What is sleep paralysis

Sleep paralysis: Opening your eyes, you can not move – what to do?

“It was three or four years ago. I went to bed as usual , and then I woke up in the same room, with the same decor and lighting. I woke up because someone walks around me – I clearly heard steps, – says Angelina . – I tried to move, but I did not succeed, and because of this, panic began. I thought three times that I wake up, but I really woke up and was able to move only in the fourth – and realized that it was all in a dream. A terrible feeling: panic, you start screaming inside yourself, but naturally you can’t hear anything. Everything is very realistic. ” The condition that Olga describes is called sleep paralysis: the person confronting him realizes that he has woken up, but cannot move, as if he is paralyzed. Sometimes in this condition in humans arise hallucinations.  

In fact, paralysis is an integral part of sleep. When we are in the phase of REM sleep, our brain is active (it is at this time that we usually see dreams), and the body is almost paralyzed – only the eyeballs and muscles responsible for breathing can move. Because of this, we cannot harm ourselves when we see something in a dream and want to act.

Usually the ability to move back to us before waking up, but it happens that this process is disrupted. A person is in a semi-conscious state: his brain wakes up, sometimes he can even open his eyes and look at the room, but still cannot move. This condition is called sleep paralysis – similar episodes last from a few seconds to a few minutes. “The reason for the development of sleep paralysis is the recently discovered ability of the brain to sleep and only partially awake. Thus, when most of the brain has already woken up, those of its zones that inhibit muscle tone during sleep with dream visions continue to “sleep”.

Sleep paralysis is a fairly common phenomenon: according to American studies, almost 8% of people have experienced it at least once in their lifetime. Among students and patients of psychiatric clinics, the proportion of such cases is even higher: 28% and almost 32%, respectively. Mikhael notes that more often people encounter him: according to his data, up to 40% of people under the age of thirty years and 5% of people in the older age groups experienced the symptoms of sleep paralysis. Most often, the symptoms of sleep paralysis appear on waking up, but it can also occur when a person falls asleep.

There are other signs of sleep paralysis: in this state, many feel that their chest seems to have squeezed something, and it is difficult for them to breathe – although in fact they breathe freely. Some during this state manage to open their eyes, which is impossible to do in a normal dream. Many feel that there is someone in the room , and someone even has visual and auditory hallucinations – they see or hear a creature that wants to harm them.

Sleep paralysis is a fairly common phenomenon: according to American studies, almost 8% of people have experienced it at least once in their lifetime.

“When sleep paralysis happens, it’s hard to believe that I’m still sleeping, because the situation is exactly copying reality,” says editor Julia . – It is dreaming that I open my eyes in my room, in my bed, but I feel the presence of something “demonic”. And then every time a fantasy throws something new: this “being” hangs over you, it runs across the room to you, it stands in the corner – and so on. The appearance of this “creature” also varies. What is always the case is that you cannot move a muscle, you try to shout, to give up and nothing. The real paralysis, mixed with pure horror and such a heavy chest that it is impossible to sigh. ”

Many people note that bouts of sleep paralysis worsen when a difficult period in life comes. “I studied at the institute and worked in parallel, pouring sadness with alcohol at regular parties, ” says the designer Ann and then sleep paralysis began to manifest itself more severely and more often. For example, I remember how I sleep – and I have a nightmare. I wake up and see a black incomprehensible mass that floats in the air above me and as if begins to pull me out of my body – an eerie sensation. There was a deafening ringing in his ears, it seemed that the eardrums were going to burst. I became so scared that I ran to sleep with my parents (I was still living with them) as soon as I could finally wake up. ”

E ven repetitive sleep paralysis may be a single symptom does not affect the quality and life expectancy – but there are also more complex situations, “Sleep paralysis can also be a symptom of narcolepsy. This is a neurological pathology, it has several characteristic signs, the main among them is pronounced daytime sleepiness (that is, a person can fall asleep during daytime activities). ” According to the expert, it is important to distinguish between such cases.

Angels and Demons

To explore sleepy paralysis began relatively recently, but there is every reason to believe that it exists for much longer – just humanity for a long time considered its attacks to be the intrigues of demons and evil spirits that attack at night. “This state is really frightening for a person, especially if he faces it for the first time. If a person does not understand what is happening to him, then he explains this by various non-scientific factors . Neuroscientist Baland Jalal notes that in such a frightening situation, the human brain is trying to interpret what is happening, and can connect for this cultural attitudes, beliefs and memories: “That is why people see ghosts, demons, aliens and even fictions from the past that seem to want to attack them. ”

Many different nations of the world can find many examples of what we would explain today with sleepy paralysis.   For example, the Greek physician Pavel Aeginsky in the seventh century of our era believed that the Faun at night jumps on the chest of his victims. In German folklore, a mare is mentioned that sits on a sleeping chest. In similar demons ( mara ), who come at night and strangle people, believed in other countries – for example, in France, Iceland, Denmark and Norway. There are legends about succubus and incubus – night demons who seek to have sex with people.

How to cope with sleep paralysis

Attacks of sleep paralysis scare, but by themselves they are not dangerous – and often pass by themselves over time. Sleep paralysis can be associated with insomnia or   deprivation of sleep , as well as violation of the regime – for example, due to shift work or getting into another time zone.“The factors contributing to the development of seizures are heredity (the presence of the same attacks on the maternal line), sleeping position on the back, changing time zones, disrupting sleep patterns, canceling psychotropic drugs,” notes Mikhael . “Accordingly, if these factors are eliminated – do not sleep on your back, do not disrupt sleep, then the likelihood of developing attacks will be reduced to a minimum.”

Experts advise   care   about   sleep hygiene : sleep for six to eight hours, try to go to sleep and wake up at about the same time, make sure that in the room where you sleep, it is dark, quiet, not too cold and not too hot, try to keep tight Do not eat dinner right before bedtime, do not smoke, and do not drink alcohol and caffeinated beverages before bedtime. Scientists note that sleep palsy is more common in those who sleep on their backs – so you can try changing your favorite posture. “If sleep paralysis is a sign of narcolepsy, then medication therapy is prescribed, which can significantly reduce this condition or use it completely . ”

For me, sleep paralysis is a signal that I have driven myself and urgently need to start the unloading operation.

Julia says that a couple of months ago she had especially strong bouts of sleepy paralysis – visions continued even when she managed to regain control of her body. “Quite an eerie sensation: you were just paralyzed and suddenly you wake up screaming with the thought“ who is crying? ”. It turns out you. And at the same time, I have been twitching all over for several minutes, ”she says. After the situation repeated the following night, Julia took measures: “I drank herbal tinctures, tried to listen to light music, took a bath with bubbles – in other words, did everything that usually helps me relax and restore emotional balance. I can say that it helped: sleep paralysis has not been repeated since. But even if it happens again, for me this is a signal that I have driven myself and I need to urgently start the unloading operation: nothing terrible happens, I just need to be more attentive to myself in the near future. ”

Sometimes people find their own ways to deal with the problem. “Over time, I developed a tactic of faster waking up during sleep paralysis – I tried to move my finger with a phalanx, concentrated all my attention only on this. Then I managed to move my finger and hand, and I woke up, ”saysAnn . “ Somewhere in half a year my sleep paralysis attacks stopped as abruptly as they started, and I don’t miss it at all.”

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