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Sleep Paralysis and Medical Conditions 

Sleep Paralysis and Medical Conditions
Chapter:
Sleep Paralysis and Medical Conditions
Author(s):

Brian A. Sharpless

and Karl Doghramji

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199313808.003.0008
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date: 18 October 2019

Sleep paralysis can occur in the context of a wide variety of medical conditions. One of the most common of these is insufficient sleep syndrome, or sleep deprivation, which is, in turn, highly prevalent. Sleep paralysis is a hallmark symptom of narcolepsy, and can occur in the context of obstructive sleep apnea, hypertension, sleep-related hallucinations, and Wilson’s disease. It can also be induced by a variety of medications and substances, notably alcohol. The pathophysiological basis of sleep paralysis in narcolepsy is thought to be a deficiency in the hypothalamic neuropeptide hypocretin (orexin). Hypotheses for the aetiology of sleep paralysis in the other disorders noted are also explored, with the final common pathway likely being a dysregulation of REM sleep timing and consolidation resulting in an abnormal juxtaposition between motor inhibitory aspects of REM sleep and partial wakefulness.

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