Person screaming wake up

Toddler Wakes Up Crying Every Morning

Frustrated when your toddler wakes up crying every morning? See the reasons behind the hysterical wake-ups, and what to do to turn it around.

His cries and screams were enough to test anyone’s patience—that my toddler started them first thing in the morning didn’t help at all.

No matter what, it seemed like he was set on waking up cranky and crying right from the start. While my other two kids were content to eat breakfast, he’d stay rooted in his room, refusing to leave.

Any attempt to coax him out or at least cheer him up didn’t seem to work. You could say he wasn’t exactly a “morning person.”

For many parents, the mornings are already off to a rocky start when their toddlers always wake up miserable. It’s hard dealing with kids when they rarely wake up happy, and instead cry and scream.

Table of Contents

When your toddler wakes up crying every morning

Perhaps you can relate. Maybe you’ve also tried comforting your toddler to no avail, or need to hold her for a long time before she finally calms down.

Thankfully, she doesn’t wake up in the middle of the night, and she even eventually snaps out of it and is happy the rest of the day. And most kids will simply outgrow cranky awakenings (even if it seems like forever in the moment).

But sometimes your toddler might not be getting enough sleep—or enough continuous sleep—to wake up refreshed in the mornings. Perhaps she doesn’t know how to put herself back to sleep in the early mornings, and wakes up grumpy from the lack of rest.

Thing is, grumpy wake-ups are so stressful that they can easily set the tone and leave a bad taste for the rest of the day, no matter how positive you try to be.

Don’t worry, friend—you’re not stuck. As always, check in with your pediatrician to rule out a sleep disorder or other issues. Otherwise, parents like you have found ways to resolve this common problem after reading this article. As one mom said:

“Thank you so much for posting this, it is some solid advice and I feel so much better knowing I am not alone!” -Maureen

You can take an active role in helping your toddler cope with difficult mornings and help her wake up happy with these tips:

1. Have an earlier bedtime, even by 15 minutes

One of the most common reasons your toddler wakes up crying every morning is because she’s still tired.

Many kids struggle with going back to sleep (until now, mine hardly “sleep in” in the mornings), even when they could clearly use it. And sometimes it’s difficult to do, what with the sun rising at a certain time or sleep associations that are hard to break.

To accommodate your toddler’s sleep needs, move the bedtime routine earlier, even by 15 minutes. In fact, don’t push bedtime back any more than 15 minutes at a time. For instance, if bedtime is at 8pm, see what a 7:45pm bedtime looks like. If you think she can use more sleep, go for 7:30pm the next night.

This can help her get the hours of sleep she needs while still waking up at the same time in the mornings.

Free resource: Do you struggle with getting her to sleep at nap time? Grab your copy of The Five Habits That Will Make Your Child’s Naps Easier! Discover the five steps you need to do to finally get a break while she naps. You’ll also get my newsletters, which parents say they LOVE:

“Nina, thank you so much for this one, I really needed it with my 2 year old.” -Jacqueline K.


Tell your toddler to wake up happy the night before

This advice seems so strange… until you try it.

We forget how powerful messages can be in affecting our behavior, especially right before sleep. After all, our minds are still hard at work, even when we’re fast asleep.

I don’t know about you, but when I go to sleep with a worry or fear in my mind, I don’t always wake up in the best of moods. But when I tell myself that I’ll have a good night’s sleep and wake up feeling positive, that’s exactly what happens.

Try talking to your toddler about how she’ll wake up happy in the morning. Don’t make it a threat (“You should wake up happy tomorrow!”), but rather, plant the idea that she can wake up feeling happy.

You might say, “Have a good night! Tomorrow, you can wake up happy and excited for the day.” She might even repeat it to herself as a bedtime affirmation: “I’ll wake up happy and excited.”

Remaining calm during this time will also help. Your words will have no meaning if your facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice show anxiety and frustration.

Get tips on what to do when your toddler is hysterical at bedtime.

3. Cuddle with your toddler before wake-up time

I thought I was doing the right thing by letting my toddler sleep in. While his brothers would head to the dining table to eat breakfast, I kept his room dark, with the door only slightly propped open.

