How does it feel?
If you never had sleep paralysis before then you are really lucky. I had it pretty frequently this summer and it was really annoying because it forces me to wake myself up in an uncomfortable way. Here is how i feel: I suddenly thought i am awake and start to move. However, I later realized that I cannot really move and no matter how much it seems that I moved, I came back to my sleeping body all the time. It’s as if I saw my soul separate from my body and it keeps teleport back to my body. The fact that it is annoying is because I am struggling to get oxygen and find myself breathing heavily. I do not know if this happens to other sleep paralysis victim as well. The only way I did to wake myself each time I had this paralysis was to try to concentrate very hard and try to lift myself up. It is very hard to explain but it feels like I am being pushed down by a strong gravitational force and I have to fight against it. There were sometimes where it is tougher to lift my body and wake myself up.There were once where I saw horrific figure appears as well as scary sounds. This woke me up. As one of my friends told me about it beforehand, I was able to tell myself that the figure was not real and I turn out fine as I woke up. However, after I fall asleep once more, I kept waking up to another type of horrific figure; which really was more annoying than scary since I still was aware that it was not real.
This article talks about a severe case of sleep paralysis which the victim experienced his first time in a military base and was so shocked that it made him called reinforcement. It is exactly how I felt and would have believed so if I did not spoil me the secret.
What exactly is happening to your body while it is paralyzed and what causes it?
According to to the American Academy of sleep medicine, sleep paralysis is categorized as a parasomnia, which is having undesirable events during your sleep time. It states that “Atonia” is the process where your brain commands your muscle to stay still and relax while asleep. The explanation they gave was that we are awake while we are still in this “Atonia” process. This is why we feel as i mentioned above, awake but still asleep.
From numerous article i found, it seems that one of the main causes of sleep paralysis is from depression and anxieties. The sleep paralysis project has look into their 2011 paper about the prevalence of sleep paralysis, which consist of a gathering of 30 studies altogether. The sample size was over 36,000 people and they found that around 8% of the people are experiencing sleep paralysis, which increases to 28% for those who have irregular sleep patterns and still rise further up to 34% for those that suffers psychotic disorders. Another study by Penn State University has also found a similar results with 7.6% of the general population and 31.9% of the people having psychotic disorders such as depression or anxiety are suffering from sleep paralysis.
Therefore, this lead me to conclude that depression or anxieties are a huge factor causing sleep paralysis because the sample size was huge and many studies have found similar results. Moreover, it is unlikely that one would lie about their experience on sleep paralysis and the study was con, which also boost the reliability. Thus, we should reject the null hypothesis and assumed that depression and anxiety does increase the likelihood of having sleep paralysis.
How to deal with it?
The American Academy of sleep medicine suggests that we should see a sleep specialist. In most cases, the treatment varies depending on the cause of the sleep. For example, if you lack sleep, then you should just aim to sleep enough in which the usual optimal times are six to eight hours. However, if you have mental stress or psychotic disorders, then you should consult a psychologist. As you can see the way to deal with this problem is individualized.
According to The Sleep Paralysis Project, they came up with numerous way to cope with this issue. The first is that in the case of feeling being attack by an evil spirit, the victim tries to detach themselves by manipulating their mind so they believed that they are a third party. They would basically feel less involved by the attack and be able to endure it better. Another common way is that they would try not to sleep on their back and staying calm by trying to breath as usually as possible for relaxation. They were also cases where some people can regulate their breathing such as stopping it or increase its intensity to recover. They can also try to induce noises to signaled someone nearby to wake them.
By Dhaam Sakuntabhai