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Based on research by Denis Dan., et. al., (2015), written by Mara Rowcliffe, BS.
Have you experienced an episode of sleep paralysis? When waking up or falling to sleep, were you unable to move or speak? You may feel short of breath, a sense of danger, or a strange presence in the room.
If this has happened to you, don’t panic! Sleep paralysis is not dangerous, and most likely not a sign of a serious problem. In fact, it is relatively common as an estimated 65% of people may experience it at some point. While the cause is unknown, recent research has identified possible contributing factors. English Psychologists examined the role of heredity by evaluating 862 twins and siblings. They assessed differences in a specific gene involved in circadian rhythms, the 24-hour biological rhythms that control the sleep and wake cycle. Results revealed that genetics was a factor in 53% of cases of sleep paralysis. Participants with certain variations of the gene were more likely to experience sleep paralysis. Individuals with disrupted sleep, anxiety, stressful or traumatic events were also more likely to experience sleep paralysis.
Knowing sleep paralysis is temporary, that it will pass and understanding these physiological components can help reduce your fear associated with this potentially scary experience.
Denis, Dan., French, C. C., Rowe, R., Zavos, H., Nolan, P. M., Parsons, M. J., & Gregory, A. M. (2015). A twin and molecular genetics study of sleep paralysis and associated factors. Journal of sleep research.