5 Tips to Prevent Sleep Paralysis

Waking up and not being able to move a muscle in your body is scary, but there are ways to prevent it. Put these tips into practice.
5 Tips to Prevent Sleep Paralysis

Last update: 23 April, 2021

You wake up in the middle of the night, you open your eyes, but you can’t move. A cold sweat breaks out on your back and you wonder what’s happening to you. You feel as if something is on top of you pressing on your chest. Relax, nothing unusual is going on. Today, we’ll tell you more about this problem as well as how you can prevent sleep paralysis.

The Sleep Institute (IIS) explains that sleep paralysis occurs during REM sleep, one of the most important stages of high brain activity. Fortunately, this uncomfortable feeling of not being able to move only lasts from a few seconds to a maximum of 3 minutes. But why does it appear?

What causes sleep paralysis?

If you’ve ever experienced the above sensations, you should know that sleep paralysis occurs for different reasons. The IIS mentions that they appear more frequently in shift workers or in people suffering from jet lag. Lack of a regular schedule or lack of proper sleep hygiene may be the first causes.

However, if you’re a person who’s under a lot of stress, sleep paralysis is to be expected. Your body is under stress all day long, your mind is more active than ever, and one of the ways your body reacts is by producing this phenomenon. Obviously, it’s not a pleasant experience.

Risk factors for sleep paralysis

The risk factors for sleep paralysis will help you understand why you’re suffering from these episodes. It’ll also help you to solve them.

If you take action regarding these factors, it’ll be easier to prevent sleep paralysis from recurring. Here are some that you should take into account:

  • Schedule changes: If you change shifts at work
  • Working at night: Sleeping during the day can be complicated
  • Tiredness: You’re not getting enough rest or aren’t sleeping well
  • You suffer from narcolepsy: Extreme sleepiness keeps you from resting well
  • You have a psychiatric disorder: Bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression
A person working at night.

All these risk factors can make you more prone to sleep paralysis. Identifying what’s happening to you will help you to find a solution, although it will also be useful to carry out some of the tips you’ll discover below.

Tips to prevent sleep paralysis

There are several tips to help prevent sleep paralysis. However, we’ve decided to narrow them down to five general recommendations that usually come in handy.

However, it’s always a good idea to discuss what’s happening to you with your doctor. Perhaps, there’s a specific guideline that we didn’t mention that may be better for you.

1. Exercise can be helpful

The first piece of advice is to exercise. This is good whether you suffer from sleep paralysis episodes or not.

Exercise tires you out, relaxes you, and helps your body prepare for recovery. Therefore, it’s normal to feel more exhausted after exercise and, if you go to sleep, you may sleep earlier than usual.

2. Get enough sleep

The second tip is to practice good sleep hygiene. If possible, always go to sleep at the same time. This will help your body to prepare itself beforehand.

Also, forget about sleeping a strict seven or eight hours. Ask yourself what your body needs. It doesn’t matter if it’s six hours or nine. You must get to know your own body so that you can get the rest you really need.

3. Reducing stress is a good idea

The third tip is to reduce stress. We live in a very hectic society and the current pandemic situation certainly isn’t helping you to relax.

So, even though you may think you’re calm, try introducing habits, such as exercise. This will relax you, as will meditating. You’ll feel better and calmer.

Relaxation techniques.

4. Watch your diet

The fourth of the tips to prevent sleep paralysis is to be mindful of your diet. Do you have a schedule for eating times? Do you eat nutritious food?

In supermarkets, there are many ultra-processed products that make you feel bloated, cause discomfort, and produce a feeling of fullness that can hinder rest. So, try changing your eating habits.

5. Goodbye to exciting drinks!

The fifth and last tip is to avoid stimulating drinks. It’s better to drink them very occasionally and at special moments.

We’re not just talking about coffee. Although you may have never realized it, sodas are energizing drinks. Avoid them as much as possible.

Sleep paralysis isn’t just for adults

Now that you know what sleep paralysis is and some ways to avoid it, don’t hesitate to put everything you’ve learned into practice.

Remember that paralysis isn’t something that only adults experience. The Spanish Association of Pediatrics (AEPED) clarifies that children and adolescents also suffer from it. Perhaps we should be more concerned about our sleep hygiene from now on.

It might interest you...
Understanding the Four Stages of Sleep
Step To Health
Read it in Step To Health
Understanding the Four Stages of Sleep

The stages of sleep are the periods in which changes occur while we're asleep. Many people believe that we're in a state of lethargy.



  • Martínez Carrillo, M. (2016). La parálisis del sueño: revisión teórica.
  • Núñez, J. E. C. (2011). Parálisis del Sueño. Synapsis3(2), 14-18.
  • Salín-Pascual, R. J. (2016). La autopercepción en el caso de la parálisis del sueño: Un estado de conciencia dentro del sueño MOR. Revista Mexicana de Neurociencia17(6), 72-84.
  • Scammell, TE (2015). Narcolepsia. Revista de Medicina de Nueva Inglaterra , 373 (27), 2654-2662.
  • Sánchez Guerrero, Fabián. “Calidad de vida laboral del personal de enfermería que rota turnos en un hospital privado.” (2017).