What is worse than having nightmares invade your sleep? Beware of sleep paralysis! Sleep researchers define sleep paralysis as a demonstration that your body isn’t moving through the sleep stages smoothly. However, superstition prevails: rumour has it, that sleep paralysis is most often than not, considered as a demonic possession than a psychological phenomenon.
While sleep paralysis is not a serious health risk, it can be a scary phenomenon when one is not familiar with what it is. Here are 10 terrifying facts about sleep paralysis that you should know about:
1. Sleep paralysis occurs when a person wakes up before their REM (Rapid Eye Movement) cycle is finished
During the rapid eye movement (REM) cycle of sleep, the brain has vivid dreams while one’s muscles are unable to move. Even though this actually happens, so that the person won’t be able to act out dreams with their body, it absolutely scares the living daylights out of a person when they can’t move, in a semi-awake situation. However, during sleep paralysis, the person wakes up before their REM cycle is even finished. This causes the individual to be awake, but their body won’t be able to move, because their muscles haven’t received the signal from their brain in order to do so.
2. During sleep paralysis, people may feel like they’re being choked or a tightness in their chest
Believe it or not, this is sadly, very common when you’re feeling paralyzed. If you ever go through this, no matter how much you try to move, you simply can’t seem to get past the heaviness that binds you, weighing you down.
3. People may hallucinate during sleep paralysis
Hallucinations take place during the disrupted boundary between dreaming and being awake. Therefore, when people experience sleep paralysis, their dreams may become even more vivid than usual. Before sleep paralysis was discovered by scientists, people in the past have associated their hallucinations with experiencing visits from the demon or other evil figures.
4. People can’t speak during sleep paralysis
Do you know what it is like when your entire body is weighed down by something extraordinarily heavy, rendering you immobile and then, to add to the horror, it makes you unable to speak as well! Yes, you can not speak while sleep paralysis. This is Basit because your mouth also can’t move along with the rest of your body. You might try calling for help only to find that not a single word can be uttered, which might eventually lead you to feel choked.
5. Sleep deprivation and an irregular sleep schedule are prone to triggering sleep paralysis
Didn’t get enough sleep? You might be in for some trouble tonight. Well, in order to absolutely prevent sleep paralysis, avoid alcohol, nicotine, and drugs at least 3 hours before you go to bed. It’s also best to limit caffeine post 2 P.M. and shut off all electronics before going to bed for less distraction. You sure don’t want to fall prey to this threat, right?
6. Sleeping on your back causes frequent episodes of sleep paralysis
According to researchers who conducted the sleep paralysis project, people who sleep on their back often experience sleep paralysis more than any other sleep position. To prevent yourself from experiencing sleep paralysis as much as possible, try sleeping in alternative positions, such as on your side or your stomach. Although these other sleep positions might not be the most ideal or comfortable, researchers have found that they do reduce your chance of experiencing sleep paralysis.
7. You will panic no matter how hard you try to stay calm
Even though it is highly advised to stay as calm as possible during sleep paralysis, let’s face it: it is easier said than done. Well, it may be the scariest thing ever, however, just keep reminding yourself that it is temporary and it will pass. Remember that staying calm makes you feel less attacked and you’ll eventually understand how to tackle it rather than fearing it.
8. Stress and anxiety may influence sleep paralysis
Stress and anxiety may keep you up at night, disrupting your sleep patterns and cycles. This makes you more prone to experiencing sleep paralysis. Find ways to cope with stress and anxiety, such as exercising more frequently or practicing mindfulness.
9. Waking up, feeling dead
It makes you feel like you’re dead. A majority of those who experience sleep paralysis equate the experience of waking up and not being able to move, while simultaneously being fully mentally awake, to feeling like they’re dead.
10. The experience of sleep paralysis for most is overwhelmingly negative and malevolent
One explanation is that the mind registers unexplainable events as threats as an evolutionary adaptation to keep you from acting out your dreams. Regardless, the results are horrifying for people who actually experience them.
For people who have gone through this, you can share your experiences with us in the comment section below. However, for people who have heard about this for the first time ever, will you be able to sleep tonight?