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Waking Up To Find Myself Completely Paralyzed

The other day, after coming home from work, I decided to take a quick nap but when awaking from my nap I could not move, speak, or barely breathe! I was terrified and confused, I didn't know what to do, it felt like something or someone was holding me down or even smothering me.

I laid there trying to move anything I could possibly move but I was unable to even move my lips to call for help. This incident lasted for about five to ten minutes long, I've tried researching on this subject but all the answers I have come across just don't seem right. This wasn't the first time it had happened either.

Kevin: Hey there, thanks for writing in and sharing your experience. What you describe is an episode of sleep paralysis. They can occur before and after full nights of sleep, but often occur even more often after naps because of the increased odds of waking up during REM sleep.

The body paralyzes itself during REM sleep (the paralysis is known as REM atonia) to prevent it from acting out the dreams that are going on in your mind during this stage of sleep. When you experience sleep paralysis it is often because you have awoken during REM sleep and the atonia is a little slow to go away. For more on why sleep paralysis occurs, check out this part of the site.

Hope this information helps. If you have any questions feel free to ask them using the "Post Comments" link below.


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Welcome! This site is continuously being created by students of Dr. William C. Dement's Sleep And Dreams course at Stanford University.

We made this site as a call to action for people all over the world to live healthier, happier, safer, and more productive lives by learning about their own sleep. We have faith that reading the information provided on this site will motivate you to be smart about your sleep deprivation and strategic about your alertness in order to live life to your fullest, most energetic potential.

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The Stanford Sleep Book

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Dr. Dement's pioneering textbook has been the core text for Sleep and Dreams since 1980, but it has just recently been made available to the wider public for the first time.

In it you'll find a more detailed account of the most important things you need to know about sleep, alertness, dreams, and sleep disorders. Studies, statistics, plus plenty of Dr. Dement's classic anecdotes painting the history of sleep medicine.

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More Sleep Resources

The Zeo

A revolution in personal sleep tracking, the Zeo is a wireless headband that transmits your brainwaves in realtime to a dock (pictured here) or your smartphone. The result? You can wake up and see exactly what stages of sleep you were in during the night! Unprecedented personalized sleep knowledge.

Sleep Paralysis: A Dreamer's Guide

Sleep Paralysis Treatment Book

Ever woken up paralyzed? A surprising number of us have, believe it or not. But few know the actual causes of this phenomenon, and fewer still how to exert control over it. Dream researcher and sleep paralysis expert Ryan Hurd shares breakthrough insights into how to do just that.

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