10 Scary facts about sleep paralysis

Written by Robin Okwanma

Sleep paralysis is a phenomenon that has puzzled and terrified people for centuries. It’s a peculiar condition that affects nearly half of the world’s population at least once in their lives. Yet, many are unaware that this eerie experience has a name and a scientific explanation.

What exactly is sleep paralysis?

In essence, sleep paralysis is a state where you find yourself awake and aware, but completely unable to move or speak. It usually occurs when you’re transitioning into or out of sleep, leaving you trapped in a twilight zone between wakefulness and dreaming

Here are some scary facts about sleep paralysis.

You’re more likely to experience sleep paralysis when sleeping on your back

Studies carried out by scientist show that most episodes of sleep paralysis experienced by various individuals usually happen when laying on their back. This position somehow makes it easier for the body to enter this state of involuntary immobility.

Anxiety and Stress may trigger sleep paralysis

Scientists have also noticed that irregular sleep or lack of sleep can also lead to sleep paralysis. Emotional stress and irregular sleep patterns are common triggers for sleep paralysis episodes. It seems that when our minds are restless, our bodies are more prone to this strange state.

You’ll be unable to speak or move

The scariest fact about sleep paralysis is the inability to move a muscle. You might have the urge to scream for help, but you’ll realize you cant utter a sound. The hallmark of sleep paralysis is the inability to move or speak. It’s a profoundly unsettling experience, as you might desperately want to cry out for help but find yourself utterly voiceless.

It can last for several minutes

Normally it lasts for just a few seconds, but sometimes it can last for several minutes or more. This can cause fear and panic to the individual experiencing it.

Hallucinations might occur

People might hallucinate during sleep paralysis which can make the whole experience worse and scarier. This is because dreaming becomes more vivid and realistic as you’re in-between being asleep and awake.

It might become difficult to breathe or the feeling of being choked might occur

Not being able to move all of a sudden can cause lots of reactions some including breathing difficulties. You might also feel like you’re being chocked or there is a  heavy weight on your chest.

It can escalate and become frequent

It is rare for this to happen frequently but if this happens, it is advised you meet a doctor. This could just be a side effect or a symptom of a bigger problem usually brain related.

It may be linked to Nacrolepsy

It has also been observed that sleep paralysis are linked to people with nacrolepsy. Nacrolepsy is when someone has an excessive tendency to fall asleep at irregular and relaxing moments and has no control over it.

Anyone can experience it

Sleep paralysis is a natural occurrence meaning that it can happen to anyone. although its more common with young adults and people with history of mental illness.

The experience  is Different for everyone

Although the sleep paralysis itself is the same, it is rarely the same experience for everyone and is mostly personal.

You can’t wake yourself up, there is no off switch

Some may say attempting to move your toes or fingers will end it but in reality, you just have to wait it out and let your mind take full control…. NO ESCAPE


Sleep paralysis remains a mysterious and haunting phenomenon. While connections to mental health, sleep habits, and even narcolepsy have been identified, the true cause remains elusive. Throughout history, various cultures have attributed sleep paralysis to supernatural forces like witches, demons, and aliens, adding to the fear and mystique surrounding it.

Despite the terror it can induce, it’s important to remember that sleep paralysis is not deadly nor does it cause physical harm. Understanding what it is and what triggers it can help demystify the experience and reduce the fear associated with it. So, the next time you find yourself in the grip of sleep paralysis, remember that you’re not alone, and it will pass.



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About the author

Robin Okwanma

Hi, I'm Robin Okwanma. Software Engineer || Django, Python || React, React Native || Blogger. Technical Writer.