How To Wake Up From Sleep Paralysis?

Understanding Sleep Paralysis

Waking up from sleep paralysis can be a distressing and challenging experience. To effectively wake up from sleep paralysis, you should try to remain calm and focus on wiggling your fingers or toes. This small movement can often be enough to break you out of the paralysis state. Now, let’s delve deeper into what sleep paralysis is, why it happens, and additional steps you can take to manage and prevent it.

What Is Sleep Paralysis?

Sleep paralysis is a phenomenon that usually occurs when a person is either falling asleep or waking up. During this period, the person is conscious but cannot move or speak. The sensation can last from a few seconds to a few minutes and is often accompanied by feelings of fear or a sense of threat. Additionally, some individuals may experience hallucinations that can be quite terrifying.

Why Does Sleep Paralysis Happen?

Sleep paralysis is linked to the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep. During REM sleep, your brain is highly active, and vivid dreaming occurs. At the same time, your brain sends signals to inhibit muscle activity to prevent you from acting out your dreams. However, sometimes this inhibition persists even when you become partially awake, resulting in sleep paralysis.

Common Triggers for Sleep Paralysis

Understanding the triggers can be crucial in managing sleep paralysis. Some common triggers include:

Sleep Deprivation

Getting insufficient sleep or having an irregular sleep schedule can significantly increase the likelihood of experiencing sleep paralysis. Your body needs a stable routine to regulate the sleep phases accurately.

Stress and Anxiety

High levels of stress and anxiety can disrupt your sleep cycle and make you more prone to experiencing sleep paralysis. Emotional turmoil impacts the quality of sleep and can lead to frequent awakenings and fragmented sleep.

Sleep Position

Some studies suggest that sleeping on your back may increase the chances of experiencing sleep paralysis. This position can obstruct your airway and lead to more frequent episodes.

Substance Use

Using alcohol, caffeine, or certain medications can affect your sleep cycle and increase the probability of sleep paralysis. These substances can disrupt your REM sleep and result in sleep disturbances.

Steps to Wake Up from Sleep Paralysis

If you find yourself in the throes of sleep paralysis, here are some detailed strategies to help you wake up:

Stay Calm

The first and most crucial step is to remain as calm as possible. Panicking will only exacerbate the feeling of paralysis. Though it’s easier said than done, reminding yourself that the experience is temporary can help you to stay calm.

Focus on Small Movements

As mentioned earlier, try focusing on wiggling your fingers or toes. These small movements can help signal your brain to transition from the paralyzed state to full wakefulness. If you’re unable to move your limbs, try focusing on wiggling your tongue or blinking your eyes.

Control Your Breathing

Concentrate on taking deep, controlled breaths. This can help you remain calm and signal to your body that it’s time to wake up fully. Controlled breathing can also serve as a mental distraction from the fear-inducing aspects of the experience.

Use Mental Imagery

Try to focus on a positive or neutral mental image. This redirection can sometimes be enough to snap you out of sleep paralysis. Picture yourself in a safe and secure place, such as a peaceful beach or a cozy room.

Call for Help

If you live with someone, try to make a sound, like a hum or a grunt, to alert them for help. Your sleeping partner can then help rouse you from the paralytic state. While you may not be able to move or speak clearly, making any form of noise can sometimes attract attention.

Preventive Measures for Sleep Paralysis

Preventing future episodes of sleep paralysis often involves adopting healthier sleep habits and lifestyle changes. Here are some steps you can take:

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Maintain a Regular Sleep Schedule

Ensure you get enough sleep each night by sticking to a consistent schedule. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep, and try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.

Sleep Environment

Create a sleep-conducive environment by keeping your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet. Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows to improve sleep quality. Use earplugs or white noise machines if you’re sensitive to noise.

Limit Stimulants

Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol close to bedtime as these substances can disrupt your sleep cycle. Try to limit their consumption, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime.

Manage Stress

Incorporate stress management techniques into your daily routine. This could include practices like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga. Engaging in relaxing activities before bedtime, like reading a book or taking a warm bath, can also help.

Sleep Position

Experiment with different sleep positions to find one that minimizes your chances of experiencing sleep paralysis. If you typically sleep on your back, try sleeping on your side.

Understanding the Role of Diet and Exercise

Your diet and exercise habits also play a crucial role in determining your sleep quality. Here’s how:

Healthy Diet

Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can improve your overall health and help regulate your sleep cycle. Avoid heavy meals, sugary snacks, or caffeinated beverages close to bedtime.

Regular Exercise

Engaging in regular physical activity can help improve your sleep quality. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week. However, try to avoid vigorous exercise close to bedtime as it can stimulate your body and make it harder to fall asleep.

Seek Professional Help When Necessary

If sleep paralysis becomes frequent and starts affecting your quality of life, it may be time to seek professional help. A healthcare provider can evaluate your symptoms and recommend appropriate treatments. They might suggest:

Sleep Studies

Undergoing a sleep study can help identify any underlying sleep disorders that might be contributing to sleep paralysis. This typically involves spending a night at a sleep center where your sleep patterns are monitored.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT can help manage the stress and anxiety often associated with sleep paralysis. This form of therapy can provide you with strategies to handle the emotional aspects of the condition.


In some cases, medication may be prescribed to regulate your sleep patterns and reduce the occurrence of sleep paralysis. This is usually considered after other interventions have not been effective.

Finishing Thoughts

Sleep paralysis, while frightening, is generally harmless and can often be managed with lifestyle changes and stress management techniques. By maintaining a regular sleep schedule, managing stress, and adopting healthy sleep habits, you can significantly reduce the frequency of sleep paralysis episodes. If your condition persists, don’t hesitate to seek professional advice. Remember, achieving better sleep is possible with the right strategies and support.


  • Ashton Roberts

    I love learning and sharing everything about sleep. I am one of the energetic editors here at GoodSleepHub, where I talk about how to get a better night's sleep. When I'm not writing, I'm probably walking my dog Luna or trying out new sleeping gadgets. My goal is to help you sleep easier and better. Join me, and let's find simple ways to enjoy great sleep every night!

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