To understand the phenomenon of sleep paralysis, it is necessary to get acquainted with the concept of “rapid eye movement” or “REM” sleep. If you have looked at a person in deep sleep, you have probably noticed that the pupils behind the eyelids are constantly moving, as if the person is following something fast moving with his eyes. This rapid eye movement is because the person is dreaming.
If we divide our life into two stages of sleep and wakefulness, the sleep stage itself is divided into REM and non-REM parts, which alternate between each other. The non-REM stage starts from the very beginning and occupies about 75% of the sleep time. The next stage is REM, each period of which lasts about 10 to 20 seconds, and the entire two-stage sleep cycle is about 90 minutes.
Another important thing to know about REM sleep is that during this stage, the body is in deep sleep and is almost completely paralyzed, leaving only the heart, diaphragm, eye muscles, intestinal muscles, and blood vessels active. And of course, brain activity reaches the time of waking up and most dreams happen at this stage.
Sleep paralysis can be a type Glitch And the technical defect of the brain between REM and wakefulness. Since we are having realistic dreams during REM, such as running or even flying, the brain temporarily paralyzes the whole body so that we don’t want to do what we see.
In fact, the brain has a key (we mean a set of neurochemicals) that we press to switch between sleep and wakefulness. But sometimes it happens that the brain presses this key at the wrong time; That is, when the body is still locked, it wakes us up and gets us stuck in the limbo of wakefulness and REM sleep.
When we are in sleep paralysis, realistic REM dreams flood into our consciousness and come alive before our eyes. That’s why the evil creatures we see in this mode seem very real.
What is the cause of bad luck?
We know exactly what happens to the body when experiencing sleep paralysis; The brain presses the wake-up key prematurely and we open our eyes when our whole body is still paralyzed; Because the REM sleep stage is not over yet. But we do not know exactly what causes this technical defect in the brain and how we can prevent it from happening.
However, researchers believe that several factors may play a role in the occurrence of sleep paralysis. Some researchers say that sleeping on the back increases the possibility of sleep paralysis; If you have experienced this phenomenon, it has probably happened many times that you have realized that you were sleeping on your back when you woke up. Of course, no one knows what is the relationship between sleep paralysis and sleeping on the back, and even some researchers say that the two have nothing to do with each other.
Disturbing the sleep routine and not having enough sleep can also increase the incidence of sleep paralysis. For example, if you always go to sleep at a certain time of the night and then this time changes for any reason, you may suffer from sleep paralysis.
Researchers believe that there is a close relationship between sleep paralysis and mental health. Some associate sleep paralysis with disorders such as narcolepsy, which is associated with symptoms such as excessive daytime sleepiness and sudden falling asleep. People with obstructive sleep apnea, who experience shortness of breath during sleep, and people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are more prone to sleep paralysis than other people.
But perhaps the most interesting thing that has been discovered about sleep paralysis is that it is apparently more common among people and cultures who believe in the connection of sleep paralysis with luck and evil creatures and supernatural events; It seems that the anxiety of having sleep paralysis causes it to happen. For example, in a study whose results are on the site Scientific American published, Egyptians and Italians, who have deep-rooted beliefs about sleep and attribute supernatural causes to sleep paralysis, are more likely to suffer from sleep paralysis than Danes.
This study concluded that for this group of people, sleep is not just an escape from reality; Rather, it may lead to experiencing a very frightening situation and even a kind of mental disorder.
Why is sleep paralysis associated with frightening hallucinations?
After dedicating more than a decade of their lives to researching sleep paralysis, Harvard University researchers have finally a theory They found that it explains the reason for the frightening and sometimes similar hallucinations associated with this phenomenon.
Of course, no matter how real these evil creatures seem, they are not real; But what if these hallucinations have almost the same appearance for different people all over the world and why most of the time we feel that these evil beings want to take over our body or stop us from breathing?