Have you ever experienced the sensation that when you were sleeping, and someone was pressing against your chest and thus you could not breathe but could not resist? This is a sign showing that you may have had sleep paralysis.
The phenomenon of sleep paralysis is often associated with beliefs about the forces of evil around. This phenomenon is more common than you think. Even science cannot completely explain the phenomenon of sleep paralysis.
The phenomenon of sleep paralysis
Sleep paralysis is a condition when you feel your whole body not being able to move even though your mind is still alert. Sleep paralysis occurs when the body switches between sleep and wake. At that time, you will feel like you cannot move or speak for a few seconds or up to a few minutes.
1. Signs of sleep paralysis
The main sign you experience during sleep paralysis is being aware of your surroundings but temporarily unable to move or talk. This can happen when you wake up or go to sleep. You can feel the following signs:
- Cannot breathe deeply
- Feel the extreme fear
- Have a headache or whole body
- Feel like your chest is tightening
- Unable to open eyes (in many cases)
- Imagine someone in your room and wants to harm you
The sleep paralysis time will not last long, from a few seconds to several minutes. However, after that, you still have feelings of insecurity, excessive anxiety, and difficulty going back to sleep.
2. Hallucinations during sleep paralysis
The phenomenon of sleep paralysis becomes a major obsession in part because of the appearance of frightening hallucinations. According to the National Sleep Foundation, these hallucinations often fall into three main groups:
- The illusion of appearance: A person with sleep paralysis will feel like a devil or a stranger appears near him. This object can enter the room, walk around you or even sit right next to your bed.
- Physical hallucinations: At that time, you may feel like someone or something is pressing hard on the chest or abdomen, making you feel very uncomfortable and almost unable to breathe.
- Motor hallucinations: In this case, a person with sleep paralysis will imagine that he or she is floating in a river, hovering, or having an experience like “the soul leaves the body”. Then, you will feel as if the soul or mind seems to have left the body and is moving to observe everything from the outside.
Hallucinations of the appearance of a stranger or devil are the most common in people who experience sleep paralysis.
3. People who are prone to sleep paralysis
Science has recorded that about 4/10 people will experience the phenomenon of being suppressed. This condition is more common in adolescents. The phenomenon of being suppressed can be inherited in families. Some factors that are believed to be related to this phenomenon include:
- Sleep deprivation
- Bipolar disorder
- Leg cramps at night
- Substance abuse
- Frequent stress
- Sleep schedules changing constantly
- Effect of medication (such as medication for hyperactivity disorder)
4. Is sleep paralysis dangerous?
Sleep paralysis is often associated with other sleep disorders, including narcolepsy. This is a form of a neurological disorder that affects sleep control and alertness, causing you to get excessively sleepy during the day and unable to control sleepiness.
Sleep paralysis is usually not dangerous but will cause you to be confused and scared. Many people may experience sleep paralysis only 1-2 times in their lifetime, while some people experience this phenomenon a few times a month or more often.
Causes of Sleep paralysis
Science has discovered the common causes that make people encounter this quite strange phenomenon.
1. Disorders in the sleep phase
Many popular concepts still state that being suppressed is a supernatural and mysterious phenomenon caused by a god or a devil. However, experts have provided a clear scientific basis for this fairly common phenomenon from the sleep stages.
Sleep paralysis happens when part of the REM sleep phase (fast eye movement stage or dream phase) occurs while you are awake. The period of rapid eye movement is when the brain is very active, and dreams often appear. Except for eye and muscle movements during breathing, the fact that your body cannot move will prevent you from accidentally harming yourself during your dreams.
Although there is no exact study of why REM sleep sometimes occurs when you are still awake, there are several possible causes:
- Not getting enough sleep
- Sleep disturbance
- Suffering from narcolepsy
2. Psychological trauma
Dr. Clete Kushida at the Stanford Sleep Health Center in Redwood, California (USA) thinks that in addition to disorders in the sleep cycle, sleep paralysis can be a symptom of some mental illnesses. In this case, people who suffer from trauma or depression also often notice the frequency of sleep paralysis.
In addition, the phenomenon of sleep paralysis often comes from psychological stress or pressure from work. The habits of using a lot of alcoholic drinks or smoking are also more likely to cause you to have hallucinations when you are sleeping.
What should you do when you have sleep paralysis?
If you have a good understanding of the cause of sleep paralysis, you should begin to find out how you should find solutions to deal with this phenomenon to avoid confusion.
1. How to return to a normal state
When you have sleep paralysis, you will probably feel extremely scared and confused. Then, remember a few notes to quickly return to normal status.
- Focus on breathing: The more you panic during sleep paralysis, the more it puts pressure on your chest, making it harder for you to hold your breath. So, you need to focus on your breath to keep calm until this situation is over.
- Light movements: Small movements like holding hands slightly or moving toes will not be too difficult. You should also try to move the facial muscles by wincing and pursing the lips to quickly escape the feeling of being crushed.
- Try to talk: You may have numbness in your throat. Even though your throat is numb, try to focus as hard as you can to say something. If not, try a dry cough as a way to wake yourself up.
- Stay in position: When you feel like someone is pinching you down, trying to resist it will not work. Instead, relax and calm down by telling yourself: “Everything will be over soon.”
2. Treatment for sleep paralysis
If you find yourself unable to move or talk for a few seconds or minutes while sleeping or waking, it may be a symptom of sleep paralysis. Since this is not considered a disease, you do not need to worry. However, keep an eye on some signs showing that you should go to the doctor as soon as possible:
- Feel excessively nervous
- Feel tired all-day
- Cannot sleep all night
You should also be aware of a number of issues that your doctor can discuss with you to help diagnose the problem more accurately. In this case, the doctor will usually:
- Ask about your recent sleep disorders
- Ask to describe what happens when you have sleep paralysis
- Please take out a sleep diary for the past few weeks
3. How to prevent sleep paralysis
Most cases of sleep paralysis will go away on their own and there is no need to seek treatment. However, acting on the causes of sleep paralysis will help you feel much less nervous.
- Regulate sleep properly: A sufficient sleep of 7 to 9 hours each night and a stable sleeping schedule will help you stabilize your sleep and improve your health.
- Reduce stress in your life: You should adjust your work schedule and take a reasonable rest to regain your balance. Find solutions to relax on the spot such as reading, listening to music or giving yourself a relaxing time with a vacation.
- Treatment of sleep disorders: To stop the fear of sleep paralysis, you should treat the root cause. That means you should completely cure the sleep disorders that you may be experiencing.
Sleep paralysis will no longer be a fear if you understand this phenomenon and know how to handle the situation. Always follow your awake-asleep schedule to avoid numerous risks associated with your sleep.