5 Things You Need To Know About Sleep Paralysis
It’s one of the most terrifying phenomena known to man, sleep paralysis, the frightening ordeal of waking up suddenly in the dead of night, temporarily unable to move a muscle or even speak. For some, it happens nightly, and others experience horrifying visions and sensations during their paralysis. Whether you’ve suffered from it personally or not, here are five things that you need to know about sleep paralysis.
5It’s More Common Than You Think
According to a study taken in America in 2011 in which 3,600 random people were asked whether they had experienced symptoms of sleep paralysis, a shocking 65% said they had, and research undertaken by the sleep paralysis project found that certain social groups tend to be more at risk of falling victim to the frightening disorder.
For example, their test results showed that a higher number of African Americans suffered from sleep paralysis than other ethnicities, and the most common age range that is affected by the sleep disorder is 16-43-year-olds, though people younger and older than this have reported being affected, too.
4You Can’t Wake Yourself Up
Some people have mastered a practice called lucid dreaming, which means that these people will retain a certain amount of control and consciousness while they are dreaming, allowing them to, for instance, wake themselves from an intense nightmare. Unfortunately, this does not work for sleep paralysis.
This is because sleep paralysis occurs when a person is halfway between being awake and in REM sleep, which means they are not technically dreaming, as their eyes are still open and their senses alert.
People have reported trying desperately to wiggle their toes or scream to wake themselves fully, but it’s no use, and the sufferer simply must wait for the paralysis to pass, however, long it takes.
3You May See Some Nasty Stuff
Though it’s rarer than the sensation of being paralysed itself, some people do report very frightening visions and sensations while in their paralysed state.
For instance, many have reported feeling a weight on their chest during a sleep paralysis episode, as though an invisible being of some kind is pinning them to the bed.
Others report hearing voices in the room, in one case a man reported he heard heavy breathing and deep growling coming from just behind him, though he was unable even to turn around and look.
Possibly the scariest thing about sleep paralysis though is that some people experiencing a sleep paralysis attack actually claim to see figures in the room with them, dark shadows looming over them while they are completely unable to move, which brings us to point number two….
2People See The Same Things
One of the most inexplicable and terrifying facts about sleep paralysis is that people from all around the world who have no contact with each other have reported seeing the same thing during their episodes.
The most commonly reported apparition seen by those afflicted with sleep paralysis is “the old hag”. Many authors and psychiatrists who have studied sleep paralysis have noted that many of their patients report the presence of a hideous old woman during their episodes, who seems to take pleasure in the fear and panic she is causing, cackling at her victims as they lie there.
This hag is nothing new, however, throughout the history of sleep paralysis she has been described. In fact in Scandinavian folklore, the belief is that sleep paralysis itself is brought on by the soul of a fallen woman, which has left its own body to terrify innocent people while they sleep in their beds. This entity, which Scandinavians refer to as a “mare” is in fact where the term nightmare originates from.
This recurring apparition has led many to believe sleep paralysis is supernatural in nature, rather than medical, and it is very difficult to come up with an explanation as to why so many people report seeing the same entity.
1We Do Know How To Treat It
As truly bizarre and frightening as the phenomena of sleep paralysis is, doctors have found that it is thankfully quite easy to treat.
Studies have shown the main cause of sleep paralysis, and all the scariness that comes with it is simply not getting enough sleep. Without enough REM sleep, the brain finds it harder to switch off, sometimes resulting in the limbo state between being awake and dreaming in which sleep paralysis takes place.
Also, high levels of stress and anxiety are known to trigger sleep paralysis attacks, and even eating big meals or consuming alcohol right before bed can be triggers too.
It’s recommended that the best way to avoid sleep paralysis is to learn to truly relax and switch off all your worries before you go to sleep and get between 6-8 hours good sleep a night.