Sleep Paralysis: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Diagnosed

Sleep paralysis is a temporary condition in which you are unable to move or speak for a few seconds or minutes when you are falling asleep or waking up. During an episode of sleep paralysis, you are aware of your surroundings and can hear and see things, but you cannot move or speak. Sleep paralysis is not harmful and usually goes away on its own within a few minutes.


The exact cause of sleep paralysis is unknown, but it is thought to be related to a disruption in the sleep-wake cycle. Sleep paralysis is more common in people who:

  • Have narcolepsy
  • Have irregular sleep schedules
  • Are sleep deprived
  • Are under a lot of stress
  • Have certain mental health conditions, such as anxiety or bipolar disorder
  • Use alcohol or drugs
  • Are taking certain medications


The main symptom of sleep paralysis is the inability to move or speak. Other symptoms may include:

  • Feeling suffocated or having difficulty breathing
  • Feeling like someone or something is in the room with you
  • Seeing or hearing things that are not there
  • Feeling scared or anxious


There is no specific treatment for sleep paralysis. However, there are a number of things you can do to reduce the frequency and severity of episodes, such as:

  • Getting regular sleep
  • Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule
  • Avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed
  • Managing stress
  • Treating any underlying medical conditions


Sleep paralysis is usually diagnosed based on your symptoms and medical history. Your doctor may ask you about your sleep habits, stress levels, and any other medical conditions you have. They may also do some tests to rule out other medical conditions that can cause similar symptoms.

If you are experiencing sleep paralysis, it is important to talk to your doctor. They can help you to identify any underlying medical conditions that may be contributing to your sleep paralysis and can recommend strategies to reduce the frequency and severity of episodes.

Here are some additional tips for coping with sleep paralysis:

  • Try to stay calm and remind yourself that the episode is temporary and will go away on its own.
  • Focus on your breathing and try to relax your muscles.
  • If you are unable to move, try to wiggle your fingers or toes. This can help to break the episode.
  • If you are able to move, try to change positions or get out of bed.
  • If you have frequent episodes of sleep paralysis, talk to your doctor about medication options.