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The Horrors of the Night – Sleep Paralysis

A minute passes in no time?

There are many types of people, if we separate them on the basis of how they sleep at night.
Sleepwalkers, sleep talkers, the ones who usually have nightmares, the ones who sleep like they’re dead, insomniacs, scared ones forcing themselves to not sleep, peaceful Sleepers but I think the ones suffering from sleep paralysis should be on the lead because of the things they go through during their sleep and how fewer people talk about it. Maybe it’s the lack of awareness.

About Sleep Paralysis

Sleep paralysis is a condition that is common among many. It is said that 7.5 percent of people in the world suffer from this condition. But every person is most likely to experience it once in their lifetime. It is more common in children and young people.

Sleep paralysis happens when a person’s mind is awake but their body is still in sleep mode which results in their body being temporarily paralyzed but with their mind completely woke, their consciousness alive and them being aware of their surroundings. The human brain goes through many stages during sleep. There is a stage called Rapid eye movement (REM) stage during which the brain goes highly active while the body muscles stop working at all. This is the stage where most people experience dreaming. And because their body muscles are completely shut down they are unable to react to these dreams in real life.

Sleep paralysis also happens when the brain suddenly escapes the REM stage and snaps back to reality while the body is still unable to move because of muscle shutdown and hence is in a paralyzed state. Sleep paralysis can occur in the start of falling asleep or while a person is about to wake up and can be differentiated as premarital or postmarital sleep paralysis.

Types of Sleep Paralysis

It is further specified into two more types. ISP (isolated sleep paralysis) and RSP (recurrent isolated sleep paralysis). Irregular sleeping patterns, Long term stress can trigger ISP. It happens for a short period of time and it is not related to the medical or mental conditions of a person.
Whereas RSP is a repetitive pattern of sleep paralysis that tends to last for a longer period of time. It is opposite to ISP and is directly related to mental illnesses and the use of certain medicines.

It is followed by strange hallucinations. Almost 4 senses are affected by sleep paralysis. People start to see things that don’t actually exist.
People experience different forms of hallucinations. Some say that they feel the presence of another entity in their space which makes them fear a hundred things at once. Another form of hallucination is named as incubus aka the male demon phenomenon, in which a person might feel a bone-crushing weight on their chest. It almost suffocates them to death but in their hallucination. They hallucinate a ghost or a demon holding their body down and strangling them to death. There is a possibility that they might see the things they fear the most.

They might start hearing unbearable voices around them like a lot of people talking or whispering loudly, scary music playing, wind howling like they are in the middle of a forest. experiencing Triggering flashes and bright lights is also possible.
For some people V-M (vestibular-motor) hallucinations are Common. This is the type where a person undergoes an out-of-body experience. During V-M hallucination a person feels like their soul escaped their body and the body is still lying still where it was.

This lasts for a few minutes and is most likely to end in no time. But those few minutes are terrible enough to ruin the rest of your night and sleep. Some people might not be able to sleep at all after it. It is really some sort of horror movie scene which is for a few minutes only but seems never-ending.

Some people believe that sleep paralysis is more than just a neurological process. They connect it with the spiritual world. They believe if you are able to handle your sleep paralysis and overcome the process without being scared of it, it’s a gateway to something new. A world you never imagined and it gives you a chance to experience new things, a whole different perspective of life. And for the ones who believe that the whole process is not frightening but rather fascinating.

Sleep paralysis can be a spine-chilling experience. People have explained it as “the feeling of experiencing death” while talking about it. Factors like Severe insomnia, sleep deprivation because of stress, bipolar disorder, PTSD, and also the use of some medicines can trigger sleep paralysis. Substance abuse can also be the reason why one might go through it.

Why does sleep paralysis happen in the first place?

There is no valid answer to that but it’s definitely dependent on genetics. What makes it more worst is the fact that there is no proper treatment for it. For very severe conditions the best a doctor could do is treat it with anti-anxiety or anti-depressants. Which of course comes with many other side effects.

Although there is no proper cure for sleep paralysis it can still be prevented by taking certain measures.
Sleeping on your back can trigger it more. Specialists advise avoiding this position. Similarly fixing sleep patterns is very effective. Stress causes it more so knowing how to deal with stress and stressful situations in a calm way is very important. Treatment of mental illness is very necessary because it is a very crucial factor causing sleep paralysis. Taking care of physical health can also make a difference. Proper workout schedules and meditation are also found helpful.

Sleep paralysis is a strange thing. I’d had dozens of episodes at university when I’d take naps, and when I looked at it, read that’s something about the brain being disrupted and waking up before the body, which is why you can’t move when you’re hallucinating that there’s a faceless man climbing across the floor towards you.

― Candice Carty-Williams, Queenie

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