Sleep is an important part of one’s life as it allows the individual to concentrate, process thoughts and memories and it also restores one’s energy (Pacheco, 2021). When thinking of sleep, importance is placed on the duration of sleep however this is not the only important factor. The quality of sleep is another thing which should be taken into consideration (Suni, 2021). 

Why does it happen?

Sleep consists of REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-rapid eye movement) phases. During REM, dreams occur and hence muscles relax in order to safeguard the individual from acting out on a dream. Therefore, when a person is drifting to sleep or is slowly waking up (going into or coming out of REM sleep), one might experience sleep paralysis. This means that the individual is conscious but still unable to move. The rationale why this occurs is because the brain is active while the body is asleep. When it occurs while a person is falling asleep it is known as hypnagogic or predormital sleep paralysis. On the other hand, hypnopompic or postdormital sleep paralysis is when it occurs while the person is waking up (Roybal, 2020).

How it Happens

Genetics might be a reason why one experiences sleep paralysis. Nevertheless, substance abuse, changes in sleep schedule, lack of sleep, certain medications, sleeping on one’s back, some mental disorders and other sleep conditions can also contribute to this phenomenon. This is a condition that usually does not require any treatment. Nonetheless, one might require treatment for the precursor of sleep paralysis. Reducing stress in one’s life and ensuring adequate sleep can also reduce sleep paralysis (Roybal, 2020).

What to Do to Prevent it

Despite there not being a specific treatment for sleep paralysis some methods can help reduce it. These include having a sleep schedule, engaging in relaxing activities prior to bedtime, and finding a comfortable position.

If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.

Yasmine Bonnici graduated in Nursing and also completed her Masters in Counselling. She has worked with victims of domestic violence, clients dealing with suicidal ideations, bereavement, separation and anxieties. She is currently working with Willingness Team as a counsellor seeing clients who would like to explore their own identity and deal with any surfacing issues.


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Sleep Paralysis: What Is It, Causes, Symptoms and Prevention. Cleveland Clinic. (2021). Retrieved 14 March 2022, from

Suni, E. (2021). Stages of Sleep: What Happens in a Sleep Cycle | Sleep Foundation. Retrieved 8 March 2022, from