What is Sleep Paralysis – Causes of sleep paralysis



CTN News –  Sleep paralysis is when you cannot move or speak as you wake up or fall asleep. It can be scary, but it’s harmless, and most people will only get it once or twice.

What happens during sleep paralysis

During sleep – paralysis, you may feel:

  • awake but cannot move, speak or open your eyes
  • like someone is in your room
  • like something is pushing you down
  • frightened

These feelings can last up to several minutes.

Causes of sleep – paralysis

The condition known as sleep paralysis occurs when a person cannot move their muscles as they are waking up or falling asleep. This is because your brain functions normally even while your body is in a sleep state.

There is a lack of understanding of the causes of sleep – paralysis; however, it has been linked to the following:

  • insomnia
  • disrupted sleeping patterns – for example, because of shift work or jet lag
  • narcolepsy – a long-term condition that causes a person to suddenly fall asleep
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • general anxiety disorder
  • panic disorder
  • a family history of sleep – paralysis

What you can do to prevent sleep paralysis


  •  try to regularly get 6 to 8 hours of sleep a day
  •  go to bed at roughly the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning
  •  get regular exercise, but not in the 4 hours before going to bed


  •  do not eat a big meal, smoke, or drink alcohol or caffeine shortly before going to bed
  •  do not sleep on your back – this can make sleep paralysis more likely to happen

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

You often have sleep paralysis, and you feel:

  • very anxious or scared to go to sleep
  • tired all the time due to lack of sleep

Sleep paralysis treatment

Insomnia or post-traumatic stress disorder are two conditions that a general practitioner might be able to treat that could be the underlying cause of sleep paralysis.

If this does not alleviate your symptoms, they may suggest you see a sleep disorder specialist.

Treatment from a specialist

You may be prescribed medication that is typically used to treat depression. This category of medication, when taken in a lower dose, may also help treat sleep paralysis.

There is also the possibility that you will be referred to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

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