Who doesn’t like a healthy good night’s sleep? However, many times we find ourselves stuck in our dreams. A phenomenon in our sleep that feels like it is impossible to move even a limb, a phenomenon where you have to force yourself to wake up because you feel stuck.

While falling asleep or waking up, you might encounter a moment we’re you’re stunningly still, and can’t move your body. This phenomenon is known as sleep paralysis. During your sleep, your brain helps your arms and legs muscles to relax. Sleep paralysis is a medical phenomenon when you are aware in your sleep but cannot move. This paralysis is temporary and is not a major medical issue. Let’s learn more about sleep paralysis.

What is Sleep Paralysis?

Sleep paralysis is a temporary medical phenomenon that occurs when a person is asleep or is about to wake up. During such episodes, a person is completely conscious and aware but cannot move their arms or limbs, and is unable to speak.

Sleep paralysis can be easily associated with other sleep states like dreaming or nightmares, but the major difference is that you are awake when you encounter episodes of sleep paralysis.

What are the Types of Sleep Paralysis?

Majorly, there are two types of sleep paralysis:

Isolated Sleep Paralysis

An isolated sleep paralysis is one when it occurs alone and is not accompanied by other sleeping episodes like narcolepsy or sleeping disorders.

Recurrent Sleep Paralysis

As the name suggests, this condition involves multiple sleeping paralysis episodes. This phenomenon can be associated with narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is a disorder where a person is expected to fall into deep sleep at any time.

In many situations, both these sleep paralysis can occur together. And in some cases you will experience recurring isolated sleep paralysis (RISP). RISP is a condition of continuous sleep paralysis without narcolepsy.

When Can a Sleep Paralysis Occur?

Sleep paralysis occurs only when:

  • A person is falling asleep
  • Waking up from a deep sleep
  • At both times

Sleep paralysis is considered parasomnia, or an abnormal behavior that occurs during sleep. As sleep paralysis is associated with the rapid eye movement (REM) phase of the sleep cycle, it is classified as REM parasomnia.

At the time of REM, the eyes start moving quickly and vivid dreams occur. At this point, the muscles of the body are relaxed to help reduce movement. The brain controls this muscle relaxation to prevent you from moving in your dreams.

What are the Symptoms of Sleep Paralysis?

The symptoms of sleep paralysis may include:

  • An inability to move arms, legs, and head while falling asleep or waking up
  • A person cannot speak
  • Complete awareness of the surrounding
  • Hallucinations

These episodes may last for a few seconds or a few minutes and can occur once in a lifetime or at regular intervals.

What are the Causes of Sleep Paralysis?

While the exact cause of sleep paralysis is not known, the researcher comes up with certain aspects that can trigger such episodes:

  • Inadequate sleep
  • Irregular sleeping schedule, or often changing sleep schedules.
  • Improper sleeping posture.

Sleep paralysis is also often linked with certain conditions or activities like:

  • Narcolepsy – Sudden episodes of deep sleep
  • Alcohol
  • Substance use
  • Some medical conditions like – bipolar disorders, anxiety, panics, and PTSD
  • Use of certain medications like the one used for ADHD

How Long Does Sleep Paralysis Last?

These episodes of sleep paralysis are small and quick. These episodes can last for a few seconds, or a few minutes. These episodes usually tend to end on their own or when you’re interrupted in your sleep. Sometimes a person’s intense efforts to move in the sleep can also end such episodes.

What Does a Sleep Paralysis Episode Feel Like?

The sleep paralysis experience varies from person to person. For some people, it might just be a normal paralysis when they’re sleeping, while for others it can be a scary sleeping episode that can cause anxiety.

Hallucinations during sleep paralysis are normal and can be of three types:

  1. Intruder Hallucination – This might feel like a paranormal event, such as the presence of another person in the room.
  2. Chest Pressure Hallucination – This episode feels like your chest is pressured or you’re being choked or suffocated.
  3. Vestibular-motor (V-M) hallucinations – Such sensations are levitating, and give a feeling of the light-weigh body, or flying out-of-the-body sensation.

Can You Die In Your Sleep Paralysis?

As phony as this question is, no, you cannot die in your sleep paralysis episode. Sleep paralysis could be scary and cause certain anxiety issues in a person. However, it does not trigger any serious health issues, as it is not a serious medical condition or risk.

People who encounter regular sleep paralysis might develop unhealthy sleeping habits to avoid sleep. This can cause further health issues.


At present there is no treatment for sleep paralysis. However, through meditation, a healthy diet, balanced lifestyle, these recurrent episodes can be controlled. If you’re facing serious and complex sleep paralysis episodes, then consult your doctor immediately.