But every morning, he’d wake up crying, upset that he had been “left behind. ” He woke up startled to find himself alone, rather than grateful for being able to sleep in.

So, I started to beat him to the punch. Instead of waiting for him to wake up cranky, I’d cuddle with him while he was still stirring and waking up.

When he was in his crib or toddler bed, I’d sit next to him and hold him as much as I was able to. When he transitioned to a twin bed, I’d literally climb into his bed and hold him, gently easing him into wake-up time.

By cuddling with your sleeping child before she wakes up, you help transition her from sleep into awake time. And since you’re next to her, she’s less likely to throw tantrums once she’s fully awake and alert.

Bonus tip: If she likes to drink milk after waking up, bring her sippy cup with you. She’ll have her milk ready to go, giving her one less reason to fuss.

Learn how to wake a sleeping toddler peacefully.

4. Equip your toddler with tools to cope

Your toddler’s behavior can feel extra exasperating because it seems like a paradox. On one hand, you know he’s tired, but on the other, he refuses to keep sleeping. The thought of anyone else waking up screaming and crying seems almost ridiculous.

Except… this is you looking at the situation from your point of view. When you see it from his, then his behavior begins to make more sense, especially when you realize he may not know how to manage his big emotions.

And big emotions he has. You know it’s morning time and can situate yourself easily. But he might be coming out of bad dreams, night terrors, or separation anxiety at night. He could be experiencing changes like potty training or cutting teeth.

And, unlike adults, he’s still learning how to cope when these feelings and experiences arise.

As I say in my book, No Cranky Naps:

“You can’t control how your child wakes up, but you can control how you respond to him. And rather than getting into epic battles, assume the role of a coach who can help him get through big feelings.

So, it’s up to you to show him how to manage this discomfort. Keep in mind, childhood is one long learning moment, where we often find ourselves having to repeat the same things over and over. But it’s in these daily, teachable moments that he learns how to better cope.

Start by labeling his feelings. The more he can use words to express how he feels, the less likely he’ll cry. Describe how he feels, from “mad” and “sad,” to “excited” and “happy.”

And give him an action plan, equipping him with things he can do when he wakes up, instead of getting upset.

Maybe he gets out of bed and finds you, or he can play with toys in his room while he waits. He can hold onto his lovey or blanket, sing songs, or tell stories. Give him options to replace his current behavior.

Learn how to discuss emotions with your toddler.

5. Factor in your toddler’s wake-ups into your morning

One of the reasons you’re likely losing your cool is because your toddler’s behavior feels like a major disruption to your morning. If you’re like me, you have a morning routine geared to getting out the door on time—any misstep can throw the whole day off.

But since your toddler wakes up crying every morning, rearrange the start of your day to factor in her behavior.

You could wake up earlier to get breakfast started and dress for the day. Aim to leave later in the morning so that any delay doesn’t make you feel like you’re running late. Keep your mornings slow instead of rigid and fast-paced.

By working your mornings around her cranky wake-ups, you give yourself time to focus on her needs without added stress factors.

Learn what to do when your 2 year old refuses to sleep.

What to do with early wake ups?

What do you do if your toddler is waking up not only crying, but early in the morning?

You want him to sleep later because he’s clearly tired, but he won’t. Waking up even earlier than him won’t work since you need your sleep, too. And it doesn’t help that he cries inconsolably every morning, angry at the new day.

How can you get him to wake up happy and later in the morning?

Start by setting an expectation of what time he should wake up—let’s say 6:30am. If he wakes up at 5:40am, calmly walk in, make sure all is fine, and let him know that it’s not time to wake up yet. Close the door and leave the room.

Check in every few minutes doing the same thing (without staying too long each time), until 6:30am. You’ll likely repeat this the next few mornings until he gets the point that waking up doesn’t mean it’s time to start the day.

Over time, he might even learn to soothe himself back to sleep, or at least learn that it’s okay to wake up calmly and enjoy the morning while he waits for you.

