Sleep paralysis, what it is and why it happens

Sleep paralysis, what it is and why it happens

Surely you've ever heard of the sleep paralysis. However, what exactly is it? Why does it occur? What symptoms do you have and what causes it? If you want to solve these doubts, you are in the right place.


  • 1 What is sleep paralysis?
  • 2 Why does it happen?
  • 3 Who can suffer from sleep paralysis?

What is sleep paralysis?

Sleep paralysis is a fact that occurs either when the person is about to fall asleep, or when he has just woken up, and consists of inability to move or react while conscious.

That is, during sleep paralysis, the person is not asleep, awake and fully aware, but his body is paralyzed, as he is during sleep. Thus, the person processes what happens around him, but He is unable to make voluntary movements.

This implies that he cannot speak either, which means he cannot communicate the situation he is in. That is why, although it does not involve major risks, the truth is that it can be very distressing.

In addition, you also have the feeling that you can not breathe comfortably, in a situation close to suffocation. This, as you can guess, makes the anxiety of those who are suffering from this problem grow.

Nevertheless, no risk of suffocation. Simply, the organism is functioning as when it is asleep (and, when we are asleep, we breathe at a lower rate than when we are awake).

Finally, it should be noted that sleep paralysis is usually added some subjective symptoms caused by the same situation. For example, it is normal that there are hallucinations or paranoia, imagining that there is someone nearby (usually threatening).

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Why it happens?

There is no explanation that definitely clarifies why sleep paralysis occurs, since it is something that occurs in the brain, and, as you well know, the brain is one of the least researched and known parts of the body.

However, currently the thesis that it is about a lack of coordination between some areas of the brain and the part of the nervous system that is responsible for sending orders to the muscles.

That is, when we are asleep, the brain disconnects from that part of the nervous system that sends orders to the muscles (so that the signals it sends remain in the brain, which makes us move through sleep without falling from the bed).

Nevertheless, Normally, when you wake up, that disconnection disappears automatically. And this is where the sleep paralysis appears. People who suffer from it do not have that quick reconnection (or, on the contrary, it disconnects faster from the account, in the event that it occurs before falling asleep and not upon waking up).

Fortunately, this situation is overcome with the passing of a few seconds, so that, if you are in a situation of sleep paralysis, the best thing you can do is relax and wait for that connection between the brain and the nervous system to occur again.

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Who can suffer from sleep paralysis?

Several studies have been done to analyze sleep paralysis and the first conclusion that has been reached is that, despite existing, it is a very isolated fact. However, this does not mean that you are safe.

That is to say, it is a very isolated fact in the sense that, throughout our life, we sleep more than 25,000 times (not counting naps!) And sleep paralysis can happen very occasionally.

However, next to this data, there is also that 60% of the population will suffer from sleep paralysis at some time in their life. Therefore, it may happen to you.

However, we have to insist on the fact that sleep paralysis does not entail any risk, and that the whole problem that is generated derives from the subjective feelings and sensations of who is suffering from it.

Finally, point out an obvious: If sleep paralysis happens without knowing it, it is normal to have spectacular anxiety. But if you already know what it is, like you now, the situation can be much more bearable (and even be enjoyed for how curious it is!).

So, if you have the bad luck of being a person who is within that 60% of people who will suffer sleep paralysis on occasion during their life, Our recommendation is that you relax and wait a few seconds for it to resolve.

As you can see, the sleep paralysis, despite being rare, it is important enough for us to dedicate a few words. And, why not say it, it is a subject curious enough to be interested in it. And remember: If it happens to you, above all, keep calm.