Question: What a great site!! I’ve just been reading about Sleep Paralysis and it mentions Narcolepsy. I’ll have a look at that, but it’s actually Sleep Apnoea (UK spelling) that I have got.
I used to suffer a real lot with Sleep Paralysis as I was falling asleep, and would wake up paralyzed, as you described, and felt unable to breathe – like something heavy was weighed down on my chest, yet unable to start breathing, or in fact, move a muscle.I was very frightened by this and would try to scream. Eventually a little sound would come from me and I’d wake my husband up petrified.The thing that’s confusing me is that you mention it can be caused by going straight into REM, but I didn’t think that was possible with sleep apnoea (AHI of 30). I’m on CPAP, but still have an AHI of between 3 and 10. I feel much better than I used to, but am working at getting even better (going to an ENT Surgeon soon, as my latest sleep test showed there’s still snoring going on which they think is from the upper airways). Can you tell me if the Sleep Paralysis is also linked to Central Apnoea, as my sleep clinic was wondering if I may have this as well as OSA? Here in the UK, we are years behind you in the US in our knowledge, but our medics are doing their best!Off to explore more of your site now……….Kevin’s ThoughtsHey Kath,Sorry for the bit of a delayed response to your writing–I’ve actually been traveling your homeland (the UK) for the last month, and that, in combination with a pouring in of questions to the site, has made me fall behind in responding.That aside, it is a very astute observation you make of the link between sleep paralysis and sleep apnea–a link I see from your other posts that personal experience has given you invaluable firsthand perspective on.Because of its disruptive nature, sleep apnea is known to
trigger a number of parasomnias, including sleepwalking and sleep terrors. The fact that sleep apnea wakes its victim up dozens, if not hundreds of times in severe cases, per night makes it an extremely pesky culprit in contributing to and sparking the occurrence of other conditions.

Because of all the disruptions of sleep it causes, the link between sleep apnea and sleep paralysis seems rather intuitive when we look at when sleep paralysis occurs–during arousals in REM sleep. One can imagine that frequent arousals due to sleep apnea could increase the amount of arousals during REM sleep and thus the amount of opportunities for the body to experience a sleep paralysis episode. At the same time though, we also must note the fact that frequent NREM arousals due to sleep apnea can make it harder for the sleeper to proceed to REM sleep in the first place, but I think it makes sense that the relationship should still hold despite this other factor.I don’t know of any specific studies off hand that have documented hard evidence for this link, but intuitively it sure does make sense. If I come across any studies or publications in the future I’ll be sure to update this page with them.However, you also mention experiencing sleep paralysis when falling to sleep, rather than being awoken from it. This link does not make itself nearly as intuitive, as when falling asleep the disruptive symptoms of sleep apnea haven’t occurred yet, and as a result it would be hard to attribute a sleep paralysis episode to them. It’s really interesting though that your CPAP treatment, as you mentioned in your other comment, seemed to ameliorate the sleep-onset paralysis. I’m glad it did, but don’t know myself exactly why that would be. Again, I’ll update this page if I find out anything else to this end.Thanks for your great insight Kath, and I’m really glad you are enjoying the site. Congratulations on your successful battle with sleep apnea and I look forward to hearing more from you in the future!Warmly,Kevin