

  • Bipolar illness
  • The use of certain drugs
  • Cramping in the legs after sleep.


Symptoms of sleep paralysis include:

  • You feel as though someone is in your room and something is forcing you down when you are awake but are unable to talk, move, or open your eyes.
  • These emotions may persist for several minutes.


You can not really do anything to stop sleep paralysis from occurring. Yet you may take precautions to reduce your risk.

Enhancing the quality of your sleep is among the greatest strategies to prevent sleep paralysis. This is possible by:

  • Having a regular sleep pattern with established hours for bed and wake-up.
  • Establishing a calm, dark environment that is conducive to sleep.
  • Putting laptops, e-readers, phones, and tablets away before going to bed.
  • Taking a bath, reading, or listening to calming music to unwind before bed.


  • Evening leg cramps
  • Use of certain drugs, such as ADHD meds
  • Abusing drugs

Most persons with sleep paralysis do not require any therapy. If you have trouble falling asleep or are nervous, you may find relief by treating any underlying problems, such as narcolepsy. These therapies could consist of the following:

  • Changing your sleeping patterns to ensure you receive six to eight hours a night of sleep
  • Whenever antidepressants are provided to assist control of sleep cycles, taking them as directed
  • Addressing any mental health issues that could be a factor in sleep paralysis
  • Treating narcolepsy and other sleep disorders like leg cramps

There is no need to worry about extraterrestrial kidnappers or dark monsters. You may take action at home if you occasionally experience sleep paralysis.

 Make sure you get enough sleep to start. Make every effort to reduce stress in your life, especially before going to bed. If you normally sleep on your back, try a different position. If sleep paralysis often keeps you from receiving a decent night's rest, make sure to visit your doctor.

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Page last reviewed: Apr 25, 2023

Next review due: Apr 25, 2025

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