National Sleep Foundation

Chapter 6: Parasomnias

What is Recurrent Isolated Sleep Paralysis?

Recurrent isolated sleep paralysis is characterized by an inability to talk or move either at sleep onset or upon awakening (but while fully conscious).1 Episodes usually resolve spontaneously within seconds to minutes and can be aborted by sensory stimulation (for example, being touched or spoken to) or by an intense effort to move the body.1 Hallucinations (auditory, visual, and/or tactile) are often present during episodes.1 While paralysis at the onset of sleep may be a sign of narcolepsy, awakening with sleep paralysis is benign.


  1. American Academy of Sleep Medicine. The international classification of sleep disorders: diagnostic and coding manual. 2nd ed. Westchester, Ill: American Academy of Sleep Medicine; 2005.