Due to lack of stimulation, many people experienced vivid dreams for longer periods of time last year. 

Experts found two-thirds of us were having ‘unusually vivid’ dreams and with Covid cases rapidly rising once again, it’s no surprise that social media There are many reports about similar horror stories. 

But among these reports are increasing stories of Covid causing sleep paralysis – the temporary inability to move or speak while experiencing hallucinations shortly before a person nods off or before waking. 

Social media users have reported the phenomenon, which occurs because your brain is active while your body is still in sleep mode, happening for the first time after catching Covid.  

Sleep therapy expert Dr. Kat Lederle, Dr Greg Potter and Hussain Abdeh, clinical director at Medicine Direct, explained to FEMAIL why both stress and viral infection could be a reason for the increase.  

Sleep therapy experts explained to FEMAIL why both stress and viral infection could be a reason for the increase in sleep paralysis. Stock image

FEMAIL received explanations from sleep experts explaining why stress and virus infection may be contributing to the rise in insomnia. Image from stock


Dr Potter explained, “Sleep Paralysis” is when your body cannot move despite you being awake. This happens as you go into or out of rapid eye movement (REM). 

Your brain paralyses all of the muscles in your body, except for your heart and your breathing. This is called REM sleep. This is when muscle paralysis lasts until you wake up.

“Episodes are short and can last from seconds to minutes. Although they’re not dangerous or inherently harmful, they can still be frightening. Hallucinations are the most frightening. These can include visions, sounds and feelings. They may be caused by dreamlike activity in certain brain circuits. 

Several social media users have reported the phenomenon, which occurs because your brain is active while your body is still in sleep mode, happening for the first time after catching Covid

Many people have shared the experience on social media. The phenomenon occurs because your brain can be active even though your body remains asleep.


Hussain said that sleep paralysis can be caused by your brain activating while you are still asleep.

Dr Lederle added that “What appears to be happening is that normal REM sleep muscle Atonia, which prevents us from acting out dreams during this stage sleep interferes with wakefulness rendering you unable move or speak for a few seconds.” 

Dr Potter added: ‘People who experience sleep paralysis tend to have a first bout in their teens. This condition is also quite common in young adults. It becomes less frequent later on. 

Symptoms such as insomnia, insufficient sleep or disturbed sleeping patterns, psychological stress or mental illness (e.g. PTSD), and certain medications are thought to trigger these episodes. Narcolepsy can cause sleep paralysis, which is a disorder that causes excessive or irregular sleeping, mental health problems (e.g., PTSD), and some medications. 

Due to lockdown, two-thirds of Britons had vivid dreams because they got a longer and deeper sleep. 

Last year, experts discovered that Britons enjoyed vivid dreams due to the nationwide coronavirus locking down.  

Researchers at King’s College London, Ipsos mori also conducted the study. The Sunday Times reported that just over three quarters of respondents were more likely to have experienced sleep deprivation and sleeping rough than usual. 

According to Bobby Duffy (director of King’s College’s Policy Institute), these sleepless nights are often caused by financial anxiety. 

Russell Foster, the director of the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute in Oxford, added he has received reports of people having unusually vivid dreams amid the coronavirus crisis.  

‘Most workers do not get enough sleep in our busy 24/7 society, which means most of us are usually sleep deprived,’ he said. “It’s interesting to see that the trend is now being reversed.” 

“Many of us seem to now be filling our dreams with images related to the crisis.

“Because we sleep longer and deeper, our dreams are vivid and we remember them more clearly.” 


Dr Lederle explained that while there haven’t been scientific studies investigating this in normal sleepers, Covid is a possible reason for a rise in sleep paralysis – particularly the stress of rising cases. 

“It is possible that the virus infection infects the brain itself (neurological effects have been reported about covid),” she stated. 

“But, I believe it’s more probable that should there be an increased in sleep paralysis this could be due to stress from the major changes we’re making to our lifestyles at the moment and the anxiety and uncertainty that are affecting our sleep systems. 

Hussain said, “Research on patients suffering from narcolepsy revealed that there was an increase in paralysis after Covid. This could be due to changes made in routines or sleep patterns. 

Multiple studies have also reported an increase in insomnia, nightmares and stress dreams due to the pandemic. These conditions are linked to sleep paralysis and Covid may have caused an increase.

While Dr Potter admitted that Covid has not been extensively researched to assess its impact on the condition’s health, evidence has shown that some people have experienced it.  

He said that if there’s a connection between COVID, sleep paralysis and psychological stress, then it might be because of the COVID Pandemic, which has created great psychological stress and made sleep more irregular for a few people’. It is possible that some COVID sufferers may experience sleep paralysis, although it’s difficult to know right now. 


Hussain stated that getting sufficient sleep every night is the most important.  Hussain stated, “You need to do everything you can to sleep between 7 and 9. 

You can increase your chances of this happening by going to bed and getting up around the same times each morning. Your body will be more likely to get into a rhythm, making it easier to regulate your circadian rhythm and know when it’s time for rest.

It is important to get enough exercise throughout the day but not just before going to bed. This will help reduce fatigue and allow you to fall asleep faster.

Avoid sleeping on your back, as this will reduce the chances of you experiencing sleep paralysis. It is important to avoid alcohol and caffeine before you go to bed. Avoid smoking and eating large meals in the hour before you go to sleep.

Talk to your doctor if the issue persists and you are anxious about sleeping or afraid of falling asleep. If you feel constantly tired or unable to sleep well, this is also a sign that you should consult your doctor.