Sleep paralysis is a trick our mind plays on us which causes a state of complete muscle weakness where people are paralyzed at the onset of sleep or upon waking. Your mind is mentally awake, but you are physically asleep and paralyzed. It is a disorienting condition that can also cause terrifying hallucinations.
The effects of sleep paralysis are often associated with other symptoms such a sense of suffocation, decreased heart rate, or the presence of an evil person in the room.
While all of these symptoms sound terrifying, sleep paralysis is not dangerous and is an ordinary human condition. It’s a protection mechanism which prevents us from acting out our dreams as we sleep.
It’s important to learn to recognize the symptoms of sleep paralysis. It affects people in many different ways but some commonalities that people experience include:
- An inability to move your limbs at the beginning of sleep or upon waking
- Brief episodes of partial or complete skeletal paralysis
- Visual and auditory hallucinations (people often sense an evil presence, feel a phantom touch, or hear an unidentifiable noise in the room)
- A sense of breathlessness or chest pressure
If you feel that you are experiencing sleep paralysis, try focusing on body movement. You may find that you are able to move a part of your body to force yourself to a fully waking state. Focusing on and controlling your breathing can be an excellent relaxation technique and learning some breathing techniques in advance may help you regain control during a sleep paralysis episode.