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March 1962

Sleep Paralysis

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Medicine, Duke Medical Center, Durham, N.C., and The University of Oklahoma Medical Center.

Arch Neurol. 1962;6(3):228-234. doi:10.1001/archneur.1962.00450210056006

Sleep paralysis is an unusual neurologic phenomenon which may be described as "brief accesses of inability to move one's limbs, to speak and even to open one's eyes on awakening (hypnapompic or postdormital sleep paralysis) or more rarely when falling asleep (hypnagogic or predormital sleep paralysis)."11 The patient is fully aware of his state and has complete recall for the event. Sleep paralysis is occasionally preceded or accompanied by vivid and terrifying hallucinations in the pre- or postdormital stages of sleep. Rarely, it may be preceded by cataplexy. The paralysis always disappears suddenly, either spontaneously, after intense effort by the patient to "break" the paralysis, or after some sensory stimulation, such as being touched or spoken to. The duration of the episode is usually a few seconds, but may be a few minutes. The only sequelae are an occasional relapse into the paralyzed state if the patient does not

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