What Causes Sleep Paralysis?

Many individuals have trouble sleeping at night, but this could simply be due to eating too much, being stressed about something going on in their life, or another simple reason. But some individuals have trouble turning off their mind because they suffer from a disorder called sleep paralysis, which is the feeling of being conscious but being unable able to move the body in any way. Sleep paralysis can occur when the patient is trying to pass through the stages of being awake to deep sleep. While it is common for individuals struggling with sleep paralysis to find it difficult to move for a few seconds at a time, some patients actually find themselves choking or feeling intense pressure throughout their neck.

Let's take a look at the following causes of sleep paralysis to better understand the condition now.

Lack Of Sleep


Sleep deprivation can have many dangerous effects on someone's body, including causing fatigue, daytime sleepiness, clumsiness, and a fluctuation in weight in either direction. Not getting the proper amount of sleep can also have a dangerous outcome on the brain and cognitive function. A lack of sleep could also have lasting repercussions on the body, including an increased level of anxiety and stress. A prolonged lack of sleep also greatly increases an individual's risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.

Unfortunately, breaking a cycle of prolonged lack of sleep is quite difficult, and is a major contributing factor to the development of sleep disorders, including sleep paralysis.

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One sleep disorder can eventually lead to the development of another, which means narcolepsy, a sleep condition that makes a person fall asleep whenever they find themselves in a relaxing environment, could eventually lead to sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis is one side effect of this disorder, along with an extremely high level of daytime sleepiness, cataplexy (strong levels of emotion results in a patient suffering from a physical collapse while remaining in a conscious state of mind), and hallucinations. The main cause of an individual developing narcolepsy centers around the brain not producing enough of the chemical hypocretin. Hypocretin is used to regulate the amount of sleep we get versus what we need. This deficiency in the production of hypocretin is a confused reaction of the immune system attacking a part of the brain it is not supposed to.

Continue reading to reveal more causes of sleep paralysis now.

Leg Cramps At Night


Leg cramps occur at night when an individual is trying to go to sleep or when they have already entered the stages of sleep. These cramps are feelings of intense and serious pain in the lower leg or foot. This pain is caused when the muscles begin to contract and tighten without having the power to control the leg motions. The begins slow and can remain in the body for only several seconds, or it can last for several minutes. The number of leg cramps a patient can experience varies per person, with some only having to go through this once per year and others experiencing leg cramps every single night. Ways to relieve the pain include stretching the muscle experiencing the pain, massaging the muscle, applying a heated pad, or simply trying to move the muscle soothingly. These leg cramps at night can have nasty effects on an individual's sleep schedule. They can prevent individuals from falling asleep, the pain can disturb sleep, and the aftereffects of the pain can make it extremely difficult for individuals to fall back to sleep again. Additionally, sometimes lep cramps can make it difficult or impossible for an individual to move without excruciating pain for a few moments, which may result in sleep paralysis.

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Changing Sleep Schedules

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It's no secret a regularly changing sleep schedule will have a negative effect on the body. If individuals find themselves constantly changing their sleep schedule due to work, family commitments, or prior engagements, they need to understand the effects this can have on their body both physically and mentally. Studies have shown individuals who have changing sleep schedules have a greater risk for developing health disorders, such as higher levels of cholesterol, higher insulin levels, a higher body mass index, and larger waist size. An irregular sleep schedule will also be mentally exhausting. It will cause fatigue, daytime sleepiness, and can eventually lead to major sleep disorders, including sleep paralysis.

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Mental Health Issues

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Certain mental health issues can increase an individual's risk of developing sleep paralysis, as recent studies have shown there is a direct connection between sleeping disorders and mental illnesses. This is because sleeping disorders can create such stress and mental fatigue on an individual that a mental illness, such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder, is bound to occur. One of the most common mental illnesses directly linked to sleep paralysis is anxiety. Anxiety is a disorder generally associated with panic and fear, with an underlying disability of not being able to remain in a calm state. Treatment of these conditions is key not only to preventing sleep paralysis from developing, but also to treat sleep paralysis once it has occurred.


    HealthPrep Staff