Tip: Get an alarm clock or timer that lights up at a certain time. This can be his cue that it’s officially time to wake up.

Learn how to respond to your toddler waking up at 4am in the morning.


Starting your day off hearing your toddler screaming isn’t easy for any parent, but now you have a few strategies to cope.

Rearrange your schedule by trying an earlier bedtime, even by 15 minutes. Factor her behavior into your mornings so you don’t feel rushed or frazzled when it happens.

Cuddle with her before she wakes up to prevent her fussiness from getting out of control. Equip her with tools to cope by encouraging her to use words to label feelings, or suggesting things to do when she wakes up.

And finally, tell her to be happy the night before. Positive affirmation right before sleep can help her rest soundly and wake up happy.

I’m pleased to report that my son no longer woke up screaming every morning. Regardless of whether he was in deep sleep or stirring throughout, he outgrew the phase, especially with the help of the tools we discussed.

And perhaps that’s the most important thing to remember: that all kids will outgrow this, including your toddler. Even if he doesn’t seem like a “morning person.”

Get more tips:

  • What to Do When Your Toddler Is Hysterical at Bedtime
  • Top 6 Tips to Get Through the Toddler Sleep Regression
  • Transitioning to a Toddler Bed at 18 Months
  • How to Create a Successful Toddler Sleep Schedule
  • Brilliant Tips to Stop Your Toddler Waking Up Too Early

Don’t forget: Join my newsletter and grab your copy of The Five Habits That Will Make Your Child’s Naps Easier:

Symptoms, Causes, and How to Stop Them

Night terrors are recurring episodes where you might cry out, move around erratically, or show other signs of distress while you sleep. And unless a startled partner or roomie relays all the deets of your shouting and flailing — you might not know it’s even happening.

But wait, aren’t night terrors just a kid thing? Even though night terrors are more common in kids, an estimated 1 to 2 percent of adults get them, too. And since many people don’t remember these episodes, this figure could be higher.

If you’re an adult with night terrors, here’s what to know.

What causes night terrors in adults?

Scientists don’t exactly know what causes night terrors in adults (or people of all ages). Mental health conditions, breathing issues, and other factors that impact sleep (e.g., restless leg syndrome and alcohol) may play a role.

Night terrors often begin with you sitting up and bed and crying out. These episodes can last from 45 to 90 minutes, though timing can vary a lot. Night terrors can also happen on the reg or just a few times a year.

Other night terror symptoms may include:

  • screaming
  • thrashing or flailing
  • breathing rapidly
  • staring blankly
  • fast heart rate
  • feeling flushed or sweaty
  • appearing confused or disoriented
  • jumping or running around
  • becoming aggressive (especially if someone tries to stop you)

Most night terrors happen during non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, which is basically a state between sleep and awake. In this state, you’re unlikely to wake up during the episode or recall WTF happened. But compared to kids, adults are more likely to get night terrors at any stage of the sleep cycle, which means they’re also more likely to remember what went down.

If an adult thrashes during a night terror, they may also injure themselves or anyone nearby.

Night terrors are a type of parasomnia — aka a sleep disorder that involves physical events or experiences that disrupt your Zzz’s.

No one knows why so many kids (about 30 percent) get night terrors compared to just 2 percent of adults. Here’s a look at some potential night terror causes if you’re all grown up.

Mental health conditions

Some experts believe adults who have night terrors tend to live with mood-related mental health conditions like:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • bipolar disorder

Night terrors may also be associated with trauma or chronic stress.

But since there’s limited research on the link between night terrors and mental health conditions, we don’t know if it’s a legit cause.

Breathing issues

Respiratory conditions like sleep apnea could potentially boost your risk of having night terrors.

In a small 2003 study of 20 people, researchers found that those with disruptive sleep disorders (like night terrors) were more likely to experience breathing troubles while sleeping. Scientists think the extra effort needed to breathe might trigger arousals and abrupt wake-up calls that look like night terrors.

Though the research is limited, they could be onto something.

