SLEEP PARALYSIS AND IT’S SCIENTIFIC AND OCCULT EXPLANATION
It was a typical summer afternoon in Kolkata, I took a break from my daily schedule for a quick power nap. But It turned into a nightmare. Just, within half an hour I was awake and unable to move. It felt like I was glued to the bed. My daughter was in the same room, but I couldn’t even lift a finger let alone call for help. I can vividly recollect that I saw someone entering my room and stood beside my bed. When I saw a dark figure, in such confusing mental state also, I thought the figure was an evil spirit. This fearsome experience led me to know more about this condition and it’s cause and I just took help of Google.
“You will suddenly become alert but realize that you are, in fact, unable to move a muscle or utter a sound, but also because this experience is often — as in the case above — accompanied by terrifying hallucinations” – these lines can explain ‘sleep paralysis’ in short.
Sleep paralysis is not a medical emergency. Sleep paralysis is usually caused by a disconnection between mind and body, which happens during sleep. Being familiar with the symptoms can provide peace of mind. The most common characteristic of an episode of sleep paralysis is the inability to move or speak. An episode may last for a few seconds to about 2 minutes.
You may also experience:
feeling as if something is pushing you down
feeling like someone or something is in the room
hypnagogic and hypnopompic experiences (HHEs), which are described as hallucinations during, right before, or after sleep
feeling as if you’re going to die
Episodes typically end on their own, or when another person touches or moves you. You may be aware of what’s happening but are still unable to move or speak during an episode. You may also be able to recall the details of the episode after temporary paralysis disappears. In some cases, some people experience dreamlike hallucinations that may cause fear or anxiety, but these hallucinations are harmless.
All ages of people can experience sleep paralysis. However, certain groups are at a higher risk than others.
Groups that are at an increased risk include people with the following conditions:
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Causes of sleep paralysis as per medical science :
poor sleep hygiene, or not having proper sleep habits that are necessary for good quality sleep
sleep disorders like sleep apnea
Having a disrupted sleep schedule has also been linked to sleep paralysis. Examples where your sleep schedule can be disrupted include working night shifts or being jet lagged.
In some cases, sleep paralysis seems to run in families. However, this is rare. There’s no clear scientific evidence that the condition is hereditary.
Sleeping on your back may increase your chances of an episode. Lack of sleep may also increase the risk of sleep paralysis.
Scientists today explain it as a basic brain glitch that occurs at the intersection between wakefulness and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. When we fall asleep, our body alternates between Non-REM and REM sleep. This transition is controlled by chemicals pushing us between sleep and wakefulness.
We have our most life-like dreams during REM sleep and to prevent us from acting them out, the brain temporarily paralyses the body. Occasionally, we wake up while under the “spell” of REM paralysis. The timing and duration of sleep paralysis vary but three classic elements include sensing an evil presence (an intruder), feelings of suffocation (incubus), and an out-of-body experience.
According to some scientists when one can realize that he is paralyzed, the brain tells the body to move and carbon copies (cc) the message to the parietal lobes – a region that creates a sense of body image.
According to scientists, this results in strange bodily hallucinations. It may also affect your ability to distinguish between self and other, As the barrier between self and other dissolves, you mistake your projected body for a separate entity with agency and intentions.”
As per occult science, the reason behind sleep paralysis:
Sleep paralysis is terrifying because it cannot be explained away as merely a “bad dream” as it is experienced in wakefulness. Even after recurrent occurrences, the conviction of wakefulness cannot be denied.
Despite its prevalence, sleep paralysis remains a mystery with cultures across the world attributing it to paranormal activity, black magic, and mythical creatures.
Before the 15th century, a “nightmare” was synonymous with a spiritual attack believed to be orchestrated by a witch. The definition was later extended to “bad dreams”.
Henry Fuseli’s 1781 painting “The Nightmare” has been interpreted as the most “classical” pictorial representation of sleep paralysis for depicting a small creature sitting upon the chest of a sleeper.
Brazilian anthropologist Luís da Câmara Cascudo describes folklore character “Pisadeira” as a nightmare personified in an old man or woman who takes advantage of the sleeper. It would sit upon their stomach and pressure their thorax, disturbing one’s breathing,” he writes.
In Japanese traditions, “kanashibari” is a “state of being totally bound, as if constrained by metal chains” that manifests through the spell of a summoner who uses a vengeful spirit to suffocate their enemies. In Thailand, “phi am” is a ghost that haunts people when half-asleep and unable to move while Chinese traditions define it as a type of “ghost oppression”.
A popular belief in Muslim folk traditions attributes the event to Djinns – malevolent spirit-like creatures.
Ibn Sina’s remedy
In Arabic literature, “al Jathoom” is a “kaboos” [an evil spirit] that descends upon a person’s chest at night.
But Ibn Sina [Avicenna], in his medical book “al Qanoon”, describes “Kabous” as a disease where a person feels something heavy pressing down upon them, squeezing and restricting their breathing when falling asleep. He linked to epilepsy, apoplexy, or mania.
Cultural explanations can have a big impact on how people experience sleep paralysis. Those who have striking supernatural beliefs about it tend to have it much more; they also have longer paralysis and greater fear.”
The Harvard fellow explains that once the episode is interpreted through the lens of fear, it leads to more anxiety and unwanted night-time awakenings. “This vicious cycle, ‘I call the panic-hallucination mode’, continues to feed into itself until sleep paralysis becomes chronic, prolonged and potentially traumatizing. It is an astonishing form of mind-body interaction.”
There is no known cause of sleep paralysis but scientists have linked it to hypertension, anxiety, and sleep disorders and stressed on sleep hygiene. And supernatural beliefs with bitter and scary experience of sleep paralysis forced our thought to strongly believe in ghosty act behind this problem.
According to a great scientist, “Meditation-Relaxation” therapy which entails: 1) Cognitive reappraisal — the sleeper carries on closing one’s eyes, avoids panicking and reaffirms the attack to be benign. (2) Emotional regulation: reminds oneself that that fear and worry will worsen and prolong it. (3) Inward focused-attention meditation and (4) Muscle relaxation: avoid controlling breathing and not force the body to move.
How is sleep paralysis diagnosed?
No medicals tests are required to diagnose sleep paralysis. Your doctor will ask you about your sleeping patterns and medical history. They may also ask you to keep a sleep diary, documenting your experience during sleep paralysis episodes. In some cases, your doctor may recommend you participate in an overnight sleep study to track your brain waves and breathing during sleep. This is usually only recommended if sleep paralysis is causing you to lose sleep.
How to treat sleep paralysis?
Symptoms of sleep paralysis typically resolve within a matter of minutes and don’t cause any lasting physical effects or trauma. However, the experience can be quite unsettling and frightening.
Can You Die from Sleep Paralysis? Although sleep paralysis can result in high levels of anxiety, it isn’t generally considered life-threatening. While more research is needed on the long-term effects, episodes usually only last between a few seconds and a few minutes.