If you’ve ever experienced sleep paralysis, you already know how scary it can be. Imagine that you are peacefully sleeping and, suddenly, you wake up and feel your whole body immobile, you are not able to articulate any movement, or even ask for help or get up. This is what those people who have ever suffered from sleep paralysis experience or what is popularly, in some regions, known as “death’s rise”.

Today we are going to explain what exactly sleep paralysis is, why it happens and what to do if you want to avoid it. Pay close attention because we will give you all the details of this characteristic event.

What is sleep paralysis and why does it occur?

Those who have not lived the “rise of the dead” and have been told by someone they know, surely have thought it was a lie or it was just a horrible nightmare. The truth is that sleep paralysis is real and happens to many people , it is estimated that 40% of people will suffer this alteration at some point in their lives, so if it happens to you too, do not worry, today we are going to tell you the whole truth about this disorder.

An “incomplete awakening”, so we could refer to sleep paralysis , that is what really happens when someone wakes up between sleep and wakefulness, and cannot speak or move any part of their body. Fortunately, sleep paralysis never lasts more than two minutes, and it is normal to react after the first few seconds.

During sleep paralysis, auditory and visual hallucinations can be experienced , the person suffering from this parasomnia may experience movement around them or some presence while they are completely immobile .

But, all this has a scientific explanation. Most people who experience this parasomnia are subjected to quite high levels of stress, it may also be due to an isolated case related to severe sleep deprivation , for example, the guards of health personnel in hospitals, or be associated with diseases such as narcolepsy -a disease that makes it difficult to stay awake during the day, those who suffer from it frequently have different parasomnias or cataplexy pictures-, however, when sleep paralysis occurs, the person is cognitively awake but the voluntary muscles, except the eyes and the respiratory diaphragm, are paralyzed.

Sleep paralysis occurs when the person wakes up while the brain is still in REM sleep. In this stage, our body activates a mechanism known as muscular atony by which voluntary muscles are prevented from being activated while we are asleep, in order to avoid involuntary self-injury while we are dreaming.

It is a parasomnia that has no health risks. It is a transitory disorder in which the barrier of sleep and reality tends to blur, but once we manage to articulate some part of our body, everything returns to normal. This alteration has no side effects other than having a bad time while experiencing certain hallucinations, even more so if it is the first time. It is important to note that it is a brief disturbance state in which no muscle tissue necessary for vital functions is paralyzed.

Beyond legends and tales

In ancient times, as it was not known what sleep paralysis was , it was often thought that this parasomnia was the result of an evil entity or that the devil had possessed the person in question. There are a thousand and one legends around this parasomnia, from being considered irrefutable proof of the existence of ghosts and other beings from the afterlife, to the so-called Incubi, man-shaped demons that entered houses at night and had a ” carnal dealings “with the women who lived there, these beings sitting on the woman’s chest and immobilizing her.

In other cultures there were also legends around sleep paralysis, all of them directly related to the existence of a devil, for example, in Germany it was known as “Alpdruk”, whose translation is “goblin pressure”, in France as ” Cauchemar “(nightmare) and in Czechoslovakia as” Mueras “.

As we said, when this disorder is experienced, the barrier of the dream world with reality is blurred, because it is common to experience certain visions or pseudo-hallucinations, since the person who suffers from it knows that nothing he sees, hears or feels is real. One of the most frequent visions is usually that of a black flat figure or figure with a malevolent appearance, this is still nightmares anchored in the subconscious . We can also experience the sensation that someone is pulling us and dragging us or that we are rising from the mattress, this happens because the sense of touch is also paralyzed and we can experience this type of hallucinations. It has nothing to do with astral travel beliefs .

For this reason, it is normal, for example, that this disorder is called in a more gloomy way, in Mexico and other places in Latin America it is known as the “Rise of the dead” , in certain parts of Europe as “Witch Syndrome nocturnal “and in Brazil as the” Pisadeira “.

Tips to avoid sleep paralysis

To avoid this parasomnia it is enough to change some habits, it is essential to have a good hygiene of rest and, above all, to sleep a minimum of 8 hours . This disorder usually affects people who are going through a stage of stress such as, for example, students during exam time, professionals who have to do night shifts and see their sleep schedule modified, people who tend to get upset days before an event important, in short, stress and emotional state directly influences.

Those who experience sleep paralysis, too, claim that it usually occurs when they sleep on their back, so if you tend to suffer from this parasomnia, you should try sleeping on your side or stomach.

Some medications and drugs directly influence REM sleep , which could lead to sleep paralysis. It is important that you avoid the consumption of stimulating foods such as caffeine.

Elle Mcdonald

I am Elle Mcdonald Specializations in Psychology . Graduated in psychology from the University of Tennessee in 2000. Diploma of Advanced Studies in the Department of Personality, Evaluation and psychological treatments with excellent results.

First Level of Master in Clinical Psychology at the Center for Behavioral Therapists (recognized with a scientific-professional nature by the College of Psychologists)

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