These will keep you up at night.
In a recent episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Kendall Jenner talks about her anxiety – specifically her trouble with sleep paralysis. For someone who’s never experienced it, it probably seems kind of strange. For someone who’s experienced a couple of times, you have a good idea of how awful it can be. And, for those of us who experience it regularly – like me – you know that it can be downright terrifying. Here are some things you should know about sleep paralysis.
1. It feels like you ‘woke up dead’. The sensation of sleep paralysis is so scary because your mind is completely awake but your body isn’t. You can hear your boyfriend snoring next to you, and the birds starting to chirp outside – but you can’t move. You’re trapped inside your own body, and you can’t even scream.
2. It’s caused by something called ‘atonia’. Atonia happens when you enter deep REM sleep. It’s basically your brain telling your body’s voluntary muscles to relax and go into a state of paralysis. The reason your body does this is to prevent you from acting out the physical movements in your dreams. So, during sleep paralysis, your body stays paralysed while your brain awakens and your eyes start to open.
3. It can often be accompanied by a sense of chest pressure. This is the worst, because it feels like you can’t get enough air. Although breathing shouldn’t really be affected, many people awake from sleep paralysis gasping for air. Just try to imagine being awake, but unable to move and breathe. Not ideal in the least, is it?
4. Sleep paralysis can involve scary AF hallucinations. As if this whole thing isn’t shitty enough already, sleep paralysis is sometimes paired with creepy visions of the supernatural (thankfully I’ve never experienced this before). What makes this extra terrifying is that, unlike the visuals in nightmares, these hallucinations occur when you’re in the state between sleeping and waking up. That means your mind is alert and your eyes are open.
5. It’s extremely anxiety inducing. Obviously, you totally freak out when you can’t move. It often triggers a panicked response and increased heart rate, so even if you aren’t hallucinating aliens, you still feel seriously scared.
6. Episodes can last anywhere from 20 seconds to a few minutes. There’s no real way to pull yourself through except for waiting it out and trying to convince your brain, ‘Hey, uh, I’m awake. You can stop this now, thanks.’
7. Some people can move their toes, fingers or facial muscles. It can help to wake up the rest of your body. When I’m in a state of sleep paralysis, for example, I can often move just my pinkie – which, you know, doesn’t help very much at all.
8. There’s no definitive cause. Even though the condition is more prevalent in young adults, psychiatric patients and people who aren’t getting enough sleep, nobody really knows why sleep paralysis is a thing. Because there’s no clear, definite cause, it’s an extremely frustrating thing to have to deal with.
From Cosmo ZA
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