Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sleep paralysis.

Does anyone else get this? I have scary little half-sleep episodes like this about once a week.

"You wake up, but you can’t move a muscle. Lying in bed, you’re totally conscious, and you realize that strange things are happening. There’s a crushing weight on your chest that’s humanoid. And it’s evil.

You’ve awakened into the dream world.

This is not the conceit for a new horror movie starring a ragged middle-aged Freddie Prinze Jr., it’s a standard description of the experience of a real medical condition: sleep paralysis. It’s a strange phenomenon that seems to happen to about half the population at least once.

People who experience it find themselves awake in the dream world for anywhere from a few seconds to 10 minutes, often experiencing hallucinations with dark undertones. Cultures from everywhere from Newfoundland to the Caribbean to Japan have come up with spiritual explanations for the phenomenon. Now, a new article in The Psychologist suggests sleep researchers are finally figuring out the neurological basis of the condition.

“This research strongly suggests that sleep paralysis is related to REM sleep, and in particular REM sleep that occurs at sleep onset,” write researchers Julia Santomauro and Christopher C. French of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit, Goldsmiths, at the University of London. “Shift work, jet lag, irregular sleep habits, overtiredness and sleep deprivation are all considered to be predisposing factors to sleep paralysis; this may be because such events disrupt the sleep–wake cycle, which can then cause [sleep-onset REM periods].”

In other words, you experience just a piece of REM sleep.

As David McCarty, a sleep researcher at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center’s Sleep Medicine Program, explained it, humans tend to think about the elements of the different stages of sleep as packaged nicely together. So, in REM sleep, you’re unconscious, experiencing a variety of sensory experiences, and almost all of your muscles are paralyzed (that’s called atonia).

“But in reality you can disassociate those elements,” McCarty said."


Full article here.

9 comments:

Dylan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Warren said...

Ahhhh it's actually incredibly horrifying.

Dylan said...

The part I want to experience is the consciousness while sleeping, not the terror. I just mistook this for a form of lucid dream, which this isn't. After reading the full article, I definitely don't want to experience sleep paralysis .

alison said...

That used to happen to me in high school! It would freak me out but only happened once in a blue moon so I never thought to look into it. I'm glad I can actually give it name now.

Dale said...

we call them stiffy's, and they usually occur at weird non sleeping times of the day.
pure evil feeling. I remember being terrified and paralyzed while I was conscious enough to watch the clock ticking.
haven't had one in a few years.

Warren said...

Scary stuff. It feels like you're dying and like there's nothing you can do to stop it.

Kimfrank said...

Hello Warren.
Hellah Yes, is my answer. Every other day or something now, recently, sort of things. Mine are of juicy lengths, and even twice in one sleep/wake sort of thing. I'm booking myself into a sleep clinic later on...but then, they may scould me...because...I only sleep when I want to. If I'm tired, I push forth. You know. And since I've been having this sleep paralysis (AND I ALSO GET CONSCIOUS DREAMING)... I'm half-scared to go to sleep, rather not you see, due to the fact that, this all is PROBABLY going to happen, so it's just like...fuck it.

Staying awake, Kim.

Oliver said...

Its that damn Old Hag

Ben said...

I use to get this a lot, not so much anymore. Its such a scary feeling when it happens.