Sleep Paralysis

By, Dr. Kerris Dillon

I am not going to lie! I really like ghost and paranormal shows that utilize technology to hear voices “from the beyond” or that capture something solid moving on its own. What is it about this phenomenon that fascinates some, but frightens others? Is it because we can’t control it? Is it because it reminds us that life on this Earth is temporary? Is it because most of the phenomenon happens at night when it is dark and we can’t see?

For those of you that love ghost and paranormal phenomenon as much as I do, there is one potentially scary occurrence that can be scientifically laid to rest (no pun intended). This phenomenon is called sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis can be extremely scary for individuals that have not experienced it before and don’t know what it is. Imagine being asleep and then suddenly waking up and not being able to move your body. Individuals that have experienced this will state that it feels like their body is being pushed down into the bed and that there are dark or shadowy entities within the room. Believe it or not, this is completely normal.

Sleep paralysis can take place during a stage of sleep called rapid eye movement (REM). REM is when individuals dream and their body becomes immobilized so that they do not act out their dreams and harm themselves or others. This is a very important stage of sleep because body chemicals and neurotransmitters are being refilled in order to heal the person and prepare them for the next day.

Sometimes, individuals will awaken during REM sleep when the body is immobilized and will begin to panic because they cannot move their arms or legs. If a person believes that they are being held down by a force that they cannot see, it is safe to assume they will begin to believe that something negative is in the room with them. It is unknown if the brain is still partly in REM and if the individual is visualizing something that is not there, but was present during a dream.

Nevertheless, it is very important for the individual that has awoken in this state not to panic. If this happens to you, first tell yourself that you have awoken during REM sleep. Second, attempt to get back to sleep because this is the easiest way to move out of REM and into another stage of sleep. Third, if you have attempted to go back to sleep, but could not…it is okay. You might feel a little out-of-sorts for an hour or two, but please know that your body and brain will catch up to being awake. Your body may feel numb or tingly, but it should go back to normal within 60-120 minutes. If it does not, please seek a doctor as you may be experiencing a medical problem.

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