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  • Hey There! Welcome To Life Noggin!

  • Imagine waking up in the middle of the night, being fully conscious, then realizing you can't move a muscle.

  • Your chest tightens and it gets hard to breathe.

  • You start hallucinating and a dark figure begins moving towards you.

  • You try to scream for help, but you can't.

  • Are you dying?

  • Are you dreaming?

  • Then, all of a sudden, you can move again.

  • That terrifying apparition is gone and you can breathe normally.

  • Believe it or not, experiences like this are fairly common.

  • This is a medical condition called sleep paralysis and about 8% of the population has experienced some variation of it in their lives.

  • While this can be absolutely terrifying, scientists say it isn't dangerous. Phew.

  • People used to think that this paralysis was caused by supernatural beings like demons holding people down while they sleep.

  • Since hallucinations are fairly common with this condition, it's understandable that

  • that people would think the thing they saw was what was stopping them from moving,

  • but there's actually a very scientific, not-so-supernatural explanation for why some people wake up and can't move.

  • When we sleep, we experience cycles of REM sleep and non-REM sleep.

  • Rapid eye movement sleep is when your eyes move quickly from one side to the other.

  • This is the time of night when parts of your brain like the thalamus and the amygdala are most active.

  • Usually, people wake up when their brains are in the non-REM phase, but sometimes you wake up when you're still in REM sleep.

  • This is what prompts sleep paralysis. During REM sleep, neurotransmitters like GABA and glycine

  • basically turn off your muscles to make sure you don't act out your dreams.

  • So if you wake up before a REM cycle is over, your muscles are still sleeping, so you can't move, even if you're fully awake.

  • Your chest muscles are turned off too, with the exception of your diaphragm.

  • That's why people experience shortness of breath or feel pressure on their chest.

  • When your brain is in REM mode, your dreams are the most vivid.

  • In sleep paralysis, your mind is still partially dreaming, leading to hallucinations that can feel super real.

  • People experience visual, sensory, and auditory hallucinations, but they disappear once the paralysis is over - usually after a couple of minutes.

  • Sleep paralysis is thought to be caused by sleep deprivation, certain medications,

  • sleep disorders like sleep apnea and narcolepsy, stress, and altered sleep patterns, like working night shifts.

  • If you're between the ages of 10 and 25, you're more likely to experience it.

  • And people with mental disorders like PTSD, anxiety, and depression are also at higher risk of having the condition.

  • But, while all this might sound really scary, researchers recently found that 20% of people who experience sleep paralysis on a regular basis actually find it pleasant!

  • Since it's not dangerous, they relax and just let it happen.

  • Scientists are also investigating whether there's a genetic link to this condition.

  • Twin studies have pointed towards yes, but there's still more research to be done.

  • Unfortunately, there's no cure for this, but doctors suggest regulating your sleep schedule and avoiding drugs and alcohol before bed.

  • Sleeping on your back also contributes to the problem, so maybe try a different position.

  • In serious cases, an antidepressant may be prescribed, but this condition isn't permanent or dangerous.

  • Curious to know why it's sometimes so difficult to fall asleep?

  • Check out this video!

  • well aside from worrying about that one thing you did in middle school several years ago.

  • It might have something to do with what you're eating.

  • Drinks and food with caffeine can cause sleep disturbances.

  • Especially when you have them close to bed time!

  • as always, my name is Blocko, this has been Life Noggin, Don't forget to keep on thinking!

Hey There! Welcome To Life Noggin!

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What Makes Sleep Paralysis So Terrifying?

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    Evangeline posted on 2021/02/20
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