Other factors that affect sleep

The research on what causes night terrors is pretty murky, but other factors that *might* cause these dreamtime episodes include:

  • restless leg syndrome
  • sleep deprivation
  • fatigue
  • travel-related sleep disruptions
  • meds like stimulants or antidepressants
  • fever or illness
  • alcohol use

They might both be frightening, but night terrors and nightmares aren’t one and the same.

Here are the main distinctions between the two:

  • During a night terror, you’re unlikely to wake up. You’re much more likely to wake up during a nightmare.
  • You’ll typically stay asleep during a night terror and won’t know what happened. When you wake up mid-nightmare, you’ll usually remember the gist of it. (Maybe that vampire was inches away from your neck, or your boss was just about to fire you!)
  • Night terrors typically happen during NREM sleep. Meanwhile, nightmares usually happen during REM sleep.
  • Your eyes will often be open during night terrors. Your eyes won’t look wide awake during your average nightmare.

While there’s currently no tried-and-true way to stop night terrors, the following prevention tips might help.

Create a healthy sleep routine

Getting more restful sleep on a regular basis might help halt your night terrors. To create a more peaceful sleep regimen, try these tips for better Zzz’s:

  • Ban blue light at night. You’ve prob heard this one before, and that’s because it really helps! Try to turn off your TV, laptop, smartphone, and all other electronics at least an hour before bed. Blue light and excess stimulation before shuteye can disrupt your sleep rhythm.
  • Relax and unwind. Try taking a bath, meditating, or reading a book before bed instead (preferably not true crime or a Stephen King novel!). Create a quiet, comfy, and dark space to sleep. Blackout curtains or white noise might help.
  • Curb caffeine and alcohol. Limiting caffeine and alcohol — especially later in the day — might help you rest more easily and avoid sleep disturbances.
  • Reserve your bed is for sleep and sex. Doing other things like working, watching TV, or taking stressful phone calls in bed can cause your brain to think that bedtime = awake time. Reserving your bed for sleep and sex may help create the cozy sanctuary you need to doze off more deeply.

Seek support from loved ones

If your night terrors tend to go down around a certain time, try setting an alarm or having a loved one wake you up about 15 minutes before an episode. Stay awake for about 10 minutes before falling back asleep.

Experts usually advise against rousing someone mid-episode, since there’s always the possibility that the person experiencing the night terror could react violently.

Alleviate stress and deal with trauma

Since night terrors could possibly signal underlying stress, trauma, anxiety, or depression, it may help to address these concerns. Some potential ways to heal include:

  • visiting a therapist or another mental health professional
  • meditating regularly
  • practicing yoga
  • hypnotherapy
  • doing deep breathing exercises
  • practicing mindfulness

How to help a partner with night terrors

  • Don’t wake up your loved one mid-episode. They could become confused, upset, or violent.
  • Lend nonphysical comfort. Talk to them in a calm, quiet voice. Maybe gently suggest that they return to bed.
  • The day after the incident, try to offer support and understanding.
  • Consider encouraging them to track episodes in a sleep journal, visit a therapist or doctor, or take up a mindfulness practice like meditation.

Night terrors aren’t technically a part of a diagnosable condition according to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Instead, they’re a combo of conditions like nightmare disorder, NREM sleep arousal disorder, and REM sleep behavior disorder.

Though night terrors don’t always require treatment, you may want to see a pro if you:

  • feel they have a negative impact on you, your roommate(s), partner, or family
  • often wake up still tired
  • feel the episodes affect your day-to-day life
  • think your actions during episodes could harm you or someone else

Visiting a sleep specialist or reaching out to a doctor or therapist may help you find the relief you need.

Night terrors are episodes that can cause you to shout, flail or do other things in your sleep. Even though they’re more common in children, adults get them, too.

No one knows for sure what causes night terrors, but underlying stress, anxiety, or other mental health conditions could play a role.

If you feel like your night terrors are negatively impacting your life or could harm you or a loved one, talking with a doctor, sleep specialist, or therapist may help you find the support you need.

