Sleep Education

American Academy of Sleep Medicine 

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Sleep Paralysis – Symptoms & Risk Factors


People with sleep paralysis may:
  • Be unable to move their arms and legs, body, and head when falling asleep or waking up
  • Have episodes that last from only seconds to a few minutes
It is also important to know if there is something else that is causing your sleep problems. They may be a result of one of the following:
  • Another sleep disorder such as narcolepsy
  • A medical condition
  • Medication use
  • A mental health disorder
  • Substance abuse

Risk Factors

Sleep paralysis can affect men and women of any age group. The average age when it first occurs is 14 to 17 years. It is a fairly common sleep problem. Estimates of how many people have it vary widely from 5% to 40%. You may be more likely to have it if a relative also has it.

A lack of sleep can make you more likely to have sleep paralysis. It is also more likely if you have a sleep schedule that often changes. Mental stress may also be a factor. It seems to occur more often when you sleep on your back. It may also be related to any of the following factors:
  • Bipolar disorder
  • The use of certain medications
  • Sleep related leg cramps
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