Sleep Paralysis: The Causes and Effects
Deep in the night as you try to roll over, you realize that you cannot move. As you feel completely paralyzed, you find it impossible to cry for help as you see characters lurking around and standing over you. You suddenly feel electrical sensations shooting throughout your body and you hear deafening buzzing sounds. This phenomenon is recognized as sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis is a state in which a person may feel like they are conscious but is incapable of moving. This happens when a person passes between stages of consciousness and sleep. During this time, the person may feel unable to move or speak for a few seconds or sometimes even up to a few minutes. Sleep paralysis can also be referred to as isolated sleep paralysis or familial sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis causes people to sleep into a disturbed mental state which consists of periods of inabilities to perform normal movements not because of a mental disease, but because of stress, anxiety, and sleep deprivation.
A person that experiences sleep paralysis may wake up and find himself unable to move, speak, and sometimes even breathe as if he is frozen (Takahashi). The person may also hear footsteps or see ghosts- the victim often sees indistinct shapes approaching them and immediately becomes terrified; in many cases, the individual experiencing sleep paralysis may feel an oppressive weight on the chest and body and a sense of suffocation (Adler). Sleep paralysis poses as a major source of distress for countless people all over the world (Hufford). Although many people only experience sleep paralysis with symptoms that make them unable to move, there have been several cases in which sleep paralysis has had deeper symptoms.
Dreams occur during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. During REM sleep, changes occur in the brain signaling which cause reduced muscle tones in the body's muscles, and this is considered one of the normal functions of REM sleep. Sleep paralysis is more common in individuals that have sleeping disorders, people that may have inconsistent, those who experience great amounts of stress or anxiety, and those who are sleep deprived (Danoff). When a person is stressed, the individual may have awareness as the body enters or exits REM sleep which causes disruptions. The result is sleep paralysis. Just as a person would experience hallucinations when being extremely tired, sleep deprivation causes an individual to experience hallucinations during sleep (Stanford).
People who experience sleep paralysis tend to feel terror. Many people who have reported to sleep paralysis claim that they had encountered alien abductions. Scholars and researchers have assessed and interviewed ten people who had mentioned sleep paralysis episodes that were accompanied by "hypnopompic" hallucinations. The abductees were recruited through newspaper advertisements that sought out people who believed that they had been abducted by aliens in the past. Sleep...