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This is the reason why you are unable to move when you suddenly wake up from sleep!

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Sleep paralysis is a feeling of being conscious, but unable to move your body. It occurs when a person passes between stages of insomnia and sleep. 

It is certainly weird to wake up and unable to move your body as you want, even though you are completely aware of everything happening around you. This phenomenon is known as sleep paralysis and it is too frightening to experience.

A person is entirely conscious, but their body is paralysed. Since the person cannot control the body, they become aghast and disturbed.

However, you should know that this phenomenon is common and does not cause any physical harm to the body. It arises during one of two stages -“hypnagogic” and “hypnopompic.”

The first one happens before falling asleep, while hypnopompic sleep paralysis occurs as soon as the person wakes from REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.

john_henry_fuseli_-_the_nightmare
Henry Fuseli’s “The Nightmare,” 1781. 
Wikimedia Commons

As soon as we go to sleep, our body gets peaceful and the mind becomes relaxed. However, in the case of hypnagogic sleep paralysis, our mind continues to be aware while our body is in a spontaneous relief state. Therefore, the person comprehends that although they make an effort to move, they are unable and this is too terrifying and may cause a panic attack.

Also, your muscles are paralyzed during REM sleep. As soon as the person experiences hypnopompic sleep paralysis, some parts of his brain wake. This does not mean that the part of the brain that controls the REM paralysis wakes as adequately. They might stay in awaken state but cannot volunteer to control the muscles.

Some have never experienced this situation, or some have gone through it once or twice in their life. Also, others experience it often, even several times during the week.

Around 8% of the population repeatedly experiences sleep paralysis according to a study conducted at Penn State University.

People with mental disorders, depression, underlying sleep conditions, sleep apnea and anxiety are more vulnerable to continuous occurrences of sleep paralysis. 

Rachel King/Carla MacKinnon

Below is a list of all risk factors.

  • Leg cramps or Narcolepsy
  • Lack of sleep
  • Bipolar disorder or Stress
  • Substance abuse
  • Frequent changes in sleep schedule
  • Certain medications, like the ones with ADHD
  • Sleeping on the back

Symptoms

In sleep paralysis, people are unable to speak or move for several seconds or minutes, shortly after falling asleep or immediately after waking up.

There is no prescribed treatment for this as it happens naturally. However, if an expert finds another underlying condition while diagnosing, he may prescribe a treatment such as sleeping aids, 

referral to a mental health professional, sleeping schedule, anti-depressant or referral to a sleep specialist. 

Furthermore, reduce the intake of caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol/drugs and avoid keeping electronic devices close to your bed while sleeping.

If you have experienced sleep paralysis, it is nothing terrifying and it will pass soon, so you should try to stay calm.

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