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​4 Tips​ to overco​me sleep paralysis​​

Even though the duration of a sleep paralysis episode can range from a few seconds to a few minutes, it may seem like an eternity if you’re experiencing it. Here are some tips ​on how to deal with this peculiar situation.

1. Assure yourself that you are ok​ay

When you’re afraid, you will feel the need to struggle against the sleep paralysis feeling. However, doing so will only heighten your fear response and intensify the lucid hallucination.

Instead, choose the path of least resistance. Assure yourself that you are okay and are in a sleep paralysis that is momentary. Focus on taking long, deep breaths and make an intention to come out of the paralysis.

2. Wiggle your toes or fingers​​​​​

The suffocating feeling is felt most strongly on the chest, shoulders and throat. Shift your focus to the furthest parts of your body. Moving your fingers or wiggling your toes may help break the paralysis.

3. Sleep on your side

Sleeping on your back increases the risk of experiencing sleep paralysis. Try to sleep on your left side or on your belly instead.

​​4. Have no worries​

It is also important to get adequate sleep regularly. If something is troubling you as you go to bed, write it down on a piece of paper, pray or tell yourself that the issue can be resolved tomorrow. Nothing is more important than a good night’s sleep.

When to seek help for sleep paralysis

"While an episode of sleep paralysis is not that uncommon, you should get a referral for a more thorough evaluation of other underlying sleep disorders if these features are present"​ ​​​​​says Clinical Associate Professor Ong Thun How, Senior Consultant at the Department of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine​, Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth​ group.​

  • If the episodes of paralysis are NOT associated with sleep onset or waking
  • If there is associated breathlessness or chest pain
  • If the episodes are prolonged (more than a few minutes) or if you remain weak or disoriented after the episode
  • If your sleep quality in general is poor, e.g. you feel tired or unusually sleepy through the day
  • If your bed partner says you don’t breathe normally during sleep

Click on Page 1 for the causes of sleep paralysis.

Ref: Q15​