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THE HAUNTING OF SLEEP PARALYSIS

An article on sleep paralysis, written by Shivangi Singh

Do you ever feel like you are awake, but you cannot move? When you wanted to scream but could not, you feel like something is pulling you down? Well, Sleep paralysis and nightmares are shockingly common. Still, if you have never experienced it consider yourself lucky.

Sleep paralysis is one of the creepiest and scariest sleep disorders. It is related to “night terrors”, a feeling of being conscious but unable to move. It is a midway stage between wakefulness and sleep and might
occur by a combination of exhaustion, possible substance abuse and insufficient sleep.

It can also strikeout of the blue even when none of the above things happened. The sufferer is unable to speak or move for a few minutes. Some may even feel a sense of choking. Few also see scary hallucinations and become afraid.

When and how does it strike?

It mostly strikes at the age of 15 to 20 years. Every one out of five people has at least once experienced sleep paralysis. In the case of students, one out of three students has experienced this at least one time.

People when they trigger sleep paralysis, they cannot show the movement of any body parts except for eyes. They start to feel that something heavy is kept on their chest, squeezing the air from lungs and throat and due to this choking, they start imagining some scary or cloaked figures just within the range of their vision. To be very clear this is not something which you can say dreaming. This happens to the person when they are awake.
Now, for all those of you who have watched ‘The Haunting of Hill House’, a Netflix horror series, you must be very familiar with this term. In series, the sleep paralysis as explained by Arthur is that we cycle through different stages of sleep and in our deepest state our brain switches off the muscles to stop us from acting out our dreams.

A still from the Netflix series ‘The Haunting of Hill House’

Not only this but sleep paralysis was also shown in a recent k-drama released on Netflix named ‘It’s Okay to Not be Okay’. In this show, Mun-Yeong (lead female character) experiences sleep paralysis because of the nightmare of her mother who continuously haunts her.

A scene from Netflix series ‘It’s Okay to Not be Okay’

Now, the question running in your mind will be how exactly it happens.

So, when you are asleep, your brain gives a command to your body voluntary muscles to go in a state of paralysis which is known as Atonia. This limits your physical movement in your dreams and helps in protecting your body from any external injury. Now, sometimes during this sleep behaviour, disorder Atonia does not occur properly and voluntary muscles move while the mind remains asleep. Due to this people walk in their sleep, totally unaware of it. Sometimes people suffering from this also do some crazy stuff. In sleep, paralysis body remains paralyzed but the brain awakes which is quite the opposite of sleepwalking.

Sleep paralysis will terrorize you, but you need to tell yourself – “It’s just a hallucination, nothing happening right now is real”, and start counting numbers either in ascending or descending order, breathe in a relaxed fashion and keep making small attempts to move body parts such as fingers or toes. Surely, it will feel like an eternity to the sufferer, but it gets over within a few minutes or even seconds.

If you are suffering from sleep paralysis or any such disorder better way to prevent it is to improve your sleeping habits, meditate and sleep at least 6-8 hours daily.

You can also visit some websites for more help:
https://stopsleepparalysis.org/
https://www.healthline.com/health/sleep/isolated-sleep-paralysis
https://www.your.md/condition/sleep-paralysis

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