You find yourself drifting through your dreams when suddenly, you become conscious of everything around you.
You realize you’re in bed awake and try to move, except that your body doesn’t work.
You can’t help but sense there’s something or someone in the room with you—a dark figure begins to loom over your body but you are powerless to do anything.
It may sound like a horror movie, but sleep paralysis is a real thing.
What is Sleep Paralysis
Sleep paralysis can happen when waking up or falling asleep. It’s a temporary inability to move and speak. People who experience this type of parasomnia are often sleeping on their backs. They will suddenly wake up and notice that they have been staring at the ceiling for an extended period without noticing it. Sleep paralysis usually occurs in people with narcolepsy.
Though it doesn’t harm physically, the sensation of being unable to move can be very frightening and cause considerable anxiety. Additional symptoms that add to their trauma also include sensing an intruder in their room, a weight on their chest, floating or out-of-body experience, and sensation of being choked or sexually assaulted.
Hallucinations are a very common symptom of anxiety and many people have experienced them at one point or another.
Identifying Sleep Paralysis
According to Sleep Paralysis Project, there are three key factors in a sleep paralysis episode to consider making a diagnosis. These are: the patient is aware that they are awake, the patient is aware of their surroundings and the patient is completely unable to move.
When you are sleeping and enter the REM phase, it’s common for a state of paralysis to occur. Otherwise, we would all act out our dreams into reality.
The body needs time to rest, even though the mind continues working. People with sleep paralysis often experience unusual alertness and awareness during the atonia phase of their episode. This can be extremely unnerving for them, even if there are no other symptoms present in addition to this happening alone on occasion when it occurs without warning.
Cause of Sleep Paralysis
Sleep paralysis occurs while you’re in REM sleep, the phase where most people dream. The brain does this to stop us from acting out our dreams during sleep.
Sleep paralysis occurs when there’s a mistransmission of neural signals, and the brain fails to reactivate the muscles, rendering the patient conscious, but completely paralyzed. This can be a sign that you are not going through the stages of sleep properly.
It is unknown what causes sleep paralysis, but it seems that genetics play an important role. Aside from genetics, there are other factors that can cause this occurrence. These include lack of sleep, irregular sleeping patterns, existing psychological disorders, and drug or alcohol abuse.
Paranormal Sleep Paralysis Symptoms
In the 2015 documentary ‘The Nightmare’, sleep paralysis sufferers are shown to have terrifying experiences when they go to bed. The condition is complex and often difficult to diagnose. It blurs the lines between sleep, dreams, and mental health – even regarding paranormal activity.
The frequency of these symptoms also varies from sufferer to sufferer. Some people find the feelings to be vague and indescribable, while others experience terrifying events in grimmer detail. Either way, the feeling of complete immobility and total awareness will remain.
Sleep Paralysis Through History
Throughout history, there have been many explanations for this mysterious condition often attributed to an “evil” presence. Sleep paralysis is a phenomenon that has been documented in history, culture, and literature. For example, there are numerous mentions of it throughout Ancient Greece as well as Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”.
The legend of ‘Old Hag Syndrome’ says that the sleeper wakes up to find an old hag or a witch sitting on their chest, leaving them unable to move. The legends of sleep paralysis are not uncommon, suggesting that this phenomenon is likely experienced by many people.
Sleep paralysis is a terrifying and confusing experience that occurs while you’re asleep. It can be hard to diagnose because there isn’t much understanding of its causes, making it an undiagnosed condition for many people who experience this symptom in their sleep cycle. The incidents of “supernatural activity” can be understood as a result of sufferers’ expectations and beliefs.
People have a variety of different reported feelings with sleep paralysis, but one thing they all seem to share is the presence in their room. Next, they will experience feelings of being crushed and the belief that an intruder had entered their home.
Sleep Paralysis Treatment
There is currently no standard treatment available for sleep paralysis. However, you can try to minimize the chances of an episode. One is improving your sleeping habits. Six to eight hours of sleep per night is the recommended amount for healthy adults. If you’re struggling with insomnia, it’s important that your sleeping habits are in check. Make changes like adjusting room temperature and getting a better routine for bedtime so try not only to focus on the physical aspects of rest but also hydration levels.
If you are suffering from severe sleep paralysis, your doctor may suggest a clinical treatment. Antidepressant medications have been shown to reduce the incidences of paralysis episodes, although it must be stressed that they do not work on every patient.
Tricyclic antidepressants (TA) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors(SSRI), usually used to treat depression, are thought be have an effect on sleep paralysis by altering the amount of REM or dream state where you temporarily lose control over your body after waking up. Nevertheless, the medicine may have side effects. Before you decide to take medication, be aware of the potential risks and how they could affect your life.
If you know someone who might like this, please click “Share”!