Many people describe sleep paralysis dreams as a scary experience. Well, that’s not an exaggeration. Realizing that you are unable to move but at the same time can still see things vividly is somewhat scary. What happens during the onset is that the mind is conscious, but not to the point that you can control the muscles.
How does it happen?
Remember that the mind goes through several stages of sleep. As you fall into deeper sleep, the body is also becoming more relaxed and less responsive. And when you’ve slept very deep, you will no longer be sensitive to external stimuli. In sleep paralysis, it’s just the body that goes through relaxation.
The mind, on the other hand, is pretty much still alert. Well, at least it’s active enough to realize what’s happening at that particular time. This condition typically occurs when you’re about to wake up. Instead of gaining consciousness when the REM phase is done, the mind has achieved it first. As a result, your body is still in its relaxed state, but the mind is awake already.
This is not frightening especially when you can process the whole thing. Having this experience for the first time is indeed scary. But if it happens quite frequently and you can convince yourself of what’s happening, you will no longer feel scared.
Anyone can experience sleep paralysis. For some, it just happens over the course of a few weeks or months. Others have it more frequently. This condition is also common among narcoleptics, but not everyone with narcolepsy suffers from sleep paralysis. Other conditions like depression and anxiety also increase the likelihood of having it. Therefore, it’s necessary to seek treatment if you have a mood disorder.
How to prevent it
Maintaining a healthy sleep-wake cycle is useful for preventing sleep problems, this one included. You should get enough sleep every night. It’s also important to repeat the same routine each night. Besides, if you have mood disorder, regardless of its severity, you need to seek treatment because it could lead to sleep paralysis.
How to stop it
Sleep paralysis is not life-threatening and you should tell yourself that. No matter how scary it feels, you will eventually wake up and regain your consciousness. So whenever you realize that you’re experiencing sleep paralysis, don’t fear and don’t fight. Fighting back will only intensify your fear and even cause a panic attack. All the things you see with your vision are just hallucinations that don’t actually happen. Lastly, you can also try to blink or do a sudden body movement because it may help you snap out of the situation.