A photographer was the talk of the internet recently because his horrifying nightmares and sleep paralysis came to life by taking photos of them. Nicolas Bruno depicted sleep paralysis in a spectacular and haunting manner that might be scared of sleeping again. Sleep paralysis is a condition that is not uncommon to us. You might have experienced it too.
By definition, sleep paralysis is the condition you feel when you lose muscle function while asleep. This can happen as a person is falling asleep, shortly after falling asleep, or in the middle of waking up. It can happen more if a person is suffering from a sleeping disorder called narcolepsy. However, this can also occur in normal individuals.
What’s scary about sleep paralysis is not being able to move anything. Some people feel that something is sitting on their chest for a short period. On the other hand, some people are scared when experiencing this condition because they are experiencing hallucinations, just like the case of Bruno.
Some people believe that demons cause this sleeping problem. In the Philippines, there is even a demon in Ilocano folklore called Batibat. This demon attacks by suffocating people and invading their dreams, this causes sleep paralysis and nightmares. Some also believe that eating heavy dinner meals or extra carbs can cause nightmares and sleep paralysis.
Do Demons Cause Sleep Paralysis?
No, demons do not cause sleep paralysis according to researchers. Experts say that sleep paralysis is caused by sleep deprivation and other sleep problems. On the other hand, other experts tell that it happens because of disturbed rapid eye movement cycles during sleep.
During the rapid eye movement or REM cycle, the brain paralyzes the muscles temporarily. People dream during the REM cycle of sleep. Your muscles are paralyzed so you would not act out on these dreams. But when sleep paralysis occurs, your body is half awake and half asleep so you feel conscious during this paralysis. This stage is frightening at all levels.
Why Do You See Sleep Demons at Night?
Sometimes, these creatures are faceless and some see aliens or even dead relatives. However you want to describe it, one thing is the same and it’s that these illusions are nothing but hallucinations. Besides their looks, the more frightening part is when you’re unable to scream or move your body when you see this creature.
The reason why you have these illusions is because of hypnagogic hallucinations. Experts have no exact reasons why they happen but one thing is for sure, you should not worry about these “demons” as they won’t do anything to hurt you. These are nothing but illusions but rest assured that your muscles will return to normal after a few minutes.
What Causes this Sleeping Disorder?
There are several causes of sleep paralysis, one of these is poor sleep hygiene. People who don’t have a proper routine before sleeping have a higher chance of experiencing sleeping disorders. This is because a proper routine is needed for better sleep so your body won’t be awake the time it’s in its REM cycle.
Disruption in your sleep schedule can also be the culprit for this condition. If you are working night shifts, you might experience it due to the noises in your environment. Being jet-lagged can also be a reason for this sleeping disorder. On the other hand, some mental health issues.
People with major depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, bipolar, anxiety, and narcolepsy might experience sleep paralysis among other symptoms. If you have these conditions, sleep paralysis is should be the least of your worries. Medications prescribed by experts are one of the best ways to treat conditions besides therapy.
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How Do you Diagnose Sleep Paralysis?
Paralysis during sleep is not diagnosed as it is not a disease but a symptom of an underlying illness. What your doctor will do is ask you about your medical history, sleep patterns, and bedtime routines. They might also tell you to document your sleep patterns using a journal. If you have the money, you can get your brain waves and breathing checked in a comprehensive sleep study.
How to Prevent Sleeping Paralysis?
Sleep paralysis cannot affect most people and has no physical toll on the body. However, this should be a thing to be concerned about if it affects your sleep. If you think that you have narcolepsy or other diseases that are undiagnosed, you should consult your doctor and ask for medication. However, there are ways to prevent sleep paralysis.
The first step you should do is have a bedtime routine of brushing your teeth, doing skincare, and making sure that your sheets and pillow are clean. That way, you won’t have a disturbance when it comes to sleep. Getting sufficient rest before bedtime can also give you better sleep.
Some people experience this because of the meds they take. The best way to avoid these is to know the possible alternatives to a certain medicine without this side effect. However, one of the most effective ways of preventing sleep paralysis is resting on your side instead of your back.
In other cases, sleep paralysis is caused by trauma. People who have been in stressful situations do not only have sleeping disorders. They might experience nightmares as well and if this happens, trauma counseling can help fight these thoughts. Yoga and breathing exercises can work too in some people.
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What to do When it Happens to You?
If you can feel that you’re having sleep paralysis. You should remain calm as it will only last for a few minutes. You should also take note that no one dies from sleep paralysis. If you’re thinking of drinking alcohol to sleep quicker, you should not. Alcohol makes your sleep worse and won’t make you reach your REM stage during sleep cycles.
You want to be undisturbed during the REM cycle not only because of sleep paralysis. The body repairs itself only during this period so you should prioritize sleep. As scary as it sounds, it is nothing more than temporary disablement of the muscles when you half asleep and half awake.
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