What is Sleep Paralysis, and Can You Prevent It?

While it’s hardly widespread – it only really affects 7.6% of the general population, actually – sleep paralysis, or the sensation of waking up and finding yourself unable to move and feeling kind of paranoid as a result, can leave you with a ton of questions. But to help you better understand the phenomenon, we break it down a bit below.

What is Sleep Paralysis?

Sleep paralysis is pretty much what it sounds like, only you’re not sleeping when it happens. Imagine you’ve just woken up from a long night’s slumber, you’re aware of your surroundings, but something’s not right: you’re totally paralyzed, unable to move or speak. You could even see things that aren’t real or hear bizarre noises. Sound familiar? If so, you’ve definitely experienced sleep paralysis.

What’s Going On?

As far as science can determine, parts of your brain have woken up, but the parts that control movement are still deep in the zzz’s. But even if you know what’s happening, episodes can be extremely upsetting for sufferers and definitely don’t help start the day on the right side of the bed.

Who Does It Happen To?

Sleep paralysis can happen to quite literally anyone at any time, and according to a review published in Sleep Medicine Reviews, 7.6 percent of the general population has experienced sleep paralysis at least once. Women are generally more prone to experiencing sleep paralysis than men, and people with anxiety disorders are more at risk than the rest of the population.

What Can I Do About It?

Unfortunately, not much. The only way to break the episodes are to either wake up completely or fall back asleep and try again. There’s no real way to predict when sleep paralysis might strike, either, but poor sleeping habits are a big contributing factor. So set up a nightly routine to ensure solid sleep, and stick to it!