Who screams and fights most often in their sleep

People with post-traumatic disorder and other mental illnesses, as well as those on antidepressants, most often fight and scream in their sleep, scientists have found. They hope that the identified connection will help in finding a solution to the problem.

Taking antidepressants, a diagnosed post-traumatic or anxiety disorder increases the risk of behavioral disorders in the REM phase - yelling and even fighting, experts from the American Academy of Neurology found. The study was published in the journal Neurology .

In REM sleep, the brain is most active. On average, the cycle of REM and non-REM sleep is repeated four to five times per night. The duration of each subsequent phase increases, and the depth of sleep decreases. REM sleep phases make up 20-25% of a night's sleep, about 90-120 minutes, one phase lasts 10-20 minutes and alternates with a slow-wave sleep phase.

During REM sleep, the brain normally controls the body so that it does not move - if you wake up at this time, you can experience sleep paralysis.

But with conduct disorder, this control is weakened and the person may scream, swing his arms and legs, injuring himself or a partner.

Such disorders are widespread in people with Parkinson's disease - their frequency among patients can reach 80-90%.

"While much is still unknown about REM sleep behavior disorder, it can be caused by medication or indicative of the onset of a neurological disease such as Parkinson's disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, or multiple system atrophy," says Dr. Ronald Postuma of McGill University. in Canada, member of the American Academy of Neurology. “Identification of the lifestyle and personal risk factors associated with this sleep disorder will reduce the likelihood of developing it.”

Researchers studied data from over 30,000 study participants aged 45-85. They found out the features of their lifestyle, health status, behavior, and the influence of social and economic factors on their lives.

In addition, each participant answered the question: “Have you ever been told or noticed that you perform some actions during sleep?”.

958 people, or 3.2%, answered this question in the affirmative. The researchers did not take into account the responses of people with Parkinson's disease and dementia.

It turned out that among them there were 2.5 times more people who took antidepressants than among those who did not fight in their sleep. Also, people with REM sleep behavior disorder were 2.5 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. They were twice as likely to suffer from mental illness and more than 1.5 times as likely to experience psychological stress.

In addition, men experienced REM sleep behavior disorder twice as often as women. A quarter more likely than not, participants with the disorder were overindulgent in alcohol consumption. Finally, they were less educated, had lower incomes, and were more likely to smoke.

“Our study does not suggest that these factors cause conduct disorders, but they are definitely associated with them,” says Postuma. “We hope that our findings will be useful for future research, especially as REM sleep behavior disorder is a hallmark of a future neurodegenerative disease. The more we know about conduct disorder, the better we will be able to prevent neurological diseases such as Parkinson's disease."

Previously Gazeta.Ru wrote that French somnologists found out what people talk about in their sleep. It turned out that people most often say “No”, turn to an invisible interlocutor and swear, but polite words come out of their mouths very rarely. Almost half of the words were interjections like "Oh!" and “Eh!”, but there were also full sentences, such as “I don’t know if I touched it or not”, “You are a little trash because you roam the streets” and even

“Well, did someone tell you, what are you charming? What? Hasn't a cute guy ever told you that you're adorable? What's wrong with them, these guys? Are they gay or what?

Only 12 speech samples contained polite words, while “whore” and “shit” were used 43 times and 21 times, respectively.

"Inside myself, I screamed like a cut, but my mouth refused to open." Minsk residents tell what it's like to live with sleep paralysis

If, upon waking up, you couldn't move, left your body, heard otherworldly voices and saw strange figures, don't be afraid - you are not alone. And what's more, it's the norm. We talked with Minsk residents with terrible sleep disorders and with a somnologist to dispel all myths.

student I just entered the university, settled in a hostel and plunged headlong into all the delights of student life. Studying, constant hanging out with new friends, the first independent decisions - in general, non-stop mode and constant emotional upsurge. Apparently, this alignment led to what happened.

I woke up one night in the middle of the night and realized that I was completely paralyzed: I couldn't move a finger. Just the realization of this, of course, brought me into a state of panic horror. But, when in the middle of the room I saw a figure in black, who leaned over me and began to whisper something, I realized that now I could literally die of fear. I saw my peacefully sleeping neighbors, heard cars outside the window and clearly realized that I was not sleeping. But all other otherworldly factors simply did not fit in my head, a rather skeptical person.

