Although people can open their eyes during sleep paralysis episodes, they are unable to make any sounds or move. This temporary state of paralysis is not harmful and should pass within a few minutes, but it is likely to generate a considerable level of anxiety, confusion and fear for the sufferer. Many people experience sleep paralysis once or twice in their lives, whereas as others may be affected by this more regularly. It can affect people of all ages, but is most common in teenagers and young adults. During the state of temporary paralysis, a person often experiences auditory and visual hallucinations, which can be scary but are not dangerous.
Sleep paralysis happens when the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep occurs while a person is awake. This means that you’re physically awake, but part of your brain is still immersed in sleep. During the REM phase of sleep, the brain stops the movement of most muscles in the body to prevent people from literally ‘acting out’ dreams and involuntarily injuring themselves, hence the apparent body paralysis.
Sleep paralysis is most commonly found in people who are struggling with their mental health, subjected to high levels of stress or are suffering from fatigue or jet lag. It also frequently occurs in people who reach phases of deep sleep too quickly (within the first two hours of sleep) and those who regularly sleep on their back.In most cases, incidences of sleep analysis are one-off and are highly unlikely to happen again. Getting sufficient rest usually prevents the problem from from from recurring. Sleep paralysis only seemingly appears regularly in patients with chronic mental health conditions, such as generalised anxiety (GAD), bipolar disorder, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Though sleep paralysis attacks often involve feelings of terror or anger, due to sinister hallucinations (the vision of a grotesque being who sits on the chest to prevent breathing is a frequently described scenario), sleep paralysis does not pose any threat to life. Once fully awake after an episode of sleep paralysis, it is advisable to get up and move, otherwise there is the possibility of experiencing another attack..
This cruel cerebral dysfunction has occurred since the dawn of time. It’s also likely to explain many of the ‘paranormal experiences’ that have been recorded throughout history - most of which occurred after sunset.