Have you ever woken up and then realized that you can’t move? Your eyes are open, you are conscious, but you can’t move your body! Don’t worry, you’re not alone. This is a condition known as “sleep paralysis”, where your body is not yet awake, but your mind is. This is more common than you might think, and has been occurring for centuries. There are old legends that it was caused by witches or other supernatural beings, but in reality it is a natural circumstance. This article include all the facts about sleep paralysis you will ever need to know.
People who experience this phenomenon describe it as feeling like you are dead… but conscious at the same time. Many tell of pressure on their chests and a general sense of panic and anxiety as they lay there, unable to move. It is not a nightmare, since a nightmare occurs during REM which is when your brain is deeply asleep. However, it can feel like a nightmare sometimes. Many people report forms of hallucination, such as a presence in the room or a frightening appearance which they can’t escape from. Once they are fully awake and functioning again, there is actually nothing in the room. Nonetheless, it is a terrifying experience that leads to panic and blood pressure spikes. Some people go so far as to consider suicide if they suffer from frequent sleep paralysis because they become too scared to go to sleep at night.
Sleep paralysis can occur during one of two times of the sleep cycle – either while you are falling asleep, or while you are waking up. This happens because your body is having trouble making the transition into REM sleep. One of the most terrifying things about sleep paralysis is that you are unable to wake yourself up from it. People try as hard as they can to move, twitching muscles, trying to convince their mind to fully wake up – but when it comes right down to it, it appears that the only way escape is by waiting it out. It is unfortunate, but paralysis simply will not end except on its own. This can take anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes.
The good news is that sleep paralysis is not an uncommon occurrence. It happens quite regularly to many people, though perhaps especially to young folks and the mentally ill. It is not dangerous and certainly not something that anyone can die from. It is more of a phenomenon than a hazard.
Researchers believe that it is at least partially due to sleep deprivation, though the overall reason is unknown. If you are suffering from paralysis and lack of sleep, the important thing to do is get more sleep and know your body. However, there is no proof for any conjectured causes, and no one truly knows why sleep paralysis occurs. If it happens to you, there’s really no need for alarm, even though there’s no denying it’s a pretty freaky experience!