What is Sleep Paralysis?

Have you ever woken up from a dream and felt like you cannot move or speak? You try your best to articulate words, but nothing comes out of your mouth. 

This dysfunction is called sleep paralysis, and it affects around 8% of the population. In this article, we will explore what sleep paralysis is, its causes, symptoms, and how it can be treated.

What is Sleep Paralysis
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Carlos' Opinion on Sleep Paralysis

I had of course experienced sleep paralysis. 

Some were more awful than another ones.

It is a feeling of being trapped, unable to move, to scream, to react.

It sometimes feels as someone or somewhat pulling you down.

The times I experienced, the only thing I was able to do was to either try to sleep back again, but with fear, or just breath and breath and breath until the body moved.

What I noticed with the time, one of the main reasons that I think I was getting the sleep paralysis was due to a thyroid medication Eutirox levothyroxine I was taking before, which was of the brand Merck.

This is what I think, I am not 100% sure it was the main reason, but as far as I remember, my time before dealing with thyroid issues, I didn’t get any sleep paralysis, as when the time as on those medication.

Is it good or bad to experience, sleep paralysis? I don’t know, and I don’t have the answer, but what I do think is that the body and the mind might have a way of saying that something is off balance.

It is mentioned that the muscles are still tired, that is why the person can’t react. Therefore, it may be part of the cause.

True might be for some, including me, that we were sooo much into our daily routines, that we were not able to stop for a second or well, a weekend to take a rest and be able to recover from our day to day life.

As I have been more focused on my healing journey in the last years, I haven’t experienced back again as often as before some sort as sleep paralysis.

I did changed the medication for my thyroid to another brand, and have a way lower dose that I was taking before. Might that be part of the solution? MaybeThe previous brand did affected me a lot, and not only with my sleeping issues, but also with my heart, which tanks God I am way better and not having any chest pain.

Unfortunately there are still conventional doctors that won’t see the medication as part of the symptom and try to fix it with another medication.

The good thing is that new doctors, functional medicine doctors, or doctors that are more aware of the whole system of the body, that also includes the mind and the spirit, seek out for other parts or other root causes of an issue that a person may be facing.

Yes, a sleep paralysis feels horrible, but as for now, I can say that if there is an integral treatment to the body, the mind, and the spirit, at least, and as far as I lived, the events of sleep paralysis can be reduced or eliminated, without the need of any special medication.

What is Sleep Paralysis?

Defining Sleep Paralysis

Sleep paralysis is a temporary inability to move or speak for a short period. It is a condition that occurs when the body is either going to sleep or waking up. 

During this time, the brain is in a state of wakefulness, but the body is still in sleep mode. The paralysis can last from a few seconds up to a few minutes. 

Many people who experience sleep paralysis report symptoms such as a feeling of pressure, pain, or choking. 

Recurrent isolated sleep paralysis is when a person experiences episodes of sleep paralysis repeatedly.

Causes of Sleep Paralysis

There is no single cause of sleep paralysis, but several factors may increase the risk of experiencing it. 

Sleep deprivation, an irregular sleep schedule, and narcolepsy are the most common causes. Family history of sleep paralysis or sleep disorders may also make people more susceptible to it. 

Obstructive sleep apnea, a sleep disorder, where breathing stops and starts, can also result in sleep paralysis episodes.

Symptoms of Sleep Paralysis

The most apparent symptom of sleep paralysis is the inability to move or speak. It can be a frightening experience that often accompanies hallucinations. 

Some people report feeling a presence or that someone is in the room with them. Atonia is another symptom of sleep paralysis which is when the muscles are conscious but cannot move. 

This condition is a sign that the body is in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep which is the phase of the sleep cycle where we dream.

Hypnagogic and Hypnopompic Sleep Paralysis

Sleeping young woman, healthy daytime sleep, on pillow with closed eyes

Explaining Hypnagogic Sleep Paralysis

Hypnagogic sleep paralysis occurs when the body is falling asleep. 

During this phase, the brain begins to relax, and the body prepares itself for deep sleep. Hypnagogic sleep paralysis episodes usually last a few seconds or minutes and are characterized by vivid hallucinations.

Those hallucinations occur as the brain tries to make sense of the body’s paralysis, and it creates realistic images that may scare or terrify the person.

Explaining Hypnopompic Sleep Paralysis

The opposite of hypnagogic sleep paralysis is hypnopompic sleep paralysis. This condition occurs when the body is waking up from deep sleep, and the brain is still in sleep mode. Hypnopompic episodes occur when the person is partially awake but unable to move or talk. Like hypnagogic sleep paralysis, vivid hallucinations often accompany hypnopompic episodes.

Cataplexy and Other Associated Symptoms

Cataplexy is a condition where the person experiences sudden muscle weakness or paralysis. It is often associated with narcolepsy but may also be linked to sleep paralysis. 

Other associated symptoms like rapid eye movement can provide clues about the underlying cause of the condition. Consulting with a healthcare provider to obtain a thorough sleep history and examination can help diagnose sleep disorders like cataplexy and sleep paralysis.

Preventing and Treating Sleep Paralysis


Sleep paralysis can occur in anyone, and it may not always indicate an underlying health problem. However, if a person experiences frequent episodes of sleep paralysis, they should consult with their healthcare provider. By establishing healthy sleep habits and diagnosing any underlying sleep disorders, individuals can treat sleep paralysis and improve their overall sleep quality.

FAQs about Sleep Paralysis

Sleep paralysis is a phenomenon in which a person is temporarily unable to move or speak while falling asleep or waking up.

The exact cause of sleep paralysis is not known, but it is thought to be associated with disruptions in sleep patterns and muscle atonia, a natural process that occurs during REM sleep to prevent us from acting out our dreams.

The main symptom of sleep paralysis is the inability to move or speak, which can be accompanied by a feeling of pressure on the chest, hallucinations, and a sense of impending doom.

Sleep paralysis happens when the brain awakens from REM sleep but the body remains in a state of muscle atonia, causing temporary paralysis.

Sleep paralysis is often considered a sleep disorder, although it can also be a symptom of other sleep disorders such as narcolepsy or sleep apnea.

Sleep paralysis may occur in individuals with certain health conditions such as insomnia, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, and sleep deprivation.

While there is no guaranteed way to prevent sleep paralysis, adopting good sleep hygiene practices, such as maintaining a regular sleep schedule and avoiding sleep deprivation, may help reduce the risk of experiencing it.

There is no specific treatment for sleep paralysis, but addressing underlying sleep disorders and practicing relaxation techniques may help reduce the frequency and intensity of episodes.

Sleeping on your back has been associated with a higher risk of sleep paralysis. It is recommended to sleep in a position that promotes good airflow and minimizes the likelihood of experiencing muscle atonia.

Sleep paralysis can be a frightening experience and may lead to distress, anxiety, and disruptions in sleep patterns. However, it does not pose any long-term physical harm.

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