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
  • Stress
  • Lack Of Sleep

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:
chest tightness
prednisone use
being able to stay up late
sleeping less than necessary
bags under eyes
very angry/hostile disposition
having excess body fat
frequent bizarre dreams
a high-stress lifestyle
craving for salt
severe afternoon/evening fatigue
poor mental clarity
... 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
Stress 95% Confirm
Anxiety 26% Unlikely
Lack Of Sleep 1% Ruled out
Narcolepsy 1% Ruled out
Depression 0% 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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