Sleep paralysis is a phenomenon in which a person is conscious but unable to move while they are asleep. This state can last anywhere from a few seconds to minutes or even hours. It is most common during the onset of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is the stage of sleep when people experience dreams. In most people, this is the last stage of sleep before waking up. People who experience sleep paralysis are unable to progress from one stage of sleep to the next. They are fully aware of their surroundings but are unable to move. Stay with us to know the risk factors, causes, symptoms, treatment and preventive measures of Sleep Paralysis syndrome.

Risk Factors and Causes of Sleep Paralysis

About 8% of people experience sleep paralysis at least once in their life. While the rate is higher for students, people having psychiatric conditions, and people of color, anyone can experience it. Sleep paralysis can be a frightening experience, but it is not always dangerous. Let's see the common reasons for sleep paralysis.

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Sleep Deprivation or Insomnia

People who are sleep-deprived are more prone to sleep paralysis. Sleep deprivation can lead to a person experiencing sleep paralysis due to the lack of REM sleep. This is the stage of sleep where most dreams occur and where muscles relax. If a person is deprived of REM sleep, they will be more likely to experience sleep paralysis.

Anxiousness and Nervousness

When a person is anxious, they will often focus on their breathing or shallow breathing as if it could save them from some danger or threat that may be threatening them. If a person's breathing is shallow enough that it causes them the experience of being caught in a trap, unable to move, and unable to speak.

Nervousness may also cause a person to have shallow breathing, which can then lead them to experience sleep paralysis when they begin to panic or are so nervous that they are unable to control their breathing or feel safe.

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Many medications can also cause sleep paralysis. For example, high blood pressure drugs, hormonal medicines, steroids, and inhaled respiratory drugs can lead to sleep disorders. Eventually, these can cause sleep paralysis.


Alcohol can also cause people to experience sudden awakenings from deep stages of sleep like NREM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement) and REM causing them to have difficulty returning back into deeper stages of sleeping, causing them to experience a feeling of being awake and not being able to move or talk. This feeling can last for up to 20 minutes or so, in which the person may experience a variety of symptoms, including panic attacks, hallucinations, and amnesia.


We have all experienced stress in our lives; some of us probably have experienced it on a regular basis, and many of us probably have experienced it at some point in our life. When you are experiencing stress, it can cause you to face sleep paralysis because the body goes into fight or flight mode when you are stressed out. And you may experience symptoms such as lightheadedness, dizziness, and feeling like you are going to pass out.

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Sleep Positions

One thing that many people do not realize when it comes down to their bedtime routine is that when they get into bed at night, they need to make sure that their body is in the correct position for sleeping. And this means you always make sure that your head is on a pillow which will allow you to have a comfortable night's sleep. 

Also, if you are having trouble sleeping due to an episode of sleep paralysis, then it may be a good idea to try sleeping on your side. This position will often help keep you from falling into a state of sleep paralysis. It will also allow you to breathe in a more natural way, which will often help reduce the amount of time that you are experiencing these episodes.

Being Overweight

There has been a lot of research done on this subject over the years, which shows that people who are overweight often experience more sleep paralysis symptoms than those who are of normal weight. Being overweight can lead to sleep disorders, which may cause sleep paralysis.

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Symptoms of Sleep Paralysis

The most common way to know if you have sleep paralysis is you will have a feeling of being awake but unable to move. One of the most common symptoms is that your body remains paralyzed for a few seconds after the mind is awake and the eyes are open. Another symptom is that your head may feel like it's stuck in a vise or a vice grip. The last and most scary symptom of sleep paralysis is when you can hear noises in your head like someone whispering or calling out to you or when you hear an intruder in your house.

Medical Treatment of Sleep Paralysis

Sleep paralysis is not a major issue, and it is a common phenomenon. Therefore, most people don't need any treatment for sleep paralysis. But if it occurs more often, you may need to consult a doctor to find out the reasons. If you have sleep paralysis due to anxiety or depression, or mental health issues, you might require medical treatment. For example, you may need to take a sleeping pill to improve sleep habits to make sure you are getting six to eight hours of sleep.

Sometimes, doctors may prescribe you antidepressant medication to regulate sleep cycles. Also, treating any mental health issue will improve sleep paralysis. You may also need treatment for other kinds of sleep disorders such as leg cramps or narcolepsy.

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Preventive Measures for Sleep Paralysis

If you are experiencing sleep paralysis, here are a few things you can do to make it easier to fall asleep. First, make sure your mind is calm as you go to bed. Try not to think about anything that might cause you anxiety. Second, try to go to bed at the same time every night. Often, when we change the time we go to bed, we will find ourselves falling asleep at a different time. 

Lastly, try to keep things in your bedroom as simple as possible. Sometimes, when we have too much stuff in our bedroom, we end up worrying about our stuff. Therefore, try to keep your bedroom as simple as possible and, if possible, leave a few things like pictures or items from your childhood, so it reminds you of happy times.

Final Words

So far, we have discussed the common symptoms, risk factors, reasons, treatment and preventive measures of Sleep Paralysis. Not to mention, Sleep paralysis is a common and often frightening experience, but it can be largely avoided through simple precautions. Practicing safe sleep habits, such as avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed, can help reduce the chances of experiencing sleep paralysis in the first place. If you do experience sleep paralysis, be sure to seek help from a physician or other trusted source to get relief.

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