Sleep paralysis is often terrifying to experience. You wake up unable to move, as if there is something on your chest. It becomes difficult to breathe. When you try to scream, your mouth doesn't open, your voice doesn't make any sound.
A few panicky moments later, you can get up. You then turn on the light and there is no one in the room.
You have just experienced sleep paralysis and it is more common than you think.
Sleep paralysis: Cause of this sleep disorder
Sleep paralysis is a desynchronization between mind and body at bedtime.
When we sleep, our body and our mind must enter this state of rest at the same time.
Normally, when we sleep, the body is "paralyzed" so that the movements we make in a dream are not reproduced in real life.
It turns out that in some situations there can be a lack of synchronization. This is when sleep paralysis occurs.
If your mind wakes up, but your body stays in a state of rest, you can't move and it can be scary to experience.
It's like your body is sleeping, but you're awake, trapped. But that's not all that makes this experience one of the scariest we can have.
The human brain is still working and it hates doing everything. This is one of the reasons we dream. When we are in a state of sleep paralysis, it is no different.
You are scared and your brain fills the confusion you are in with sights, sounds and other sensations. This is the scary part.
Sleep paralysis occurs during REM sleep, the lightest phase of sleep. It is a common situation, affecting most people at least once in their life.
Because it is a failure of synchrony, sleep paralysis usually occurs when we are about to fall asleep or just before waking up.
It is in this moment of transition that the problem is most likely to occur.
It turns out that there is no certainty as to the cause of sleep paralysis and it is estimated that everyone will experience it at least once in their life.
However, certain situations can increase the chances of this happening. Those are:
- The stress;
- Post-traumatic stress disorder;
- Irregular sleep;
- Sudden changes in life;
- Drug-induced sleep;
- High fatigue;
- Drug use;
- Excessive consumption of alcohol;
- Low levels of sleep hormones (such as melatonin).
- Narcolepsy (a disease that makes a person fall asleep suddenly and uncontrollably).
Sleep Paralysis: Causes of High Frequency
When sleep paralysis happens very often, it could be a sign that something more complicated is going on.
While almost everyone experiences sleep paralysis at least once in their life, those who experience it almost every night can suffer from sleep disorders like narcolepsy.
It is also possible that other conditions cause it. This is the case with post-traumatic stress disorder, which can cause sleep paralysis.
In most cases this should not worry you, but when paralysis is common, you should consult a doctor to find out what may be causing the disease.
If you are of the Muslim faith, this article regarding sleep paralysis in Islam is a must for you.