Paralysis: A biological explanation for sleep paralysis

Dreams about paralysis can sometimes have a biological explanation related to the physical changes we experience during sleep. When we dream, our bodies actually enter into a state of paralysis that prevents us from physically acting out the events in our dreams. When you have a dream in which you are unable to move, you may be transitioning between the REM stage and the waking stage of sleep. During Rapid Eye Movement, or REM, sleep, the brain experiences vivid dreams while the other muscles of the body essentially stop working. If you start to wake up before the REM cycle has been completed, it’s possible to experience a phenomenon known as sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis is a brief, but terrifying experience of being awake and conscious but physically unable to move.

Dreams about being paralyzed can also be more symbolic. If you’ve been distressed about feeling a lack of control over events in your life, then your dreams about being paralyzed might be a metaphor for feeling helpless and powerless in your day-to-day life. If you’ve been waking up in distress after dreaming about being paralyzed, it might be a good idea to reflect on which aspects of your life have been causing you to feel stressed out and under pressure.