Sleep Paralysis Definition - What Is Sleep Paralysis ?

What is sleep paralysis?

Sleep paralysis or slaapparalyse is a sleep disorder. Characteristic of sleep paralysis is that the muscles in the body just before falling asleep or just after waking up paralyzed. The paralysis may be accompanied by hallucinations (called hypnagogic perception disorders).

The phenomenon is relatively unknown and is still only recent scientific studies. For this reason, there is no certainty about the cause of this phenomenon. It is believed that sleep paralysis is a symptom of narcolepsy, but that's not certain. Even people who do not suffer from narcolepsy can namely suffer from sleep paralysis.

Paralysis of the muscles normally occurs during REM sleep. Only the eye muscles, the lungs and the heart are still active. This paralysis occurs in order to prevent movements in dreams really be implemented. With sleep paralysis is the person, as it were between dream and waking state in which he can not move. This can be very frightening for the person in question.


Sleep paralysis is closely associated with REM sleep, the sleep phase in which dreams occur. This occurred during the paralysis sometimes hallucinations. The phenomenon is also associated with sleep disorders (such as sleep apnea and narcolepsy), or physical and mental exhaustion. A distinction is made between hypnagogic hallucinations and hypnopompische, respectively, just before falling asleep and just after waking. This phenomenon can often seem very realistic and is accompanied by an extreme fear. It may be visual, auditory, tactile and emotional sensations. Examples of hallucinations that are relatively frequently:

  • It can fully not move. Only the eyes can be moved. Even the rate of breathing is not under control
  • The sensation of a mostly invisible, often evil "presence" in the room
  • The feeling hardly breathe
  • A pressure / weight on the chest
  • As a result of panic may occur uncontrollable feelings of anxiety. By being aware / of the situation (one knows what is happening if it is not the first time) you can reduce the anxiety / panic to zero. This is a faster "awakening" as possible.
  • Falling be lifted up, roll over without this actually happening
  • Footsteps
  • Vote
  • Palpitations
  • Buzzing, ringing, noise, screams ... sometimes with a sensation of tingling or vibration through the body
  • Erection
  • Sense of touch
  • A feeling of pain in the head
  • Possibly stabbing pains in the back, legs, arms
  • Joint pains
  • Detect the presence of a person (often a black shadow, but can also be a detailed being)
  • The opening of doors and the like
  • Observe objects from the dream
  • Seeing light symptoms that the person is not able to know whether it is day or night

Drug treatment

It is assumed that the antipsychotic Risperidone (Risperdal®) is effective in fighting sleep paralysis, probably due to its anti-hallucinatory effect. This is a drug that is normally used for schizophrenia. It may have effect on sleep paralysis hallucinations if frequent occurrence. There are also indications that other psychotropic drugs can be effective, although the downside is that they can affect the sleep / wake cycle.

Self Treatment

In order to reduce the length of a sleep paralysis period, one can still try to move arms or legs. This is possible if we avoid anxiety or panic feeling to know (see "emotional"). Concentration to want to move only one arm or leg to achieve a powerful leads directly from the crippling condition. In order to prevent people from falling back into a sleep paralysis, is advised to stay awake a little while before going to sleep again and to assume a different position in the bed (for example, by going into the side are situated in place of the back)

 Characteristic of sleep paralysis is that the muscles in the body just before falling asl Sleep Paralysis Definition - What Is Sleep Paralysis ?

Sleep paralysis as an explanation for paranormal experiences

The hallucinations during sleep paralysis can occur, often very realistic about it. People who have no knowledge about this sleep disorder may think they have had a paranormal experience. For that reason, sleep paralysis could be an explanation for various paranormal phenomena, such as resignations and the so-called "alien abductions" in America. In a resignation is a likely scientific explanation a fault in the alignment of the brain activity and muscle tension. The fault causes the muscle tension increase is deployed too late: it has woken up from a shallow sleep, so the brain activity is already high, but the muscle tension yet. The interpretation of these results to different physical sensations in the faith from the body.

The Incubus
One particular hallucination is remarkably often the feeling that there is a demonic being on the chest is the person trying to suffocate. This is also called the "Old-Hag syndrome". Possibly the legend of the Incubus resulted from hallucinations during sleep paralysis. The incubus was a male demon that night sat on the chest of women, often in order to rape them. The female version of the incubus is the Succubus. One can find the legend of the Incubus back in different cultures. There are people who say they have seen the demon and describe him as a great evil black spirit.

At a retirement or "out-of-body experience" has the feeling that the spirit temporarily leaves the body. It usually hovers above the bed and looks down at the body, still lying on the bed. This is often seen as a paranormal phenomenon. Hypnagogic hallucinations and hypnopompische may be a scientific explanation for this phenomenon. This is primarily an explanation of the unconscious "out-of-body experiences", which can happen to anyone in this way.

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