Sleep paralysis is a feeling of being conscious, but unable to move. It occurs when a person passes between stages of wakefulness and sleep. – WebMD
Undoubtedly, there is nothing stranger that to wake up and not being able to move any part of the body, even though you are completely aware of everything around you. This condition is known as sleep paralysis, and is an extremely frightening phenomenon.
In this case, the individual is entirely conscious, but his/her body is absolutely paralysed. Since the person cannot control the body, he becomes really terrified and disturbed.
However, you should know that this phenomenon is common and does not lead to any physical damage to the body. Namely, it occurs during one of two stages -“hypnagogic” and “hypnopompic.”
The first one happens before falling asleep, while hypnopompic sleep paralysis occurs as soon as the person wakes from REM(rapid eye movement) sleep.
As soon as we fall asleep, our body gets relaxed and the mind becomes less aware. Yet, in the case of hypnagogic sleep paralysis, our mind remains aware while our body is in an involuntary relaxation state. Therefore, the individual realizes that although he tries hard, he cannot move, and this may often be extremely terrifying and may cause a panic attack.
On the other hand, during REM sleep, the muscles are paralyzed, but as soon as the individual experiences hypnopompic sleep paralysis, some part of his brain wakes. Yet, this does not mean that the part of the brain that controls the REM paralysis wakes as well. Therefore, one may be in an awaken state, but he cannot voluntary control his muscles.
Some people never experience this phenomenon, or some have gone through it once or twice in their life. However, there are others who experience it often, even several times during the week.
According to a study conducted at Penn State University, around 8 percent of the population frequently experiences sleep paralysis.
Moreover, people with mental disorders, like depression and anxiety, are more susceptible to frequent episodes of these issues, as well as people with an underlying sleep condition, those with sleep apnea, and individuals which take some specific medications.
WebMD revealed a list of the risk factors, as follows:
- Sleep problems like nighttime leg cramps or narcolepsy
- Lack of sleep
- Mental conditions, like bipolar disorder or stress
- Substance abuse
- Frequent changes in sleep schedule
- Certain medications, like the ones with ADHD
- Sleeping on the back