Sleep paralysis is a phenomenon experienced by many people. This phenomenon has been a topic of numerous studies and scientists have explained what actually happens.
Have you ever woken up in the middle of night paralyzed? Do you ever feel an evil presence by your bed or have you experienced “hallucinations” that you are being attacked while you are asleep? Well, you are not the only one – the terrifying disorder affects millions of people worldwide.
In medical terms, sleep paralysis refers to a brief period at sleep onset, or off-set, during which a person is unable to move or speak while remaining awake and aware of the immediate environment.
In lay man’s terms, sleep paralysis is a condition in which a person awakens from sleep but is temporarily paralyzed. Sleep paralysis may last from several seconds to several minutes or even longer, and it usually occurs just upon awakening or right upon falling asleep.
What causes sleep paralysis? What happens during sleep paralysis? Why does sleep paralysis accompany the strangest sensations? Is sleep paralysis a spiritual phenomenon or a neurological condition? Can a demon attack you in your sleep and cause sleep paralysis? Stephanie Pappas, Live Science Contributor, explains:
“During the most dream-filled phase of sleep, our muscles become paralyzed, preventing the body from acting out what’s going on in the brain. The brain chemicals kick into action during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, a phase that usually begins about 90 minutes into a night’s rest.
During REM, the brain is very active, and dreams are at their most intense. But the voluntary muscles of the body — arms, legs, fingers, anything that is under conscious control — are paralyzed.
“This paralysis keeps people still even as their brains are acting out fantastical scenarios; it’s also the reason people sometimes experience sleep paralysis or the experience of waking up while the muscles are still frozen. This sensation has been the basis for myths such as the succubus and the incubus, demons said to pin people down in their sleep, usually to have sex with them.”