Something terrifying will happen to thousands of people tonight. They’ll go to bed, sleep peacefully, and then wake up and be completely unable to move. And as they’re lying there paralyzed, they’ll probably see some evil presence or intruder.
This sounds scary, but it’s a documented phenomena call sleep paralysis.
What is the prevalence of sleep paralysis?
Sleep paralysis is estimated to have affected 11-40% of people in their lifetimes at least once. This only means that these 11-40% of people have experienced it once, but this says nothing about the frequency of sleep paralysis in the people that experience. Unfortunately there is not much information about the frequency of sleep paralysis.
What is sleep paralysis like?
Sleep paralysis is defined as the inability to move after awakening. You mind is awake, but the body will not move. 75% of the episodes are associated with hallucinations, like seeing an evil presence, intruder, or even some sort of demon sitting on your chest, or out of body experiences. 90% of sleep paralysis episodes are associated with fear.
Why does sleep paralysis happen?
REM sleep is where you have the most vivid and bizarre dreams. And before we wake up, our last REM phase might last up to an hour. The thing is that the body is completely paralyzed during REM sleep, presumably so we don’t act out our dreams. Sleep paralysis occurs because part of the brain is awake and part is still asleep.
How can you prevent sleep paralysis?
The best thing you can to do prevent sleep paralysis is to simply get good, consistent sleep because it has been associated with sleep deprivation and irregular sleep schedules. It is most commonly reported when people sleep on their backs, so sleeping in another posture theoretically would reduce the risk. However, there isn’t a lot of information of preventing sleep paralysis, so these are educated guesses.
It’s also been reported to be associated with lucid dreaming, or being aware that you are dreaming within in a dream. So If you’re trying to lucid dream, be aware that this increases your risk of sleep paralysis.
The information in this post comes from a recent review on sleep paralysis and a recent article on nightmare disorder and sleep paralysis.