At least from a conceptual level, these two disorders don't conflict. The effect of sleep paralysis is being conscious while having the inability to consciously direct motor functions. Sleepwalking is the unconscious direction of motor functions. So combining the two, the effect would be that you are consciously aware of yourself and your surroundings while you are also unconsciously moving about, outside of your conscious control.

Therefore the only way the two wouldn't be possible together is if their activation conditions were mutually exclusive.

From wikipedia

Sleepwalking occurs during slow-wave sleep (N3) of non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREM sleep) cycles. It typically occurs within the first third of the night when slow-wave sleep is most prominent. Usually, it will occur once in a night, if at all.


The first of these stems from the understanding that sleep paralysis is a parasomnia resulting from dysfunctional overlap of the REM and waking stages of sleep.


So from a small amount of searching it seems it is not possible, unless SWS, REM, and the waking stages of sleep can all be overlapped.

  • $\begingroup$ Dissociative states are not the same as sleep paralysis, which means paralysis upon waking from sleep, not sleepwalking or combining it with other movement. There are a number of sleep disorders. You can't be paralyzed while walking. You can be sleepwalking. It might be something else. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 3:03

1 Answer 1


While it is hard to completely rule out this convergence ever happening (perhaps cases haven't been reported), it is highly unlikely due to the specific stages of the ultradian sleep cycle at which sleep walking and sleep paralysis occur [Ref. 1]. Sleep walking during non-REM sleep would have to continue through the REM stage in order to see intrusion of sleep paralysis that occurs at the exit of REM to wake [Ref. 2].

A key feature of REM sleep is deep muscle atonia that paralyzes the body and prevents among other things one from acting out dreams [Ref .3]. Thus, if a person sleep walking were able to enter REM before returning to bed, the sleep walking / other unconscious motion itself would cease.

I do question your reasoning that the combination of these two parasomnias would result in being:

consciously aware of yourself and your surroundings while you are also unconsciously moving about, outside of your conscious control.

because the intrusion of sleep paralysis would in fact lead to muscle atonia and prevent one moving about. This is not to say that terrible things have not occurred where muscle atonia has failed while the subject remains asleep/unconscious; this falls under the fascinating category of REM-behavior disorders (where people act our their dreams - including violently hurting themselves and their partners), which judging by your question I think you will find interesting! [Ref. 4].

References: [Ref. 1]: sleep stages [Ref. 2]: sleep paralysis [Ref. 3]: muscle atonia [Ref. 4]: rem-behavior disorder


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .