Sleep paralysis is a feeling of being unable to move, either at the onset of sleep or upon awakening.

During these transitions, you may be unable to move or speak for a few seconds up to a few minutes. Some people may also feel pressure or a sense of choking.

Sleep researchers conclude that, in most cases, sleep paralysis is simply a sign that your body is not moving smoothly through the stages of sleep. Rarely is sleep paralysis linked to deep underlying psychiatric problems.

Sleep paralysis usually occurs one of two times. If it occurs while you are falling asleep, it’s called hypnagogic, If it happens as you are waking up, it’s called hypnopompic.

Up to as many as four out of every 10 people may have sleep paralysis. This common condition is often first noticed in the teen years.

But men and women of any age can have it. Sleep paralysis may run in families (can be genetic).

Other factors that may be linked to sleep paralysis include:

  • Lack of sleep (insomnia)
  • Sleep schedule that changes
  • Mental conditions such as stress or bipolar disorder
  • Sleeping on the back
  • Other sleep problems such as narcolepsy or nighttime leg cramps
  • Use of certain medications, such as those for ADHD
  • Substance abuse

If you find yourself unable to move or speak for a few seconds or minutes when falling asleep or waking up, then it is likely you have isolated recurrent sleep paralysis.

Often there is no need to treat this condition. If it persists, then visit your doctor In case of underlying health conditions.

If you know anyone who normally has it, the best way to wake them up is to “wiggle” them till they regain strength, and advise strongly to go for a check-up.

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