Jennifer Haythe, M.D., assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, says that sleep paralysis can be frightening, noting that it is often associated with a sensation that there is an intruder or supernatural force in the room holding the person down. She stated that people sometimes described a sense of chest pressure, choking, and gasping for breath.

That happens because the muscles that expand your chest and keep your airway open get paralyzed too as stated by board-certified sleep medicine doctor and neurologist W. Christopher Winter, M.D., of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine.

Luckily, there are things you can do to stop or prevent sleep paralysis. Winter recommends getting eight hours of sleep a night and trying to de-stress if you’ve been anxious. ADHD meds have also been associated with sleep paralysis, says Haythe, so talk to your doctor if you recently went on a new medication and started experiencing this condition.

Also, if you find that you are having sleep paralysis a lot and you feel like you’re excessively sleepy during the day, it could be a sign of narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is characterized by feelings of strong daytime sleepiness, or sudden, irresistible bouts of sleep that can occur at any time, according to the National Institues of Health.

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