Friday, November 7, 2014

Sleep Paralysis!

No not a scientific account, but just to create awareness to save electricity around the world! The intention and the topic does not make sense?!? Keep reading
@Experienced Certified 

After moving to my boarding - being alone in a room, I once a terrible experience! I must be sometime past midnight I suddenly woke up to see two intruders (silhouettes) in my room and one of them (a man) was seated at my table and speaking to me. I could not figure out if the other was a man or woman, who stood at the foot of my bed, probably looking or staring!

Image Source: Viva La Ghash

I could not move my limbs an inch but could close my eyes! (As you can predict) I closed my eyes and waited for something to happen! I was more focused in reciting the Shahadah (Why would they be in my room if not to kill me?). It was not for long, I felt the air around me free, something off me, and was able to gasp and gain control of my limbs again. I sprang out of the bed - A Do or Die mission; switched on the lights and the lights are on ever since then!

I told myself repetitively it was just a nightmare and it will never happen again. (I was not really bothered to search what was that incident all about) Recently in a forum, readers shared their worst nightmares and I was prompted to do too. It was after a comment from a fellow reader who told it was not a nightmare but a 'sleep paralysis' that I have experienced, I was inquisitive to know more about it.

Sleep paralysis is a phenomenon that naturally occurs when a  person is falling asleep or waking up, where the person experiences a temporary inability to move, speak or react. This transitional state between sleep and wakefulness is signified by complete muscle atonia (muscle weakness) and often accompanied by terrifying hallucinations (intruder in room) and physical experiences (strong current through upper body). 

It is classified under two major categories Isolated Sleep Paralysis (ISP) and Recurrent Isolated Sleep Paralysis (RISP). Episodes of ISP are infrequent and maybe experienced only once in a life time; associated with intruder visitations, which last for a minute or longer. Episodes are RISP are significant rare cases where it lasts longer for an hour or more, with experiences of out of body perception. It can also be episodes of RISP in the same night.

It is a natural occurrence the REM sleep (Resting eye movement). If the sleep paralysis occurs when a person is falling asleep, the person remains aware while the body shuts down for REM sleep- hypnagogic; if the session occurs when a person is waking up, the person becomes aware before the REM cycle is completed - hypnopompic. These episodes last one a few seconds to minutes longer, whereas during longer episodes the individual may also experience panic attacks. Scientists refer the hypnagogic and hypnopompic visions as the explanation for alien abductions and ghost encounters.

A hypothesis that explains the sleep paralysis is the activation of the emergency response of human brain. Individuals who experience sleep paralysis wake up with terror stricken witnessing the menacing presence in the room- intruder; being paralysed makes them more vulnerable to be attacked, activating the brain. The incapacitate state augments the level of threat experienced by the individual making it more significant than a typical dream. Further theories for perceiving the intruder as evil is explained by the biased perception of the threat vigilance system to account ambivalent stimuli as dangerous.

Albeit theories state sleep paralysis occurs due to the disruption of REM sleep, it is also associated with disorders such as narcolepsy, migraines, anxiety disorders and obstructive sleep apnea. It can also occur due to isolation. (It is formidable, I agree!)

Having explained the appalling experiences of sleep paralysis, I believe many of us have finally known who that blood-curdling intruder at the foot of our bed was! There is practically no reason for having your lights on, save electricity, learn the reason for your episode of sleep  paralysis and seek medical assistance if it is recurring.