Sleep paralysis – A phenomenon in which an individual feels that they are is trapped, their mind is working, but their body is not. It mainly occurs either during the stage when we are falling asleep or during awakening. The victim knows that they are dreaming and they want to wake up, but they are helpless and cannot move their muscles to respond. This state can last from several seconds to several minutes.
Some of the causative factors for this conscious nightmare could be sleep deprivation, stress, migraines, anxiety, and altered sleep-wake cycle. It is normal and natural sometimes, but when it starts occurring frequently, then precautions must be taken.
Sleep paralysis may include hallucinations such as suffocation, falling from a height, feeling pressure on the chest, difficulty in breathing, dragged from bed, flying, etc. People are trying to explain this weird phenomenon for centuries.
“The Nightmare”, a famous oil painting of 1781 by Henry Fuseli, depicts the state of sleep paralysis (image below). In that, a simultaneous picturization of a dreaming woman and the content of her dreams is done.
Symptoms include humming, hissing, buzzing sounds with the REM (rapid eye movement). These are accompanied by intense emotions of fear and panic. It is known to be due to a disturbance in a regular sleeping pattern or so-called sleep-wake cycle.
According to another theory, it may be the result of overlapping of different sleep states along with some neural imbalances. Some scientists also claim that it is a genetic disorder and there is a gene which is linked with sleep paralysis. But no clear reason of sleep paralysis has been identified yet.
Now, how to deal with this strange situation? Getting enough sleep, both in quality and quantity, can help to cure this. Making the sleep-wake cycle regular is also important. It could also be linked with other sleep disorders such as narcoleptic disorder. So, you need to check the root cause of it. If it is linked with other disorders, then you need a sleep disorder specialist.
Sleep Paralysis isn’t as dangerous as it sounds since does not cause any physical harm to our body. No clinical deaths caused by sleep paralysis are recorded. Hence, there is no need to be afraid of this situation. All you need is to take proper rest and regular sleep.