Sleep Paralysis - Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention | Medtalks

Sleep Paralysis - Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention | Medtalks

What is Sleep Paralysis?

Sleep paralysis is the sensation of being awake but unable to move while sleeping. It happens when a person transitions between the stages of wakefulness and sleep. You may be unable to move or speak for a few seconds to a few minutes during these transitions. Some people may also experience pressure or choking. Other sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy, may be accompanied by sleep paralysis. Narcolepsy is characterized by an excessive desire to sleep caused by a problem with the brain's ability to regulate sleep.

Most Common Types of Sleep Paralysis | Sleep Paralysis Treatment

Sleep paralysis typically occurs in one of two ways: 

1. If it happens as you're falling asleep, it's known as hypnagogic or predormital sleep paralysis. 

2. If it occurs as you are waking up, it is referred to as hypnopompic or postdormital sleep paralysis.

What are the Signs & Symptoms of Sleep Paralysis | Sleep Paralysis Symptoms

The inability to move or speak is the most common symptom of a sleep paralysis episode. An episode can last anywhere from a few seconds to about two minutes.

You may also encounter:

  • feeling as if something is pushing you down

  • feeling as if someone or something is in the room 

  • feeling fear hypnagogic and hypnopompic experiences (HHEs), which are hallucinations that occur during, just before, or after sleep.

Other signs and symptoms may include:

  • trouble breathing

  • fear of death

  • sweating

  • aches and pains in the muscles

  • headache

  • paranoia

Episodes usually end on their own or when you are touched or moved by another person.Even if you are aware of what is going on, you may be unable to move or speak during an episode. After the temporary paralysis wears off, you may be able to recall the details of the episode.Some people have dreamlike hallucinations that cause fear or anxiety in rare cases, but these hallucinations are harmless.

What is the Cause of Sleep Paralysis | can sleep paralysis cause death

Sleep paralysis can affect both children and adults of all ages. Certain groups, however, are at a higher risk than others.

People suffering from the following conditions are at a higher risk:

  • insomnia

  • narcolepsy

  • anxiety

  • major depression

  • bipolar illness

  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Sleep paralysis is also commonly caused by a disconnect between the mind and the body that occurs during sleep.

The typical causes of sleep paralysis are as follows:

  • Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea can be caused by poor sleep hygiene or a lack of proper sleep habits.

  • Sleep paralysis has also been linked to a disrupted sleep schedule.

  • Working night shifts or being jet-lagged are two examples of how your sleep schedule can be disrupted.

  • Sleep paralysis appears to run in families in some cases. This, however, is unusual. There is no conclusive scientific evidence that the condition is inherited.

  • Sleeping on your back may increase your chances of having an epileptic seizure. Sleep deprivation may also increase the risk of sleep paralysis.

How is Sleep Paralysis Diagnosed | Reasons for Sleep Paralysis

There are no medical tests required to diagnose sleep paralysis.Your doctor will inquire about your sleeping habits as well as your medical history. They may also request that you keep a sleep diary in which you record your experiences during sleep paralysis episodes.

In some cases, your doctor may advise you to participate in an overnight sleep study to monitor your brain waves and breathing patterns while you sleep. This is usually only advised if sleep paralysis is causing you to be sleepless.

What is the Best Way to Treat Sleep Paralysis | Sleep Paralysis Treatment

Sleep paralysis symptoms typically resolve in a matter of minutes and do not result in any long-term physical effects or trauma. The experience, on the other hand, can be quite unsettling and frightening.In most cases, sleep paralysis that occurs in isolation does not necessitate treatment. Those who show signs of narcolepsy should see a doctor. This is especially important if your symptoms interfere with your work or personal life.

If narcolepsy is the underlying cause of your sleep paralysis, your doctor may prescribe certain medications to help you manage it.Stimulants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as fluoxetine (Prozac), are the most commonly prescribed medications.

SSRIs aid in the management of narcolepsy symptoms.

A polysomnography, or sleep study, may be ordered by your doctor.

  • A healthcare provider will place electrodes on your chin, scalp, and the outer edge of your eyelids for this study. 

  • Electrodes record electrical activity in your muscles as well as brain waves.

  • They'll also keep an eye on your breathing and heart rate. 

  • In some cases, a camera will record your movements while you are sleeping.

It is believed that the key to overcoming sleep paralysis is to improve sleep hygiene by following a good bedtime routine that includes:

  • avoiding blue light, before going to bed 

  • keeping the room temperature low

These bedtime routines can help you get a better night's sleep. With a few simple lifestyle changes, you can reduce symptoms or the frequency of episodes, such as:

  • Reduce the amount of stress in your life.

  • Exercise regularly, but not too close to bedtime.

  • Get enough sleep.

  • Maintain a consistent sleep schedule.

  • Keep a record of any medications you are taking for any conditions.

  • Learn about the side effects and interactions of your medications so you can avoid potential side effects such as sleep paralysis.

  • Sleep on your side rather than your back.

If you have a mental health problem, such as anxiety or depression, taking an antidepressant may help you sleep better. Antidepressants can help you sleep better by reducing the number of dreams you have.

FAQ's Of Sleep Paralysis

How often should I see my doctor if I'm experiencing sleep paralysis?

Roth recommends seeing your primary care physician if you've had symptoms longer than two weeks. If you haven't seen your PCP within six months, however, then you may want to make an appointment. She suggests calling around to find someone open later in the day because, she says, “It tends to happen earlier in the evening.”

What are risk factors for sleep paralysis?

Sleep paralysis can be one sign of narcolepsy. There are several possible reasons why some people have more frequent episodes than others. Risk factors include:

  • Having trouble sleeping because of stress or anxiety
  • Being overweight
  • Using alcohol before bedtime
  • Taking certain medications
  • Not having enough exercise

How do I prevent sleep paralysis?

You cannot control whether you will experience sleep paralysis. However, you can take steps to reduce the frequency of episodes. Here are ways to help avoid sleep paralysis: Get plenty of restful sleep each night.

Is sleep paralysis bad ?

for you? Is it a sign of something more serious? What causes this condition and how can I get rid of it? Sleep paralysis is one of the most common symptoms that people experience during their lifetime. It’s also known as hypnagogic or hypnic, which means “between sleeping and waking.” This type of sleep disorder occurs when your brain transitions from being awake to asleep but before falling into deep REM stage of sleep.

Why do you go into sleep paralysis and what is it?

What happens when we are asleep and then wake up in the middle of a dream, but can't move our body. We feel like we're awake, but paralyzed. It's called Sleep Paralysis or Hypnagogic Hallucination.It usually occurs during REM sleep. This is where your brain waves become very active. You may also experience this while dreaming.

Is sleep paralysis can cause death ?

The answer is yes. Sleep paralysis, also known as hypnagogic or hypnic jerk syndrome, occurs when you are falling asleep and your body goes into a state of suspended animation. During this time the brain sends out signals to muscles that control breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, etc., but these messages don’t get through because they aren’t being processed by conscious thought. This causes an inability for the person to move their limbs or even open their eyes.


Sleep paralysis is a common condition that, while not dangerous or life-threatening, can be frightening and unsettling for some people.If the condition is causing you distress or impairing your sleep, you should consult your doctor for advice and treatment options.





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