It's even funny to talk about everything that happened now, because it sounds absolutely unrealistic. But then I felt animal fear, wild panic and a desire for all this to end as soon as possible. Of course, I tried to move and scream. I strained my vocal cords so that it seemed to me that I had to yell at the whole hostel. The muscles already simply ached from tension, but everything was in vain: apart from a barely audible lowing, cold sweat and growing horror, nothing came out.


How it all ended, I remember vaguely: either I passed out from fear, or fell asleep again. The next morning I got up with the clear thought that I had lost my mind. It was a working day, but there could be no question of any university: during that night I experienced such emotional stress that I would not be surprised if I turned gray.

At first I sobbed into the phone to my mother, who was also frightened in earnest, then I pulled myself together and spent the rest of the day looking for information on the Internet. I probably read all the Russian-language articles on this issue. Fortunately, in the digital age it was not difficult to find them, although the information was rather scarce and sometimes contradictory. In any case, at least I was convinced that I was not crazy, but everything that was happening was just a visual hallucination combined with sleep paralysis. Although for at least a few weeks I was terribly afraid to fall asleep and took sedatives. Well, I tried to get rid of the advice of relatives to go to church.

It dawned on me later that this was not the first time something like this had happened to me: at the age of five I encountered the same thing, but, due to my age, I took it just for a nightmare. Although my parents still remember how I cried all morning, claiming that I saw “Dyudyuk” at night and could not run away from her. This, if you remember, is a harmful, but completely harmless character of the Soviet cartoon, which, however, made an indelible impression on my childish psyche (laughs).

Now I know enough about this phenomenon not to add any mysticism to it. In fact, anyone can face this, and, as I understand it, the only prevention is a measured calm life, devoid of strong emotional outbursts, and a good sleep. And since I don’t have the slightest opportunity to follow these rules with my current rhythm of life, I, in general, am ready for the fact that someday I will encounter this. I understand that I will not be able to keep my composure in any case, but I hope there will be less panic.


“I WAS CONSTANTLY Nervous and Under Stress”

– It happened for the first time when I was about 22 years old. At that time, I just got divorced, and my wife and I did not part very well. Therefore, I was constantly on my nerves and experienced stress.

The first time it happened, I convinced myself that it was just a nightmare. But then it started happening every other day, every day, and I panicked.

At night I woke up and realized that my entire life system was blocked: I could neither move, nor open my eyes, nor scream. I felt only some kind of addictive whirlpool on my chest and such a strong intracranial pressure that it seemed that my head would simply fly apart like a head of cabbage. Almost always this state was accompanied by hallucinations: I saw someone's fuzzy silhouettes, looked, as if from the side, at my sleeping myself and my household, once I even went through the roof and watched the stars. He often heard voices from beyond the grave. Someone exclaimed, whispered, laughed wildly and constantly repeated: "Follow me." Was it scary? Not that word. It was not fear, but panic, animal horror. It was so creepy that I thought I was going crazy.


Of course, I understood that this was not normal, and immediately turned to the doctors. I went to different neuropathologists, but all as one insisted that they had not heard anything about this. Once I went to a psychotherapist, he also did not say anything intelligible.

I am a very skeptical person, but when it came to this, even I believed in mysticism. When you leave your body, and the doctors are silent and there is zero information in the literature, in any case you will run to put candles and turn to different grandmothers. They all kept saying that it was some kind of evil eye, damage and other nonsense. I even thought everything about my ex-wife as a sinful thing (laughs).

But, of course, I understood that all this was a fairy tale, and the reasons for what was happening were the most earthly. Since I didn’t receive any answer from specialists, and I didn’t manage to find out anything myself (it was the nineties, and there was no smell of the ubiquitous Internet then), I decided that I just needed to learn how to live with it.

