What is sleep paralysis?


People often experience a frightening episode of hallucination and paralysis during sleep. Sleep paralysis is a temporary condition in which a person is in consciousness during sleep but unable to perform voluntary action like muscle movement and speech. A person can experience it when he is falling for sleep or when about to wake up. In simple words, you sensitize that some creepy and frightening stuff is going around you, but you are freeze and unable to respond that. Some people think they are responding by shouting, getting up, and moving their body parts, but they are immobilized.

Male and females are equally affected by sleep paralysis. The first incidence of sleep paralysis is in teen years, but people of every age are affected by it. This condition of halt and threatening last less than minutes, usually not longer than two-three minutes. The incidence of attack can be in a single episode or maybe recurrent

Four out of ten people have experienced sleep paralysis. Generally, 8% of the total population, 28% of students, and 32% of physiatrist patients are suffering from this condition. One of the reasons is hallucinations. The hallucinations signify the sensation of demons in the bedroom, some evil presence around you, demon spirit, feeling hands around neck, someone suffocating your breath, and putting pressure on chest.

Sleep paralysis can be due to other sleeping disorders like narcolepsy. In narcolepsy, the order of sleep and wakefulness cycle is disturbed, thus resulting in excessive daytime sleepiness and sudden uncontrollable sleep attacks.

Sleep paralysis usually occurs at

  1.  Sleep onset time, when a person is falling for sleep, is known a hypnagogic sleep paralysis.
  2. Sleep offset time, when a person is waking up from sleep, this is known a hypnopompic sleep paralysis.

When you are falling asleep, your body is in a calm and relaxed state, and you are unaware of your surroundings. During onset sleep, when you become aware of your surroundings you may notice that you cannot perform voluntary actions, like moving your body or opening your eyes.

During sleep, your body alternates between REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-rapid eye movement). A single cycle of NREM and REM last for 90 minutes. Most of our dreaming occur during the second half cycle along with rapid eye movement. Your muscles are intentionally paralyzed in this duration, so you cannot move your body in response to any hallucination or horror dream.

The brain gives directions to the voluntary muscles to act paralyzed, referred to as atonia. Atonia helps the body to stay calm during vivid dreams, so we cannot do crazy stuff in response to them. Otherwise we may harm ourselves. Thus restricted movement of muscles gives us physical relaxation, but we suffer from mental torture.

Underlying causes of sleeping paralysis are stress, anxiety, depression, change in schedule, lack of proper sleep, relaxing in the supine position, substance abuse, potassium deficiency, and use of certain medications.

There is no proper medication and treatment for sleep paralysis. Persons who endure sleep paralysis should go for healthy sleeping habits, stress-free environment, balanced diet, positive mindset, antidepressants, six to eight hours of sleep, and exercises for mental health.

Sleep paralysis runs into families, and it is a genetic disorder. If you ever feel conscious of your surroundings during sleep and unable to move and talk, then you may have sleep paralysis, and you should concern about it.


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