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Sleep paralysis, is it dangerous?

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I've heard somewhere before that sleep paralysis can lead to forms of narcolepsy? Not only that but it's terrifying.

There are three stages of it

Hallucination phase/ intruder phase: where you believe someone has invaded your bedroom/sleeping area

Suffocation stage: you can't breathe (my hallucinations always play into this and the person invading either causes the strangulation or is trying to help me breathe)

OBE phase: You have an out of body experience, mine consist of crawling off/out of the bed, falling to the floor, floating just slightly above my body, or crawling towards the door and reaching for the handle.



I've read that it can be neurological, but I don't know if that's what it is or not? I can't afford a neurologist but this has happened to maybe five times now?


Does anyone have any kind of information on this?


I've found ways to calm the panic attacks that follow, but it's still pretty traumatic when it happens.


Thank you guys.

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I think the main question would be if it happens while waking up from sleep, or falling asleep when you shouldn't be.


If it only happens when waking up, you're probably still half dreaming and half aware that the paralysis is there, and it's scaring you.


To my understanding, the paralysis is when you wake up before the paralytic muscle chemical has dissipated.  That happened to me once.

I think narcolepsy is a completely different neurological process.


As to an underlying neurological condition, I have no idea.  But short paralysis when you wake up itself isn't something to worry about.

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My first thought is this: are you on any meds?


I had sleep paralysis every single night for over a year as a sideeffect of some anti-depressants i was on. I know it can be a common side effect of a lot of psych meds, so maybe look into that?


That having been said, 5 times is not that much at all, i wouldnt worry. And it's not dangerous, its just really really unpleasant.


Getting enough sleep and having a normal and consistent sleep cycle can help a lot. A lot of people also find that sleeping on their side helps them (its been proven that the vast majority of sleep paralysis happens when sleeping on your back). For me having an alarm on even on days off is really helpful, and having the alarm be really loud and non-stop so that i get pulled out of the paralysis. I will also say this: after having had it for a couple of months, i got used to it kind of. I could recognize that i was sleep paralysis and not real.


Another tips: dont try to move. Moving is what causes the pressure feeling on your chest. The best thing to do, if you have insight, is to just lie completely still and not even try to move. I know that can be hard, but learning to do that helped me so so so much. I mostly had strangulation + out of body experiences, but when i did have full hallucinations it was usually someone who was molesting or raping me. But after a while i could know that even the rapist was fake, i didnt make it less unpleasant but it did help me not have full blown panic attacks every time i woke up.

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It usually happens as soon as I fall asleep all the way until I wake up, it's sort of like a full dream cycle after REM sleep starts, I suppose.


Forstyrra: No meds right now, I was self medicating and coming down from self medication when it was happening worse. Thank you for sharing your experiences, and I'm very sorry that they were/are so traumatic for you :( Also, thank you very, very much for the tip! If and when it happens again I will try my hardest to remember/control that.

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If you can manage it, I'd talk to a neurologist who focuses on sleep studies.  I don't think it will lead to narcolepsy at all, but it is concerning to me that you feel you have it throughout the entire night.  During the deeper sleep stages, you shouldn't have a conscious memory.  It can seem like you do when you don't - I got to stage 4 sleep briefly in my sleep study though it never felt like it, but that wasn't normal sleep for me either (due to having difficulty being connected to stuff).  Normally there's a noticeable "dead" period where time passes and I'm not aware of it.


I'm somewhat wondering if it could be related to sleep apnea.  My paralysis happened due to waking up in a weird way suddenly.  It's possible not being able to breathe could do the same thing - and often enough that it seems to not stop.


I would also question if the paranoia stage (the first stage) is due to dreaming or something else where an AAP could help.  My gut says it's likely the former, but I don't know your dx and if it includes any mania or psychosis.


Basically, you should do a sleep study and talk with a neurologist about the results.  I don't think it's normal for you to perceive the paralysis all night.  It should only be a brief event when you wake up in the morning.

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I use to get sleep paralysis before having a psychotic episode.. I don't think its supposed to be dangerous, however, my Pdoc regularly asks me if I have sleep paralysis. It has gone away ever since. Yes, it can be quite scary afterwards, OBE, wierd things in your room, creepy - but apparently just a dream. 

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