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What is Sleep Paralysis

What is Sleep Paralysis

What is sleep paralysis? Put simply, it is the restriction of movement when you are falling asleep or waking up. 

It can last for seconds or even for several minutes. When this happens, you are consciously awake, but you are unable to move and sometimes you are unable to speak. 

There are other stimuli that is normally ignored by the brain, that become disproportionately significant. 

Some examples are hallucinations, sensations of fear or panic, sweating, chest pressure, headaches, feeling of doom, muscle pains, paranoia, and more. 

There have also been reports of people feeling like they are choking or pressure in the throat during sleep paralysis.

sleep paralysis demon

There have been many cases of sleep paralysis over the centuries, and it has been described in different ways. 

It was once associated with evil presences of paralysis demons. Alien abduction stories often involve being paralyzed in bed as the alien abductees stood around the helpless human. 

Regardless of the culture, there was once a story of seeing a shadowy creature of evil. But it is normal to try and rationalize what scares us or affects us in such a way. 

So hallucinations of evil creatures causing the paralysis is an understandable reaction.


There are other disorders, such as narcolepsy, that may accompany this paralysis. Narcolepsy is when you experience an overwhelming urge to sleep. 

This is caused by an issue in the brain that controls regulated sleep.

Paralysis, when you wake up or are asleep, is usually an occurrence that happens in adolescents. 

It can be triggered by a number of things; Jet Lag, Sleep deprivation, stress, panic disorder, and more. 

Predominant  sleep paralysis symptoms

The most predominant feature of sleep paralysis is the inability to speak or move. It isn’t a physically harmful occurrence, and it is something that can be prevented.

When it occurs, it can happen when you are waking up or falling asleep. When it is happening while falling asleep, it is known as hypnagogic or predormital. 


In the event it happens upon waking up, it is known as hypnopompic or postdormital.

What exactly happens when you experience Hypnagogic sleep paralysis? When you are falling asleep, your body is slowly relaxing. Normally, you begin to become less aware, and you don’t notice the change. But you may notice that you can’t speak or move if you become aware when you are falling asleep.

REM Sleep

What about Hypnopompic? This happens during sleep. Your body will alternate between rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep

NREM Sleep

They last about 90 minutes. NREM can take up to 75% of your time while you sleep, and during it, your body will relax and restore itself. When the NREM ends, your sleep will shift to REM

This is when dreams begin to occur, but during your dreams, your body remains relaxed. When this happens, your muscles turn off, and if you become aware before it is over, you will find yourself paralyzed.

In conclusion, while it is a scary occurrence when it happens to you, it is a harmless state that can be accompanied by many side effects. 

Hallucinations are normal when it happens, linking sleep paralysis to many malevolent stories about demons and aliens. 

Now you know the two different types of sleep paralysis and what causes them.

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Sterling Hayden

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