Sleep paralysis: what are the causes and how to avoid it

The sleep paralysis It is a common sleep disorder in which the person suffering from it cannot speak or move for a period of time that can last between 10 seconds and 2 minutes.

The disorder of the sleep paralysis It can occur just when the person who suffers it falls asleep or when he just wakes up, and those who usually experience it affirm that the worst thing is that during the entire time that the paralysis lasts, they are 100% conscious but cannot do anything to wake up the body.

Although it is a completely benign disorder, it can sometimes generate distress and negative feelings, especially when paralysis is accompanied by hallucinations or visions, aspect that is also very common.

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Why it happens?

The sleep paralysis It happens because during the moment of sleep the brain is able to relax all the muscles of the body and keep the body immobile so that it can conserve energy and avoid sudden movements during dreams. However, when communication problems occur between the brain and the body, it can take time for the brain to return movement to the body, causing an episode of sleep paralysis.

During a sleep paralysis and hallucinations, affected people can see, hear and feel but cannot move. Hallucinations generally seem like nightmares and it is possible to be alarmed by these visions, but no matter how dangerous they feel, there is nothing they can do to defend themselves. According to the victims of this disorder, it is really maddening.

The most common symptoms of sleep paralysis are:

  • Not being able to move the body despite being awake;
  • Feeling short of breath;
  • Feeling of anguish and fear;
  • Feeling of falling or floating on the body;
  • Auditory hallucinations such as hearing voices and sounds not characteristic of the place;
  • Visual hallucinations;
  • Drowning sensation.

Although worrisome symptoms may arise, sleep paralysis is not dangerous, nor does it endanger life. During this disorder, all muscles and organs continue to function normally.


Sleep paralysis is more common than it seems. Many people have had at least one episode in their lifetime and, although the exact cause is not known, it may be due to some habits of daily life, such as:

Not getting enough sleep.

Not having a regular sleep schedule, like people in professions that often work shifts.

Suffering mental stress.

The habit of sleeping on your back could exacerbate the disorder.

On the other hand, there are also some health problems that can be associated with sleep paralysis in the same way:

Sleep disorders such as narcolepsy.

Certain mental conditions, such as bipolar disorder, PTSD, or panic disorder, as well as phobias.

Use of certain medications such as for ADHD

Use of substances that can cause hallucinations.

Sleep paralysis can lead to hallucinations.

How to avoid sleep paralysis

Taking into account that the sleep paralysis it is more frequent in people with bad sleep habits, it is recommended to improve the quality of it, through what in medicine is called "sleep education". Among the strategies most shared by health professionals, some are:

1- Go to bed always at the same time;

two- Sleep at least 8 hours.

3- Wake up at the same time every day;

4- Avoid energy drinks before bed, such as coffee or soda.

5- Use the bed only to sleep. That is, not go to bed to watch movies or check the cell phone before sleeping.

6- Keep the room orderly and quiet.

7- Getting tired during the day: doing sports, not napping, or meditating before sleeping can help you fall asleep better and, therefore, avoid paralysis episodes.

In most cases, sleep paralysis occurs only once or twice during a person's entire life. However, in cases where it occurs frequently, it is advisable to consult a neurologist or a doctor specializing in sleep disorders, who may order a more specific treatment.

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Have you ever suffered from sleep paralysis? What was your experience like?

Sources: MedlinePlus, Tuasaude

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