The model and reality star shares that she wakes up in the middle of the night unable to move. Yikes!

By Julia Malacoff
November 01, 2016
Getty Images

From insomnia to sleep deprivation, there are all kinds of things that can go wrong when it comes to getting that all-important shut eye. In fact, disordered and insufficient sleep is so common that the CDC has gone as far as to call it a public health problem. (BTW, this is why sleep deprivation makes us so angsty.)

As more and more celebrities open up about their health struggles, Kendall Jenner is discussing a scary new sleep problem she's having. In a trailer for an upcoming episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Kendall says, "I wake up in the middle of the night and I can't move." Well, this sounds extremely terrifying. After her mom Kris Jenner writes off her symptoms to anxiety, she adds, "Everyone says I'm fine, but I don't feel fine." We've got to empathize with her; that sounds pretty upsetting. Waking up being unable to move is pretty much like being stuck in a nightmare you can't wake up from, right?

It's no secret that the Kardashian-Jenners work hard, so could this be a weird symptom of stress and anxiety, like Kris Jenner thinks? While it's impossible to diagnose exactly what's going on with Kendall based on a TV show, Dr. Meeta Singh, M.D., sleep disorder specialist with Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, says anxiety can play a role in symptoms similar to hers. Waking up and not being able to move is also called sleep paralysis, and it runs in families and increases in frequency if a person is sleep deprived. But Singh notes that sleep paralysis can also happen in younger people when they have anxiety or are particularly stressed. So it looks like Kris could be right, after all.

So what is actually happening with your body during sleep paralysis? "When you enter REM (dream) sleep, your muscles go into a state of paralysis, which is called atonia. This is actually protective, as the atonia prevents you from acting out the physical movements in your dreams and thus injuring yourself," says Singh. "In sleep paralysis, when you wake up, your brain is awake but your muscles are still in the REM atonia state, so you are unable to move voluntary muscles or speak," she continues.

Singh explains that involuntary muscle movement, like breathing, is not affected, but "there is often a sensation of chest pressure, which is why many people wake up from sleep paralysis gasping to take a deep breath." These episodes can last anywhere from 20 seconds to a few minutes, she says. "It can be very scary when you are unable to move, and occasionally people may hear or see things that are not there and this too is scary, but not a medically dangerous situation." So more than anything, sleep paralysis may induce a lot of fear in the person experiencing it, but it is not at all life-threatening.

In fact, she says that if you're experiencing symptoms like this, the best thing you can do is wait it out and let it resolve on its own. The only time you really need to see a doctor, according to Singh, is if you're experiencing excessive sleepiness or muscle weakness in conjunction with the sleep paralysis. Who knows what's really going on with Kendall, but we suspect we'll find out this Sunday night when the episode airs. In the meantime, rest assured that if her story sounds familiar to you, you likely have nothing to worry about.

Check out the trailer for yourself below:


Be the first to comment!