Of course, I told my close relatives and friends about this, but even many of them thought that I was imagining everything. The family tried to help in every possible way: if the relatives saw that I was behaving in a strange way in a dream, they tried to stir up, bring to themselves.


Active paralysis tormented me for only a couple of years. During this period, I lost a lot of weight, looked very bad and was simply afraid to go to bed. Tired at work, lacked sleep at home, and this physical and emotional exhaustion only exacerbated the situation.

Then I learned to more or less control my attacks. I realized that they always occur only in the borderline state between sleep and reality: the first 10-20 minutes when I fall asleep, or before I wake up. A sort of semi-dream, when the body is already relaxed, but not yet in the stage of deep sleep. I concluded that paralysis occurs against the background of emotional outbursts, and, it does not matter, positive or negative. I began to try to control my emotional overexcitation - I myself am a reserved and unflappable person, therefore, it is not difficult.

Lack of sleep, overwork, alcohol also greatly contribute to the resumption of seizures. Therefore, now I predicted such cases and tried to prevent them. If I felt that this could happen again today, before going to bed I tried to put on calm music, walk a little, stretch, wash my face with cold water, in general, wait 15-20 minutes from sleep and relax well.

I was no longer afraid of hallucinations either, but simply waited for it to be over. The main thing is to lie still and not move, because excessive tension will only aggravate the situation.

“Now, seizures come up ONCE IN A COUPLE OF YEARS”

Many years later, together with my current wife, we were watching something like Discovery and suddenly came across some American educational program about people with narcolepsy. It also talked about such a phenomenon as sleep paralysis. Then I realized that this is what is happening to me. I remember that I watched the program with great interest and finally figured out the reasons.

Now the seizures hardly bother me: they come up only once every couple of years. I've just learned to live with sleep paralysis, and it doesn't bother me.

In general, in all the time I have met only one person with whom the same thing happens. I think that many are simply afraid to talk about it or go to the doctor. And I understand them: there is a high probability to pass for a madman.



– It happened for the first time five years ago in the afternoon. I lay down to rest after school and fell asleep. About an hour later I woke up from the noise in the street - the window was open in the room. Everything would be fine, only I couldn’t open my eyes, just like I couldn’t move. After several attempts to roll over on my side or somehow see the daylight, a terrible panic seized me. Reassuring myself, I assumed that I was still dreaming. And she began an internal dialogue: “Sasha, get up! Wake up, please, it's daytime."

But no, I didn't sleep. Through the open window, I clearly heard children's cries and conversations of grandmothers looking after their grandchildren in the sandbox. And also the chirping of birds and the swearing of local drunks. I started screaming, but nothing came out. Inside myself, I screamed like a cut, but my mouth refused to open, as well as my whole body to work. Inwardly, I rushed from side to side and was well aware that I was not sleeping.

A few minutes passed and I heard the door to the apartment open. Someone has entered. I was delighted, thinking that my mother came early from work. Now she will come to me, and everything will be fine again. But it wasn't mom. Men's footsteps passed loudly and firmly throughout the apartment until they reached the room. I was so scared that by that moment I had clearly broken my inner voice. I wanted to cry, run and, of course, call for help. My heart was pounding with such force that I could feel the pulse on my arm and neck.

I continued to lie paralyzed and listened to the approaching footsteps. Involuntarily, I began to pray. “Our Father” she said ten times, no less, in parallel trying to move her hand, then her head, then her toes. It seemed that all this hell lasted an eternity. Although in fact, I think, no more than ten minutes.


Oddly enough, it all ended as quickly as it began. Through prayer, I felt tingling in my right leg. Then the fingers and feet moved. Another half minute and I was able to open my eyes. But it didn't take long for her to get out of bed. I was just sure that an outsider was in the apartment. I wanted to call someone, but there was no phone nearby. I had to run up to the table where my cell phone lay and quickly dial the number. I called my mom. She understood little of my story and suggested that I just had a nightmare. It was useless to explain, just like trying to sleep at night.

The next day I told the story to my friends at the university, but no one understood me – they said that this had never happened to them. For a long time I could not forget this afternoon rest, and remembering, I shuddered every time. It didn't even occur to me to google what happened to me. Until the situation happened again.


