From feeling utter terror while falling asleep, to waking unable to move or speak. Sleep Paralysis is real and it can be terrifying!
Many sufferers describe Sleep Paralysis as a Paranormal feeling and often claim to feel a ghostly presence nearby., accompanied by strange sounds and smells. Commonly, the smell of smoke and sweet incense are present. Some even claim that there is evil present, even going as far as to report physical and sexual assault.
Some experience autoscopy – a condition where one sees a mirror image of oneself or the feeling of levitation.
Religion plays a massive role. According to certain cultures, there could be witch craft, supernatural occurrences and even alien abduction at play. Contemporary medical reasoning suggests however that the experience is not so “way out” as suggested.
Suggested causes range from Schizophrenia, seizures, hypertension, narcolepsy, waking up frequently to shift work all being contributors. There are even reports of normal healthy people experiencing Sleep Paralysis.
Sleeping on your back may be a contributor, try a new sleep position and see if this makes any difference.
There is a psychological side to Sleep Paralysis too. Disassociated phenomena (emotional numbing), panic disorder and even post-traumatic stress disorder are all linked to Sleep Paralysis. Those who are highly stressed, emotionally sensitive or experiencing chronic fear seem to be more at risk.
Researchers (Denis, French, Rowe, Zavos, Nolan, Parsons & Gregory, 2015) for the Journal of Sleep Research, conducted a study titled “A twin and molecular genetics study of sleep paralysis and associated factors.” The study investigated the link between sleep paralysis and genetics.
Researchers compared sleep and sleep paralysis data for identical and nonidentical twins and siblings. Apparently, genetics was a factor in 53 percent of cases of sleep paralysis among their subjects.
While research revealed that stress, trauma, anxiety and depression made sleep paralysis more likely, it also suggested that family links to sleep paralysis could exist. – Extract from Body Mind Soul Spirit
One must remember that Night terrors and Sleep Paralysis are not the same. Where Sleep Paralysis is linked to the physical inability to move, Night Terrors wakes a person with a jolt followed by screaming, crying, an increased heart rate, heavier breathing and sweating. Quite often, the sufferer will fall asleep again only to wake later on completely unaware of their ordeal.
On a more mysterious note, the “Hag Phenomena” is still largely unexplained, where people claim to see an old woman or witch in description standing over them. Could this be our psyche playing tricks on us?
Things you can try to ease the effects are trying to follow a healthy sleeping pattern.
Avoid stimulants like caffeine and sugars before bedtime, exercise regularly and follow a healthy diet. try to avoid late night snacking.
One also needs to monitor their health closely. Stress and depression are major contributors. Keep these in check and try to find ways to better cope with them.
Summing the disorder up, we need to remember that it is just that. A disorder. No need to stress about it or panic. It’s one of those occurrences that may possibly happen to each and every one of us at some stage. It’s temporary, harmless and will pass.
By Chantel Notaku JVR