Thesis Statement: Sleep paralysis is not demonic, but natural and it can occur to any person who does not have adequate and quality sleep. The condition is experienced during transition between falling asleep and waking up and is uncontrollable.
Sleep paralysis is one of the most astonishing sleep disorders in the world today. It normally occurs when an individual awakens from Rapid Eye Movement Sleep (REM), the phase in a person’s sleep when a dream occurs. When a person experiences sleep paralysis, he or she often falls into a consciousness state between being in a dip sleep or awake. This condition may also occur when a person is falling asleep (hypnagogic) or upon waking (hypnopompic) (Brian & Karl, 2010).
Many people have a misconception that sleep paralysis is unnatural and that it is only experienced by a certain segment of people. This belief is wrong because sleep paralysis is natural and any individual can experience it. According to Brian and Karl, any person is at a risk of waking up in sleep paralysis each time he or she goes to school. However, the difference arises because of the degree of severity of the consciousness among different individuals. In addition to that, this condition is highly individual and the experience varies from one individual to another (Brian & Karl, 2010).
Moreover, some people are of the idea that a person experiencing sleep paralysis can wake himself or herself up. For instance, some people are of the idea that people with this condition can wake up themselves up by wiggling their facial expressions, fingers or toes. However, this is untrue because “you can’t fool mother nature.” Precisely, there is no way a person experiencing this condition can pull himself or herself out of it. Such people have to wait until the state is out of them for them to stop experiencing the condition (Hurd, 2010).
Also, other people are of the idea that this condition only occurs when a person is in a deep sleep. However, the truth of the matter is that this condition is normally experienced during one of the two transitions during the sleep cycle. Fundamentally, for one to experience sleep paralysis, the person’s body must first go to Rapid Eye Movement Sleep (REM). The body must then come out of REM, and in most cases, if not all, the condition is experienced when a person’s body has problems making these transitions. However, the reason as to why an individual’s body can’t find smooth transition between the two phases is still unknown (Hurd, 2010).
In addition to that, some segments of the general population are of the idea that one cannot avoid this condition by having better and adequate sleep. Enough and better sleep is all about quantity and quality. However, this is a misconception because this condition is mostly experienced by people who lack adequate sleep. For instance, people with sleep apnea normally do not experience enough sleep because they are mostly woken up by breathing difficulties. Therefore, such people have poor quantity of sleep (Hufford, 2012).
Moreover, people who normally consume large amounts of alcohol often experience difficulties in entering the deep stage of sleep. The alcohol that they consume normally prevents them from getting the quality of sleep that is required. Therefore, a person suffering from sleep paralysis can contain the condition by getting enough sleep and avoiding things that are likely to compromise the quality of their sleep (Hufford, 2012).
Another major misconception about sleep paralysis is that it is experienced by people who are possessed. On top of that, some people believe that people who experience sleep paralysis are bewitched. Although there is no definitive cause of this condition yet, this is out rightly untrue. Stress and depression have been cited as the prime cause of sleep analysis. In addition to that, other factors such as stress, genes and medications have also been linked to this condition. However, most people, especially those experiencing the condition, have been frustrated for lack of a clear cause of this condition (Hartmann, 2014).
Moreover, some people are of the belief that sleep paralysis is just but a nightmare. However, numerous researches have shown that sleep paralysis is a bit more complicated when compared to a nightmare. Actually, sleep paralysis is the complete opposite of the night mare condition. When an individual’s body goes into deep REM, his or her brain normally dictates the voluntary muscles of the body to relax and go into a state of paralysis, known as atonia. Atonia is fundamental because it plays a vital role in preventing any movement that may injure an individual’s body (Hartmann, 2014).
However, in some parasomnias such as sleep walking and Rapid Eye Movement Sleep (REM) behavior disorder, atonia does not occur effectively and hence the voluntary muscles move while an individual’s mind is still asleep. This is the prime reason as to why some people can do extremely crazy things while in their sleep and become totally unaware about them when they wake up (Blackmon, 2011).
In conclusion, sleep paralysis is such a fascinating sleep disorder that can be experienced by any person who does not have adequate and quality sleep. It is not caused by demons but by lack of a smooth transition during one of the sleep cycle. Anyone can experience the condition at different times of sleep but it is the severity that varies from one individual to another. It is caused by factors such as stress, depression and genetic factors. However, this condition can be contained by getting enough sleep and avoiding things that are likely to compromise the quality of their sleep.
- Brian, A. & Karl, D. Sleep Paralysis: Historical, Psychological and Medical. (2010). New York, Garland Publishing Press
- Blackmon, S. Abduction by Aliens or Sleep Paralysis: A Guide to Hypnagogic Visions. (2010). Brooklyn, NY, Alliance Publishing
- Hartmann, E. The nightmare: the psychology and biology of terrifying dreams (2014). Norman, University of Oklahoma University Press
- Hufford, D. The terror that comes in the night: an experience-centered study of Supernatural assault traditions (2012). Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
- Hurd, R. Transforming Sleep Paralysis into a Healing Gift: A Guide to Sleeping Disorders (2010). Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.