Do You Ever Wake Up and Can’t Move? THIS is Why!

But, if the brain is awake, why can’t the body move?


It all has to do with the three or four stages of non-REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and one specific REM state. It is possible to dream in all stages of sleep, but the dreams experienced in REM sleep appear to be more vivid and real.

The brain is extremely active during REM sleep, and people become paralyzed during REM. Although researchers are unsure of the reason, many believe it is so the body does not act out the dream. This is called REM atonia.

Most people who wake up suddenly can move easily. However, those who cannot move after waking experience sleep paralysis. It is REM atonia continuing after waking. Most of the time, this experience lasts a few seconds to a minute (I am sure it feels much longer). However, in rare cases, some people need 10 to 15 minutes to regain motion.

Many people feel a presence when they are in the clutches of sleep paralysis. Researchers are not sure what causes this, but they do have some ideas. One is that the figure is the mind’s attempt to create the movement it can’t actually do. Basically, the brain is saying, “I can’t move your arms, but here is a nice hallucination of your arms moving.”

Another guess is that amygdala is to blame. The amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for fear, becomes overactive and Denis explains the result:

“You wake up with your amygdala screaming, ‘There’s a threat! So your brain has to invent something to fix the paradox of the amygdala being active for no reason.” (Business Insider)

The amygdala does remain active during sleep, but sleep paralysis sends it into overdrive. This makes sense because the whole scenario sounds terrifying.

Different Types of Sleep Paralysis

According to an in-depth study performed in 1999, there are three types of hallucinations that can occur during sleep paralysis: “incubus”, “intruder”, and “unusual bodily experiences”.



People feel intense pressure on their chests and they feel they cannot breath. However, this is only a mental game. It feels like they can’t breath because they are afraid. Also, the body is still in REM breathing mode which is very shallow. It would seem strange to anyone.

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