What is Sleep Paralysis – Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Sleep paralysis is a naturally occurring sleep condition that causes the body to stiffen right after sleeping or waking up. This brief episode of muscle control is known as atonia.

Sleep paralysis is considered to be a parasomnia that involves abnormal behaviors during sleep. It is a temporary condition that lasts for minutes or seconds but can happen often depending on the person’s underlying conditions. This can happen while the person is asleep or awake causing a feeling of suffocation, fear and helplessness. Sleep paralysis can also combine symptoms of hallucinations and vivid dreams during sleep.

The two types of sleep paralysis include:

  • Isolated Sleep Paralysis: This type of sleep paralysis is not connected to Narcolepsy, which is defined as a neurological disorder where your brain mis-signals state of sleep and wakefulness.
  • Recurrent Sleep Paralysis: Recurrent sleep paralysis is characterized in relation to an underlying neurological or genetic disorder. In this type, the episodes occur often and are typically severe.


Listed are a few causes of sleep paralysis:

  • Sleep paralysis can be caused by irregular sleep patterns.
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Narcolepsy
  • Medicinal side effects
  • Mental health disorders


While this condition is often characterized by a loss of muscle control known as atonia. Some of the other symptoms that might accompany are:

  • Inability to move or speak
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pressure
  • Panic
  • Hallucinations
  • Hot flashes
  • Fear
  • Sudden release


Sleep paralysis can be diagnosed by a thorough discussion of the person’s medical history and symptoms. While there are no definitive tests that can detect sleep paralysis, below listed are some options employed during the process of diagnosis.

  • Medical history
  • Physical examination
  • Sleep habits discussion
  • Psychological assessment
  • Ruling out conditions that are behavioral, neurological etc.
  • Polysomnography – a sleep assessment test that tests the physiological aspects like heart rate, muscle tone, eye movement etc.


Treatment options can include:

  • Improving sleep habits – 6 to 8 hours every night
  • Using antidepressant medications
  • Treating mental health disorders
  • Treating narcolepsy or other sleeping disorders


Sleep paralysis is a disorder that affects body movement during sleep or right after waking up. This can be a frightening and troublesome experience for people due to complete unresponsiveness of our body.

While this is a rare and seldom occurring sleep disorder, if you have recurrent episodes of sleep paralysis; it is best to speak with a doctor.

Nirvana Elite Sleep and Wellness offers a wide range of remedial options for mild to severe sleep disorders. As a sleep specialist, we take pride in our expert personnel dedicated to help you achieve a restful and better sleep.

If you have any specific questions or information you would like to share and discuss, call us (832) 952-1199 or find us at 303 Longmire Rd, Suite 102, Conroe, TX 77304



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