Sleep paralysis has become a common word that we often hear. What is sleep paralysis? Is it something that really happens? Does this phenomenon happen to everyone? Several questions related to sleep paralysis come to our minds when we go through it. If you are in search of answers to your questions, then you must read this.
What is sleep paralysis?
Before moving further, we will talk about what this actually is. Sleep paralysis is a state in which the person is unable to move or speak while laying on his bed. The person is able to breathe and think but unable to move or open their eyes. This state occurs when the person is falling asleep or waking up. This state mostly occurs when one is stuck between the two stages, the stage of wakefulness and sleep. This may last for a few seconds to few minutes
Why does sleep paralysis occur?
Sleep paralysis usually occurs when you are falling asleep or at the time you are waking up. We can divide this state into two types. The paralysis that occurs while you are falling asleep is hypnagogic or preorbital sleep paralysis. the one that occurs during the time of waking up is hypnopompic or postdormital sleep paralysis.
In Hypnagogic paralysis, your brain is active while you are falling asleep. Many people do not feel the hypnagogic state because of falling asleep. At this time the body is relaxed and in a calm position, unaware of the surrounding. During the onset of sleep, when the person becomes aware of the surroundings and feels his inability to move or even open his eyes, he is going through hypnagogic conditions.
Hypnopompic paralysis usually occurs when a person is trying to wake up. According to the researcher, our body alternates between REM (Rapid eye movement) and NREM (Non-rapid eye movement). The single cycle between these two movements lasts for 90 minutes. This is the time when we dream. It occurs during the second half of the cycle with rapid eye movement. At this point, you feel your muscles intentionally paralyzed. You may feel immobilized to react to any of the horror dreams or any situation in the surroundings including moving your body and opening your eyes.
What are the causes?
It is believed that every man and woman go through this state once or twice their lifetime. Nevertheless, it is harmful as well as scary. It happens due to several reasons. Some of the common causes are
- The person inherits from his family
- Change in sleeping schedule
- Disturbed sleep
- Medicines side effects
- Nighttime leg cramps
- Mental health issues
- Potassium deficiency
- Substance abuse
This condition does not require any treatment. It occurs occasionally and sometimes once in a lifetime. However, some people related their anxiousness and unable to sleep properly. At this moment all you have to do is to treat the underlying conditions like:
- Improve sleeping habits
- use antidepressant medicines to get rid of stress
- relax your mind
- treat sleep disorder
- change your sleeping position
These are the steps one should follow to treat sleep paralysis. However, if it does not get treated and routinely disturbs your sleep, then it is time to consult a doctor.
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Is sleep paralysis linked with hallucination?
As we have already discussed above, sleep paralysis is basically linked to the inability of the body to move during sleep. While talking about this, another thing that comes to our mind is hallucination. Several people experience a type of sleep paralysis in which they claim the presence of some evil spirits in the room while sleeping.
Indeed, it is horrifying but it actually happens. People often hallucinate the presence of evil forces or demons in the room at the time of going through sleep paralysis. Some people claim it is due to the evil forces that they become paralyzed while the evil spirits are attacking them.
However, the reality is that sleep paralysis and hallucination often occur together. One may hear or imagine the presence of something in the room which is actually not there.
In simple words, the one who goes through this state may witness something creepy or frightening is going around, but he is unable to respond to it. The person tries to move body parts and shout but they are immobilized.
Read about sleep disorders in detail in our article “Am I having sleep disorder?“
How long does this situation last?
The duration of this frightening situation lasts a few seconds to a few minutes. It takes a minimum of 3 to 5 minutes for someone to come to a normal state and sometimes it can also take 10 minutes.
Recurrence of sleep paralysis
The attack of sleep paralysis can occur in a single episode or it can also reoccur in several episodes of the same night until the time you reach deep sleep or finally wake up.
Concepts of sleep paralysis in different countries
- Japanese people call this situation “Kanashibari”. This term is related to Buddhism. According to this, it is believed that monks use some magic tricks to paralyze others.
- A Dutch doctor studied the case history of a woman suffering from major attacks of sleep paralysis in 1664. After studying the case thoroughly, he wrote a book in which he wrote “A devil lay upon the woman and held her down.”
- Chinese people call it “ghost oppression.”
- In Newfoundland, it is known as the attack of “OLD HAG”
- Mexican people believe that sleep paralysis occurs when a dead body climbs on them
- According to Muslim belief, it is a nightmare.
We have mentioned thorough details about sleep paralysis that everyone should know. It happens to everyone. People of every age and gender. It is nothing else but a simple sleep disorder that happens due to some health or mental issues. It is a mild problem with no medication required. All a person needs is to change his sleeping habits or relax his mind.