I touched on sleep paralysis the other day, but decided to make a more detailed post because it can’t be summed up in a few lines.
What is sleep paralysis?
Sleep paralysis is a phenomena experienced by people either falling asleep or just waking up. Sufferers of sleep paralysis experience a brief period of time where they are unable to move, and this is usually accompanied by terrifying sensations, visions, and sounds. The most common of these are the sensation of something sitting heavily on your chest, a figure standing over/climbing onto the bed, heavy breathing, or voices.
What causes sleep paralysis?
Simply speaking, it’s an overlapping of two parts of the sleep cycle - REM sleep and the waking stages. REM sleep is when dreams occur, and so basically what happens is you’re dreaming while you’re technically awake. Because you’re not yet fully awake, your body is unresponsive, giving the sensation that you’re paralysed. The visions that are seen are actually dream images being projected into your waking life as hallucinations. Sleep paralysis is more likely to occur if you go to bed incredibly tired or sleep on your back.
Sleep paralysis and the paranormal
There has been a lot of debate about the relationship between sleep paralysis and the paranormal. Spirits have been known to communicate through dreams, and so some people believe that the hallucinations seen during sleep paralysis are actually spirits trying to make contact. Others believe that sleep paralysis is demonic in nature, and that people who suffer from it are having trouble with demonic hauntings or possession. While the link between sleep paralysis and the paranormal has never been proven, it is odd that a vast majority (nearly all) sleep paralysis episodes are negative in nature. Most sleep paralysis sufferers report their hallucinations being terrifying and incredibly distressing. Some people claim that this must be down to something paranormal, because ordinary dreams are not usually overwhelmingly negative.