Causes of sleep paralysis

causes of sleep paralysis

Surely you or a family member has ever woken up paralyzed or paralyzed in sleep or paralyzed in sleep. However, much is still unknown about sleep paralysis. Therefore, looking at its types, symptoms, causes, effects, and treatment can help to better understand the condition and how to try to prevent it. Let’s find out the causes of sleep paralysis in the article below!

What is sleep paralysis?

High angle shot of a beautiful young woman sleeping in her bed at home during the night

Sleep paralysis is a temporary loss of mobility that occurs shortly after falling asleep or waking up with paralysis, sometimes sleep paralysis. You remain aware while it’s happening, often associated with hallucinations and a feeling of suffocation.

These episodes of sleep paralysis involve elements of both sleep and wakefulness, which is part of why they can give rise to painful symptoms. Sleep paralysis is a form of insomnia that can last from a few seconds to a few minutes and usually occurs when the person is lying on their back. Sleep paralysis often occurs in patients with narcolepsy.

Although it doesn’t cause any physical harm, the feeling of not being able to move can be very scary and cause significant anxiety. Many people experience additional symptoms that add to their trauma. Including:

  • Feel footsteps, voices, shadows, and more.
  • Pressure on the chest
  • A feeling of floating, levitation, or an out-of-body experience
  • Feeling suffocated like being strangled
  • These hallucinations are most likely related to anxiety

There are three main factors in an episode of sleep paralysis and all must be present for a diagnosis to be made:

  • Is the patient aware that they are awake?
  • Patients are aware of their surroundings
  • The patient is completely immobilized (loss of muscle tone)

These are the key features of a classic episode of sleep paralysis. In fact, every sleeping person experiences sleep paralysis during their REM phase.

The body can rest, although the mind continues to function. In sleep paralysis, the period of ataxia is accompanied by this abnormal alertness and awareness – this can make the affected person extremely anxious, even when no other symptoms are present. accompanying this phase.

For most people, sleep paralysis is not a serious problem. It is classified as a benign condition and does not usually occur often enough to cause serious health problems.

However, an estimated 10% of people experience recurrent or more bothersome episodes that make sleep paralysis particularly bothersome. As a result, they may develop negative thoughts about going to bed, reduce time spent sleeping, or cause anxiety around bedtime that makes it harder for them to fall asleep. Lack of sleep can lead to excessive sleepiness and many other consequences for a person’s overall health.

The defining features of sleep paralysis are:
In the medical literature, two types of sleep paralysis are commonly mentioned:

  • Isolated sleep paralysis is a neurological disorder that prevents the brain from properly controlling wakefulness and often leads to sleep paralysis.
  • Recurrent sleep paralysis involves multiple episodes over long periods of time.

In many cases, these two defining features are combined to describe recurrent isolated sleep paralysis (RISP), associated with cases of intermittent sleep paralysis in a person without sleep paralysis. droopy.

Causes of sleep paralysis

Sleep paralysis is related to REM (rapid eye movement), the stage of sleep in which we often dream. During this time, the brain closes all the unimportant muscle groups in the body, which will most likely prevent us from realizing our dreams.

Sleep paralysis occurs when there is a mistransmission of nerve signals and the brain is unable to reactivate the muscles, leaving the patient awake, but completely paralyzed. It is an abnormal REM state and a sign that your body is not moving smoothly during the stages of sleep.

The exact cause of sleep paralysis is unknown, but genetics may play a large part. However, in addition to your genes, there are several other risk factors that can increase your chances of it occurring. Consists of:

Sleep disturbances and other sleep problems have shown some of the strongest correlations with isolated sleep paralysis. A higher rate of sleep paralysis – 38% in one study – was reported by people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a sleep disorder that repeats itself during breathing. Sleep paralysis was also found to be more common in people with nighttime leg cramps.


An existing psychiatric condition such as bipolar disorder. People with anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, seem to be more likely to experience the condition. Some of the strongest associations were in people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and others who had been exposed to childhood sexual abuse or other types of physical and emotional distress. other gods. Stopping alcohol or antidepressants can also lead to REM recovery and can also cause sleep paralysis.

Abuse of drugs or alcohol

Sleep paralysis is a surprisingly common phenomenon, affecting up to 40% of the population at least once in their lifetime. Although it can affect men and women of any age, the first symptoms usually appear in childhood, adolescence, or young adulthood (ages 7 to 25). After starting in adolescence, attacks may become more frequent in your 20s and 30s.

Methods to treat paralysis in sleep

The first step in treating sleep paralysis is to talk to your doctor to identify and address underlying problems that may be contributing to the frequency or severity of attacks. For example, this symptom may be related to narcolepsy treatment or steps to better control sleep apnea.

Overall, there is little scientific evidence for optimal treatment for sleep paralysis. Therefore, even just having a doctor confirm and normalize their symptoms can be beneficial.

Because of the link between sleep paralysis and sleep problems in general, improving sleep hygiene is a common focus in preventing sleep paralysis. Sleep hygiene refers to a person’s bedroom layout and daily habits that affect sleep quality.

Examples of healthy sleep tips that can contribute to better sleep hygiene and more regular nightly rest include:

– Follow the same bedtime and wake-up schedule every day, even on weekends.

– Keep a bedtime routine that keeps you comfortable and relaxed.

– Equip your bed with a comfortable mattress and pillows.

– Set up your bedroom to limit light or noise intrusion.

– Reduce alcohol and caffeine consumption, especially in the evening.

– Put away electronic devices, including cell phones, at least half an hour before bedtime.

– Improving sleep hygiene is often combined with cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), a type of talk therapy that works to curb the negative thoughts and emotions that cause insomnia.

A specific form of CBT has been developed to treat sleep paralysis, but more research is needed to confirm its effectiveness. CBT has a track record of addressing mental health conditions such as anxiety and PTSD that may be influencing factors for sleep paralysis risk.

When you wake up suddenly in the middle of the night, you try to get over this automatism and start breathing on your own, which creates a feeling of suffocation. Patients who feel overwhelmed by symptoms may want to consider a course of therapy, such as counseling or hypnotherapy, to help them cope.

Final thought

If your sleep paralysis is causing more trouble, your doctor may recommend a clinical treatment. Several antidepressants have been shown to reduce the incidence of episodes of paralysis, although it must be emphasized that they do not work in every patient.

Tricyclic antidepressants (TAs) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) commonly used to treat depression – are thought to work to paralyze sleep by altering the amount of and depth of REM sleep, preventing temporary paralysis upon waking/falling asleep. However, you should talk to your doctor before taking any medication to discuss its potential benefits and downsides.

Top News hopes this article provides you with helpful information about the causes of sleep paralysis and helps you deal with this problem effectively!

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