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  • Answer 1/9

    Sleep paralysis happens:

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    Imagine feeling like you're wide awake yet you can’t move or speak. That's what sleep paralysis is like. Your brain has woken up (or not yet drifted off), but you can’t move your body. It usually lasts seconds or maybe a few minutes.

    No one is exactly sure what causes sleep paralysis, but it seems to happen when REM (rapid eye movement) sleep gets disrupted. During this stage, your brain relaxes your muscles so that you can’t move them, probably to prevent you from acting out your dreams and hurting yourself.

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    Sleep paralysis usually starts:

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    Sleep paralysis can happen at any age, but it most often starts between age 14-17. It seems to be more common among people with mental health problems, such as panic disorder. Research has also linked it to general stress, trauma, and substance abuse.

  • Question 1/9

    Sleep paralysis may be a symptom of:

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    Sleep paralysis may be a symptom of:

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    You may have sleep paralysis just once or twice in your life, and in most cases it doesn’t affect your sleep overall. But if it happens a lot, that can be a sign of narcolepsy, a sleep disorder in which you can suddenly and unexpectedly fall asleep. Let your doctor know if you often have sleep paralysis, especially if it keeps you from sleeping well.

  • Answer 1/9

    Not getting enough sleep often:

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    You’re more likely to have sleep paralysis if you skimp on sleep or have an irregular sleep schedule. Getting 6 to 8 hours of sleep a night and going to bed and waking up at the same time every day may help.

  • Question 1/9

    People with sleep paralysis often see or hear things that aren't there.

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    People with sleep paralysis often see or hear things that aren't there.

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    Many people have vivid hallucinations during sleep paralysis. For example, you may think there's an intruder in your bedroom, imagine you're floating, or feel like you're being crushed or choked. In one study, about 90% of people who had sleep paralysis said that it was very frightening.

  • Question 1/9

    Some cultures have described sleep paralysis as:

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    Some cultures have described sleep paralysis as:

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    People reported sleep paralysis long before the invention of sleep studies and brain imaging technology. Many cultures have interpreted it as something demonic: African-Americans in Louisiana, for example, used to describe it as a spirit or witch that rides your back. Others have blamed gnomes, ghosts, the souls of dead children, demonic dogs, and, of course, the devil.

  • Question 1/9

    Sleep paralysis is most likely to happen when you sleep on your:

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    Sleep paralysis is most likely to happen when you sleep on your:

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    When researchers reviewed studies of more than 6,700 people, they found that those who snoozed on their backs were much more likely to report sleep paralysis. It's not clear why, but maybe it's time to curl up on your side or give stomach sleeping a try?

  • Question 1/9

    To treat sleep paralysis, you might take:

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    To treat sleep paralysis, you might take:

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    A one-off case of sleep paralysis doesn't need treatment, but if it happens a lot, there's a good chance another health problem is to blame. Treating that issue will help relieve sleep paralysis. If you have narcolepsy, antidepressant medication can cut back on the amount of REM sleep you have, and, in turn, make sleep paralysis less likely. Someone who has another health problem, like bipolar disorder or panic disorder, may need different treatment.

  • Question 1/9

    In the middle of a sleep paralysis episode, you should:

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    In the middle of a sleep paralysis episode, you should:

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    If you really try hard to break out of it -- perhaps by focusing on wiggling a toe or moving a foot -- you might be able to end the episode sooner. If someone else touches you or tries to speak to you, that should end it as well. Even if you don't do anything, it will be over within a few minutes. Sleep paralysis ends by itself, and while it can be scary, it's not dangerous. 

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Sources | Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on November 04, 2018 Medically Reviewed on November 04, 2018

Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on
November 04, 2018

IMAGE PROVIDED BY:

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SOURCES:

American Sleep Association: "Sleep Paralysis: Causes, Symptoms, and How to Stop Them."

Cleveland Clinic: "Parasomnias and Disruptive Sleep Disorders."

Sleep Medicine Reviews: “A systematic review of variables associated with sleep paralysis.”

Green, Thomas (editor). Folklore: An Encyclopedia of Beliefs, Customs, Tales, Music, and Art, Volume 1, 1997.

National Sleep Foundation: "Hallucinations and Sleep Paralysis."

Sleep Medicine Reviews: “Lifetime Prevalence Rates of Sleep Paralysis: A Systematic Review.”

American Academy of Sleep Medicine: "Sleep Paralysis."

University of Waterloo: "Awake in a Nightmare."

NHS: “Sleep paralysis.”

Journal of Sleep Research: “Situational factors affecting sleep paralysis and associated hallucinations: position and timing effects.”

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