The Basics Of Sleep Paralysis

Sleep paralysis describes the sensation of remaining awake while feeling like you cannot move, speak, or breathe. While the phenomenon seems driven by psychological problems, sleep paralysis infrequently occurs in conjunction with mental disorders. You may experience sleep paralysis either in the process of falling asleep or waking up.


Falling Asleep
While falling asleep, your body experiences a state of gradual relaxation. In some cases, you may not notice sleep paralysis due to a lowered sense of awareness, though remaining awake may lead to your observing that you cannot speak or move.


Waking Up
As you sleep, your body cycles through rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (NREM). NREM occurs before REM and constitutes three fourths of your total time sleeping. In NREM, your body focuses on rest and recovery and briefly transitions to REM, a period when you experience dreams while your muscles remain still. Should you wake before REM’s completion, you might note that you cannot speak or move.


Causes of Sleep Paralysis
Around 40% of American adults experience sleep paralysis, with prominent factors including, but not limited to:

Substance abuse, including Adderall use without a prescription.

Inadequate sleep, worsened by lack of an established sleep schedule.

Sleep disorders including narcolepsy.

Excess stress.

Resting on one’s back.

Sleep disorders like narcolepsy.

Mental illnesses, in rare instances.



When to Seek Help
While sleep paralysis frequently occurs as an isolated incident, repeated episodes warrant an appointment with a doctor, who may refer you to a qualified specialist to further explore possible health problems and whether medications may alleviate the problem. Uptown Emergency Room recognizes that multiple factors lie behind sleep paralysis, including Adderall abuse and sleep deprivation. If you are located within the Dallas area, call us at (214) 217-1818.