Sleep Paralysis May Be What’s Frightening You
Sleep Paralysis. Odds are you have heard this term, but what is it exactly? According to LiveScience.com, it happens when we are ‘mentally aware while falling asleep or waking up, yet totally unable to move.’
To be a bit more technical about it, a professor of psychology at Goldsmiths University of London named Alice Gregory describes it as something that happens when ‘features of REM sleep, specifically muscle paralysis, continue into our waking lives.’
Some people report seeing horrific hallucinations during these episodes, including visions of demons, ghosts, aliens, and/or other supernatural or scary phenomenon. There can even be auditory hallucinations in some cases, which can make the entire episode seem super-real.
And of course, while you are hallucinating, you are not able to move; which certainly adds to the distressing nature of it.
In fact, some people who have experienced what was later determined to be sleep paralysis remain convinced that they have been visited by demons… and some people have even reported being abducted by aliens after suffering from a bout of what was likely just a really bad experience with this unusual parasomnia.
There’s no other way to say it; sleep paralysis can be scary. But the more you know about it, the less you will have to be afraid of it if you do experience it.
Why Does Sleep Paralysis Happen?
The cause of sleep paralysis remains unclear to researchers, though they do have a pretty good idea of what is going on while it happens. Scientists have also studied test subjects to find out who is more likely to experience it. But genetics, past stress, caffeine intake, diet, income, age, ethnicity, and sex seem to have almost nothing to do with it.
There is a link between sleep paralysis and PTSD. There is also a link between sleep paralysis and social anxiety. But for the most part, almost everything besides these in the above categories proved either negligible or inconclusive.
But there is one common link that researchers have located. It appears that sleep paralysis can happen to almost anyone, of any age; but that it is more common among people with irregular sleep schedules. It is also true that people who have less restful sleep are more likely to experience the phenomenon.
You are also more likely to experience it if you wake up repeatedly during the night, if you sleep for less than 6 hours at a time, or if you sleep for more than 9 hours at a time.
Is There A Cure?
Unfortunately, there is not really a cure for the condition. The good news, though, is that it does tend to go away with time.
Many sufferers find that adopting a more regular sleep schedule and doing what they can to make sleep more restful significantly decreases their odds of suffering from an episode. You may also find that eliminating the use of electronics before bed can help (especially cell phone and tablet screens).
Yes, sleep paralysis can be scary; but you should not necessarily be alarmed if you have experienced it. About 8 percent of people across the board will suffer from it at one point or another, but it does not have to be something that controls your life.
Realizing that it is not a religious or ‘sci-fi’ thriller experience can help you to cope with the symptoms. And, of course, being proactive and taking control of your sleep schedule can do a lot to help you eliminate the problem altogether.
If you cannot seem to shake it, or are particularly distressed by it, then you might want to talk to your doctor. In some cases, a medical professional can help… so that might be worth a try.
Have you ever experienced sleep paralysis? Maybe accompanied by a nightmare? What was it like? Let us know in the comments below.