Ask Sam letter


To Sam

Sleep Paralysis


I have been experiencing regular sleep paralysis. I am not sure if you are aware of this (I've spoken to childline councillors who are unaware of the word before).

It happens whenever I go to sleep (I'd say monthly) where I fall asleep and I wake up (I open my eyes) and I can see my bedroom or wherever I've fallen asleep, but I can't move. I also have anxiety, which doesn't help. I am afraid to go to sleep. I can see everything around my, my body, everything but I cannot move or speak no matter how hard I try. I usually wake up with a panic attack.

For example, my boyfriend was over on Sunday (16th Sep) and we were watching tv, where I feel asleep next to him. Soon I opened my eyes, saw him laying next to me, I could feel his arm around me and see him on his phone. Yet, I couldn't move, nor speak to tell him I was freaking out. Usually I just shut my eyes and wait for it to pass. I can feel my muscles in my arms and legs tense where I am trying to move, yet I cannot.

Apologies for the lengthy letter; I'm am just very worried about what to do, I am already on medication for my mental health. I've been to my GP but they said there wasn't anything they could do, except suggest doing some meditation. I really don't want this to affect my A - Levels. I am already finding it a challenge making the big step from GCSE to A - Level, after being disappointed with my GCSE results.

Thank you for your time used to read my letter, I look forward to a response. Thanks again!

Ask Sam


Hi there

Sleep paralysis can be a frightening thing to experience. During an episode, some people may feel that there’s a weight on their chest and find it difficult to take deep breaths or are unable to move.

For some, there may be a feeling that someone, or something, is in the room, like a hallucination. This can be scary and last for anything from a few seconds to a few minutes.

In many cases, sleep paralysis is something that just happens once. You’ll be able to move and speak as usual afterwards, although it could leave feelings of anxiety about going to sleep again. Remember that the things you see and feel are just like in a dream – they aren’t real and can’t hurt you.

It’s a good idea to speak to your GP if this is something you’ve experienced regularly, if you think it’s having an effect on the way you feel about going to sleep, or it’s making you struggle to get enough sleep. For more severe symptoms, your GP could refer you to a sleep specialist, like a neurologist.

The NHS website explains more about sleep paralysis and about what happens to your body when it occurs. There's also tips and advice that could help to improve your sleep on our own page on the subject.

Lots of things in life can leave you feeling under pressure. Things like exam stress, diet and change of routine can cause people to feel overwhelmed or numb, with no feelings at all.

If you’re struggling with any kind of stress or anxiety it might be an idea to learn some different techniques to manage stress and to help to relax the mind and the body.

Self-care can take practice but the more you do it, the easier it will become. Our Childline counsellors are here to talk, listen and support you about anything you want to talk about.

Thank you for your letter and take care,


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