What is sleep paralysis?
Yesterday night, I had the scariest dream that I have ever had. It wasn’t like a normal nightmare. It was sleep paralysis!
Yesterday night, I had the scariest dream that I have ever had. It wasn’t like a normal nightmare. It felt like some demon took over my body, as if I was being possessed. The only thing saw, was something red and black and I couldn’t talk, move or open my eyes. I wanted to scream, but no sound was coming out of my mouth. I felt so helpless and terrified and I wanted to end the dream.
All of the sudden, I felt a shock, as if the demon exploded or left my body. I woke up in sweat, I didn’t know if I was really possessed for a few minutes. I had to look it up; I wanted to know if it was a common experience. To my relief, I found out that it was called sleep paralysis.
Sleep paralysis is a sleeping disorder that anyone can experience in his or her life. It happens when you pass between the stages of wakefulness and sleep. You’re temporarily unable to move or speak while feeling of being conscious. It usually comes along with hallucinations. It can occur when you fall asleep, it’s called hypnagogic, or when you are waking up, called hypnopompic. However, it can be a symptom of other sleeping disorders, such as Narcolepsy or sleep apnea.
It’s normal that your body is paralysed during your REM sleep, only your eyes, heart and lungs are still active. This is to protect your body and to avoid any movement during your sleep, so you won’t actually execute your dreams. However, by an episode of sleep paralysis, you are aware that you can’t move or speak, which can be terrifying. Especially when hallucinations occur.
As I mentioned before, sleep paralysis can be a symptom of other sleeping disorders such as Narcolepsy. However, that’s not always the case, other causes could be sleep deprivation, irregular sleep patterns, age (teenagers and young adults), stress, certain medications and sleeping on the back.
- Unable to (fully) move, except the eyes.
- Unable to control your breathing
- Feeling of an evil presence in the room
- Pressure on the chest
- Feeling anxious, fear.
- Feeling that you’re falling, being lifted or turning over
- Feeling of being touched
- Stabbing pain
- Joint pains
- Presence of a person, a black shadow
- Doors opening
The best way to get out of an episode of sleep paralysis is to stay calm and to concentrate on one part of the body. Try focussing on one part of the body to break the paralysis. People who experience sleep paralysis usually don’t get enough sleep. Try to get a regular sleeping schedule and get 8 hours of sleep. Try to relief stress and relax, especially before going to bed. Also, switch to another sleeping position if you’re used to sleeping on your back.
Antidepressant medication can also help with sleep paralysis. Nevertheless, getting treatment for sleeping disorders such as narcolepsy and sleep apnea will help to get rid of the symptoms. Also, treating mental health problems can contribute to sleep paralysis.
What is sleep paralysis?
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