why do I get sleep paralysis when I sleep on my back?

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I have been getting sleep paralysis for about the last 3 years. At first it was a terrifying experience that left me scared to go to sleep but as the episodes have become more frequent I am no longer scared. Rather than seeing the presence of a person. I now just hear things. But always unable to move or wake my self out of it. I have experienced flying, floating and the feeling of traveling into the sky at a high speeds. It always happens when i am drifting to sleep. It only feels like I have been resting my eyes for a few minutes. I always know when I am drifting into but its always to late by the time I realise. I feel a spinning sensation and think to move on my side but cant. I sometimes see images while trying to drift off but I can wake myself out of this. My question is ... why does this only happen when I go to sleep on my back. I sleep on my side every night but at times I have turned over on my back and this is when it happens. I also find that if I go to sleep thinking about things it happens. I do get enough sleep but I am finding that I am struggling to stay awake in the day. I never know how long I am in the paralysis for to know how much sleep I am getting. Is there any evidence that says it more likely to happen when asleeping on back? I just want to know why it is happening to me.

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  • Posted

    I used to suffer from Sleep Paralysis before I got diagnosed and treated for Sleep Apnoea, which in my case was causing it. Since being treated I have never had an episode in years thankfully. Daytime tiredness is a big sign of sleep apnoea and if you snore it's certainly worth investigating this. A simple sleep study will prove it. There is information on sleep apnoea on this website, British Lung Foundation's site and even my own.

    Briefly, if it's connected to sleep apnoea then what happens is you stop breathing during REM sleep (which is when we are practically paralysed) and the body kicks you out of REM sleep to rescue you. Mostly people will be kicked into a lighter stage of sleep so know nothing about it, but if the apnoea was a severe one it can move you to an awake state so you are still paralysed.

    Hope this helps.

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  • Posted

    Thank you for your reply. I had never really thought that it could be connected to something else. I kind of just thought I was weird and i don't tell anyone about it. It only seems to happen when I sleep on my back. I have also been told that I snore when I sleep on my back too. Maybe I will brave it and go to docs. I just feel so stupid when I try to explain my experiences. I reasearched today as it happened last night. I was sure my little girl was in bed with me. Shouting me but I couldn't move. I heard someone trying to get in my door downstairs. Its bizarre because I'm not scared. I know I am awake and I know what I am hearing is not really there even though it feels so real at the time. I will have a look at the link. Thank you smile smile
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  • Posted

    You're welcome smile Incidentally, sleep apnoea is also worse on the back too so it could well be linked. I never thought in a million years I had sleep apnoea until I got tested. Neither did it realise it would cure the sleep paralysis, which for me was another real bonus as mine terrified me sad
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