Here’s what you need to know about sleep paralysis

Sleep researchers conclude that, in most cases, sleep paralysis is simply a sign that your body is not moving smoothly through the stages of sleep. Rarely is sleep paralysis linked to deep underlying psychiatric problems

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  • Sleep paralysis is most likely to occur during adolescence.
  • Episodes last from a few seconds to a few minutes.
  • Stress, jet lag, sleep deprivation and panic disorder may trigger it.
  • An inability to move or speak is an essential feature, and there may be hallucinations.
  • It is not physically harmful and it can be prevented.
  • Sleep paralysis is a parasomnia, or an undesired event that is associated with sleep.

Sleep paralysis is a feeling of being unable to move, either at the onset of sleep or upon awakening.

The individual’s senses and awareness are intact, but they may feel as if there is pressure on them, or as if they are choking.

It may be accompanied by hallucinations and intense fear.

Sleep paralysis is not life-threatening, but it can cause anxiety. It can happen alongside other sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy.

It often starts during adolescence, and it can become frequent during the 20s and 30s. It is not a serious risk.

When does sleep paralysis usually occur?

Sleep paralysis usually occurs at one of two times. If it occurs while you are falling asleep, it’s called hypnagogic or predormital sleep paralysis. If it happens as you are waking up, it’s called hypnopompic or postdormital sleep paralysis.

While speaking to My Medical Mantra, Dr Alkesh Patil, a psychiatrist informed, “A lot of patients suffer from sleep paralysis. This is not at all a life-threatening condition. When we sleep, we go into a Rapid Eye Movement. After 2-3 hours the moment occurs again. In this, the muscles are totally relaxed. And if we wake up during this stage, then sleep paralysis is likely to happen.”

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms include:

  • an inability to move the body when falling asleep or on waking, lasting for seconds or several minutes
  • being consciously awake
  • being unable to speak during the episode
  • having hallucinations and sensations that cause fear
  • feeling pressure on the chest
  • having difficulty breathing
  • feeling as if death is approaching
  • sweating
  • having headaches, muscle pains, and paranoia

Everyday non-threatening sounds, sensations, and other stimuli that the brain normally ignores become disproportionately significant.

Sleep paralysis is not normally considered a medical diagnosis, but if symptoms are of concern, it may be a good idea to see a doctor.

Medical attention may help when:

  • sleep paralysis happens regularly
  • there is anxiety about going to sleep or difficulty falling asleep
  • the individual falls asleep suddenly or feels unusually sleepy during the day

If stress or anxiety are present, addressing these may help relieve symptoms.

With inputs from Medical News Today