You wake up in the middle of the night, sensing that you’re not alone in your room. When you open your eyes, a menacing creature is standing at the foot of your bed. It’s a scene out of your worst nightmare. You try to scream, but you can’t. You try to fight back, but you can’t. You’re so utterly helpless that you can’t even lift a finger. It’s only after you wake up, unharmed but shaken, that you realize it was a sleep paralysis demon.
The demon might take different shapes. For some, it’s an old hag. For others, it’s a ghost-like figure of a deceased relative or alien abductions. To understand why a sleep paralysis demon is haunting you at night, let’s take an in-depth look at sleep paralysis.
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What is Sleep Paralysis?
Sleep paralysis, also known as a parasomnia, is a condition where you experience a temporary inability to move or speak. It typically occurs during the stage when you’re waking up or falling asleep. It’s estimated that between 8% to 50% of the population experience sleep paralysis at least once in their lifetime.
Sleep paralysis essentially happens when you wake up during REM sleep, also known as the dreaming stage. Normally, when you’re asleep, your brain sends a message to the nervous system that relaxes your body and muscles to prevent you from acting out any dreams or nightmares while you’re asleep. As you wake up, the brain gives the signal to end the paralysis, and when you fall asleep, the paralysis starts.
However, sleep paralysis occurs when the brain and body aren’t in sync. This means that if your brain doesn’t give a signal to end the paralysis at the right time when you’re waking up, your mind will awaken while your body stays paralyzed.
People will feel like they’re awake during an episode because their mind is active, but their body remains immobile. Though it might feel like it lasts for a long time, a sleep paralysis episode typically only lasts for around a minute.
Sleep paralysis can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Disruption to your sleep schedule
- Sleep disorders
- Substance abuse
- Stress and anxiety
- Hereditary factors
Why Do You See a Sleep Paralysis Demon?
Despite how scared you might feel in the moment, it’s essential to remember that the sleep paralysis demon you’re seeing isn’t real. It’s a product of your vivid hallucinations.
Throughout history, many people have reported seeing a sleep paralysis demon during an episode, and it even has cultural variations. In Newfoundland, Canada, an old hag appears as a sleep paralysis demon and sits on the victim’s chest. The victim typically reports difficulty breathing and is unable to move because of the perceived threat on their chest.
According to Fijian folklore, a demon appears to eat the victim. Typically, the demon takes the form of a deceased relative who has some unfinished business.
In Brazil, the sleep paralysis demon is a tall, skinny, and old woman with long and dirty fingernails. She is believed to have red eyes, white hair, and greenish teeth, and she sits on the chest of anyone who sleeps with a full stomach. In many Eastern cultures, the perpetrator is a ghost or a figure lying on top of the victim and pressing down on their chest. These hallucinations occur because you’re partially conscious when you’re dreaming.
How to Stop Sleep Paralysis
Even though sleep paralysis demons aren’t real, frequent episodes can take a toll on your health. If you want to figure out how to prevent sleep paralysis once and for all, here are some tips.
● Make sleep a priority
When you’re sleep-deprived, you’re more likely to trigger a sleep paralysis episode and experience hallucinations. Getting the recommended 8 hours of sleep is not only beneficial for preventing future episodes, but it can also significantly improve the overall quality of your life.
To ensure you get a good night’s sleep, make sure your essentials are in place. If you suspect that you’re not able to sleep properly because your mattress is old and lumpy, invest in the best mattress. A memory foam mattress and a hybrid mattress are great choices because they’re designed to alleviate aches and pains, and they provide the perfect level of support and comfort.
By optimizing your bed for comfort and adopting healthy sleep hygiene habits, you’ll find that sleep comes easier than ever.
● Cut back on alcohol
Limiting your alcohol intake is a good idea, especially before bedtime, because it can disrupt your sleep. However, alcohol and other harmful substances not only harm the quality of your sleep but can also trigger a sleep paralysis episode. If you’re experiencing chronic episodes, consider avoiding alcohol altogether until the sleep paralysis subsides.
● Treat underlying conditions
Sleep paralysis may be associated with health conditions, such as stress, anxiety, narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome, and other sleep disorders. To identify the underlying cause of your sleep paralysis, consider speaking to a medical professional for treatment.
Though having a sleep paralysis episode and encountering disturbing hallucinations can be disruptive to a good night’s sleep, try to remember that it can be prevented if you adopt healthy habits. In case your episodes do persist for a long time, consult a medical professional.