One of the spooky things anyone can ever experience is, sleep paralysis; to see yourself paralyzed for a few minutes while you see stuff… or feel the presence of another being in your room is simply scary.
However, science has answers to this experience, so after this article, it is left for you to decide if the experience is a result of evil spirits in your room, or simply stress. Let’s take a look, shall we?
According to sleep researchers, sleep paralysis is a sign that your body is not moving smoothly through the stages of sleep. Besides, sleep paralysis is rarely linked to deep underlying psychiatric problems.
Furthermore, symptoms of sleep paralysis have been described in many ways and mostly attributed to an evil presence over the centuries.
In essence, it is believed that unseen night demons in ancient times, the old hag in Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare, and alien abductors are responsible for sleeping paralysis.
Almost, if not all, cultures throughout history have stories of shadowy evil creatures that terrify humans at night, while they watch with a paralyzed body. People have looked for explanations for this spooky sleep-time paralysis.
What is sleep paralysis?
SP is a feeling of being conscious of your environment, but unable to move. It happens when a person passes between stages of wakefulness and sleep.
During these transitions, the person may be unable to move or speak for a few seconds to a few minutes. Some persons may also feel pressure or a sense of choking during this experience.
SP may accompany other sleep disorders such as narcolepsy, which is an overpowering need to sleep caused by a problem with the brain’s ability to regulate sleep.
Furthermore, sleep paralysis usually occurs one of two times; when you are falling asleep, hypnogogic, or predominant sleep paralysis. Also, when you are waking up hypnopompic or postdormital sleep paralysis.
What happens during Hypnagogic SP?
Your body slowly relaxes as you fall asleep; typically, you become less aware, so you do not notice the change. However, if you become or remain aware while falling asleep, you may notice that you cannot move or speak.
What is happens during Hypnopompic SP?
Your body alternates between rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (N-REM) during sleep. One cycle of REM and NREM sleep lasts about 90 minutes. NREM sleep happens first and takes up to 75% of your overall sleep time. During NREM sleep, your body relaxes and restores itself.
At the end of NREM, your sleep shifts to REM, your eyes move quickly, and dreams occur, however, the rest of your body stays calm. The muscles are turned off during REM sleep. If a person becomes aware before the REM cycle has finished, he may notice that they cannot move or speak.
Who is susceptible to sleep paralysis?
Four out of ten people may have sleep paralysis; it is a common condition, and people often first notice it in their teen years. However, men and women of any age can have it.
Also, sleep paralysis can be genetic; it may run in families. There are other factors that may be connected to sleep paralysis, and they include:
- Mental conditions such as bipolar disorder or stress
- Sleeping on the back (facing the ceiling)
- Lack of sleep
- Use of certain medications, such as medications for ADHD
- Substance abuse
- Sleep schedules that change
How do I know if I have sleep paralysis?
First, this experience is scary, and it leaves a lasting impression on the person. If you find yourself unable to move or speak for a few seconds or minutes while waking up or falling asleep, you have likely isolated recurrent sleep paralysis. However, there is no need to treat this condition and be worried.
However, you can check with your doctor if you have any of the concerns below;
- Anxiety: if you feel anxious about your symptoms
- If your symptoms keep you up all through the night
- If your symptoms leave you very tired and unproductive during the day
What to expect from the doctor
Your doctor may need to gather more information about your sleep routine by doing any of the following:
- He may ask you to describe your symptoms and keep a sleep diary for a few weeks
- Conduct overnight sleep studies or daytime nap studies to ensure you do not have another sleep disorder
- Discuss your health history, which includes any known sleep disorders or any family history of sleep disorders
- Refer you to a sleep specialist for further evaluation
How to treat SP?
Some people do not need treatment for sleep paralysis, but treating any underlying conditions like narcolepsy may help if you are anxious or unable to sleep well.
The treatments may include the following:
- Improving sleep habits such as making sure you get six to eight hours of sleep every night
- Treating mental health problems that may trigger sleep paralysis
- Using antidepressant medication if it is prescribed to help regulate sleep cycles
- Treating other sleep disorders like leg cramps or narcolepsy
What to do if I have sleep paralysis?
There is no need to fear nighttime demons if you have occasional sleep paralysis. You can take steps to manage this disorder.
First, ensure you get enough sleep, do what you can to relieve yourself from stress, especially just before bedtime.
Also, try new sleeping positions if you sleep on your back. However, try to see a doctor if SP often prevents you from enjoying a good night’s sleep.
So, are there evil spirits in your room? Before you answer this question, ensure you try some of the self-treatments like changing your sleeping position, sleeping on time, and avoiding whatever gives you stress. If there is no improvement, kindly see your doctor and discuss your sleeping disorder.