I love sleep, but it’s admittedly a very odd thing we all have to do.
It can also be rather scary from time to time.
Of course most of us have had a nightmare, but only a few of us will have woken up in the middle of the night, unable to move.
I mean just imagine it. You’ve gone to bed, then a few hours later your eyes are suddenly open and you can’t move. But you can still feel, hear, and see everything around you!
Your mind is awake but you can’t move, you panic and suddenly realise your awake in a nightmare.
It sounds like something straight out of a Stephen King novel, but it’s actually a common problem.
Some people call it ‘waking up dead’, but it’s real name is sleep paralysis.
It has puzzled every culture around the world for hundreds of years.
Up until recently most people and cultures have been puzzled by what causes sleep paralysis, and how to prevent it from happening.
It’s been an reoccuring thing for as long as humans have been around, and it’s one of the most frightening things we face!
But because we haven’t been able to find out things about our bodies until recent medical developments, like X Ray machines, MRI Scans, and such, that we’ve been able to find out more about how our bodies function.
It’s pretty incredible when you think about it!
People from all over the world have described this condition, but many people are still puzzled by it.
Some cultures believe it’s caused by ghosts or demons, while others believe it means they were visited by aliens.
It may sound spooky, but it’s not true at all!
Today, with the help of science, we have finally found a deeper understanding of what it means and what it actually is.
What is it?
Thanks to modern research we now know that sleep paralysis originates from issues with REM sleep.
When we’re REM sleeping our body becomes frozen by the brain in order to stop you acting out your dream while your asleep.
This kind of paralysis that happens during REM sleep is perfectly natural and normal (which is called REM atonia).
It becomes unnatural when a person is awake while their body is experiencing that REM atonia.
But what causes sleep paralysis?
Anything that messes with the REM sleep stage can cause sleep paralysis.
This includes things like jet lag, lack of sleep, irregular sleeping patterns, or migraines.
But that’s not all! Psychological factors can also trigger sleep paralysis. This includes anxiety disorders, overwhelming stress, trauma and substance abuse.
What are the symptoms of sleep paralysis?
The sufferer will experience the feeling of being awake and not knowing it’s a dream.
This can last anywhere between a few seconds and even a few minutes.
But no matter how long it is, we can safely say it’s a terrifying experience!
Anyone who wakes up to sleep paralysis can perceive their environment and everything in it without any sort of “brain fog.” Soon after that, they realise they can’t move.
Sleep paralysis doesn’t have any side effects on the brain and it’s not harmful, but it causes an extreme amount of fear and dread, which no one wants when they’re asleep!
The experience of being trapped inside your own body often drives people to think that they’re dying, or that there’s some supernatural force at work.
Some people have even described a crawling and electrifying sensation running up and down their body, while others claim that they struggle to breathe during the sleep paralysis.
This is all psychological. But this means that it can be so shocking, that some people will begin to experience hallucinations and experience things that aren’t happening!
According to The Sleep Paralysis Project, the most common hallucinations reported by people include doors opening, animals growling, approaching footsteps, scratching, and even spooky whispering.
Some people have even reported olfactory hallucinations, which include the smells of rotting flesh, damp, mold, and even decay!
That makes me so happy that I’ve never suffered from Sleep Paralysis, hopefully I’ll never experience it!
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