About a year later, I again decided to take a nap at lunchtime, but about an hour later I woke up in a paralyzed state. Everything was repeated to within a minute, although this time I calmed myself more confidently. Apparently, realizing - it will definitely end someday. Almost immediately I began to pray and try to move my toes: it worked the last time. When I was released, there was almost no fear, only a terrible curiosity corroded the brain. By evening, I thought of entering the wording into Google: “I woke up, but I can’t move.” And, lo and behold, I wasn't the only one. There was a million and another link to various forums with the caption "Sleep paralysis" and a Wikipedia article.

It turned out that everything is not so scary. A small percentage of people suffer from such a state when they wake up from sleep: the body continues to be paralyzed, but the mind is already awake. According to the descriptions, sleep paralysis is not a disease or some kind of mental disorder, so there is no treatment as such either. But most often it is accompanied by hallucinations: either auditory or visual.

“I definitely would not want to experience this again.”

It is interesting that only my cousin could understand my story about what happened. In those years, he was engaged in out-of-body practices, lucid dreams, and was fond of Zeeland's books. I also read similar literature, but I myself did not reach such thoughts. The brother suggested that due to the awakening of the consciousness at the moment of "sleep of the body" or, in other words, sleep paralysis, one can get out of the body. On this topic, I talked with a psychology teacher, but she advised me not to get involved in all these matters. She warned me it was very dangerous.

I didn't try to get out of my body because I was really scared. According to the stories of the brother, one must seriously prepare for such practices: during the exit, one must be able to control oneself, since various visions can break through the consciousness. When consciousness leaves the body, we can see our room, walk around the apartment, observe everything that is around us. But the trick is that either consciousness can change reality, or we can go so far that it will be impossible to find the way back. In fact, without returning to the body, we will die. Or, as K. Nolan's Inception beautifully told it, we'll get stuck in limbo.

I seriously believe in these practices, I don't consider them some fairy tale. Simply because our consciousness, and especially the subconscious, has not yet been well studied. Sleep paralysis tried to take over me a couple of times, but I quickly understood this state and tried to go back to sleep. I definitely wouldn't want to experience this again.



– Sleep paralysis is a phenomenon that belongs to the category of parasomnia. It also includes sleepwalking, sleep-talking, nocturnal cries, nightmares and enuresis. As a rule, such sleep disorders are characteristic of adolescence and young age, when a person still has a rather labile nervous system. Most of the time it goes away. But, if this occurs in old age, it is fraught with the occurrence of other pathologies. There are also cases of familial parasomnias and sleep disorders, but this is already associated with genetic abnormalities.

Today, somnologists distinguish several phases of sleep: superficial, deep and REM. REM is the phase of the rapid movement of the eyeballs, when the brain is as active as possible, and the muscles are as relaxed as possible, dreams appear directly in this phase. And it is from it that sleep paralysis arises: in case of violation of the exit from the REM phase into the wakefulness phase, as a rule, in the morning.

With sleep paralysis, a person wakes up and realizes that his brain has woken up, but his muscles are not working: the brain has not yet had time to turn on motor neurons synchronously. This can occur after stress, excessive overwork, or even after taking certain psychotropic drugs.

If this happened once or happened several times, it is considered normal. If paralysis occurs frequently and exceeds its duration of one or two minutes, then it is necessary to consult a specialist and carry out a differential diagnosis with other diseases. Some of them, for example, narcolepsy, atonic epileptic seizures, hypokalemic paralysis, can also manifest themselves in a similar way. Therefore, if such disorders often bother you, are aggressive in nature, begin in old age, you need to consult a neurologist or psychiatrist to rule out gross organic diseases. By the way, the incidence of sleep paralysis is 5-6%. This is slightly less common than bronchial asthma.

As for hallucinations associated with sleep, they can be hypnogogic or hypnopompic (when falling asleep or waking up). And this is also quite normal. This happens when you are already awake, but the dream is still imposing its visual image on you.

Learn more