Sleep Paralysis

What Causes Sleep Paralysis?

Sleep paralysis can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'troubling' to 'very serious'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose sleep paralysis, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "sleep paralysis" as a symptom.  Here are five possibilities:
  • Depression
  • Narcolepsy
  • Anxiety
  • Lack Of Sleep
  • Stress

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
frequent night terrors
poor ability to relax
frequent sleepwalking
discontinued antianxiety drug use
frequent drowsiness
episode(s) of mild depression
recent serious attitude to life
angry/hostile disposition
deep chest pain
harsh punishment during childhood
prednisone use
recent oily hair
... and more than 80 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of sleep paralysis:
Cause Probability Status
Anxiety 96% Confirm
Lack Of Sleep 27% Unlikely
Depression 5% Ruled out
Narcolepsy 1% Ruled out
Stress 1% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate sleeping-related problems, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Have you experienced Sleep Paralysis? When this happens, you are awake and aware but temporarily unable to move or talk.
Possible responses:
→ Don't know
→ No, never
→ Yes, episode(s) in the past but not currently
→ Occasionally / a few episodes per year on average
→ Frequently / several episodes per month on average
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate no history of sleep paralysis, past sleep paralysis, regular sleep paralysis or frequent sleep paralysis, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
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