Sleep paralysis, what is it? If you have ever wanted to know more Marcie Cheers has you covered with all the facts about sleep paralysis.
I open my eyes slowly and wearily, completely aware that my body is frozen and I am unable to move, yell or speak in any way… I am completely paralysed. As I lay frozen in my bed, a hooded black figure moves over to me from behind my door, and I am completely terrified… I am in a state of sleep paralysis and there is nothing I can do but lay there defenceless.
My sleep paralysis only started a few years ago and has happened to me very randomly throughout the years. But I, like so many other people until now, am still confused as to why it occurs and exactly what it is.
What is sleep paralysis?
According to HealthDirect, sleep paralysis is a state where your mind is awake but your body is still asleep, leaving the sufferer paralysed and unable to move. During this state, you may be unable to detect that you are in a state of paralysis until you have actually woken up. Those who have experienced sleep paralysis may see anything from people in the room watching you sleep, to ‘demon-like’ figures holding you down, to creatures crawling around the room. If you have never experienced sleep paralysis and wish to know what it is like, this scene from The Haunting of Hill House, accurately describes this horrible feeling (warning this is super scary and confronting, if you are triggered by sleep paralysis or scared easily, we recommend not opening the above link).
Strangely enough, some people who have experienced sleep paralysis, have described seeing the same ‘figures’ standing at their bed. For example, the night hag is said to be a creature described by many sufferers of sleep paralysis that sits at the end of one’s bed, suffocating the sleeper and filling their heads with bad dreams and scary thoughts.
What causes sleep paralysis?
According to The Sleep Doctor, research suggests that the following factors can increase the risk of sleep paralysis;
Interestingly enough, studies have found that young people in their teens and early twenties are more likely to experience sleep paralysis.
What can I do to stop it happening?
I am definitely no expert on stopping sleep paralysis from occurring, but over the years, I have found some helpful tips to calm myself down before sleep.
1. Don’t drink coffee before you sleep – not only does this make you feel extra hyped, it also makes it harder for your brain to slow down and relax.
2. Exercise during the day – get all your energy out so when it comes to night time, you feel tired and can wind down easier.
3. Get off your phone 10 minutes before you decide to go to sleep – the bright lights on your phone make it harder for your brain to switch off, say goodnight to social media, it’ll be there in the morning.
4. Have a cup of tea/hot chocolate and listen to some calming music or ASMR – this really helps me if I have felt anxious during the day, taking some time to breathe and relax before going to bed is good for the soul.
If you do experience sleep paralysis, as frightening as it can be, just try to remain calm and understand that it is not real and nothing can hurt you. By understanding sleep paralysis, hopefully, it is easier to recognise that it is happening the next time it occurs.