Sleep paralysis: why you wake up in the middle of the night and can't move

Tea you wake up in the middle of the night, confusing, there is a figure standing in the corner of your room, you brain he begs extremities Let them move, but nothing happens. The anxiety increases Your eyes look up and down the room. Just when you are about to enter panic, you get incorporated and the person disappears.

You just experienced a sleep paralysis, one of the many 'parasomnias', which is the name that experts give to all kinds of strange things that occur during sleep. This transient incapacity arises from an interrupted sleep in the REM phase, one in which rapid eye movement occurs and in which dreams manifest themselves with greater intensity.

Approximately 7.6% of the world's population experiences an episode of these characteristics at some time in their life

It is a transitional period for voluntary movement at the beginning of sleep or upon waking. It lasts a little, just a few minutes, which pass slow since the one who suffers it cannot move or open their eyes and is loaded with terror. Many experts see stress and anxiety as one of the causes, as well as an altered sleep schedule. Often comes with a feeling of immobility and a feeling of suffocation.

What is sleep paralysis?

The good news is that It is absolutely normal. Even if it's scary. According to a study published in the 'Sleep Medical Review' in 2017, approximately 7.6% of the population worldwide experiences an episode of these characteristics throughout his life, with much higher rates among students and psychiatric patients, particularly those with posttraumatic or panic stress.

But when it happens outside of deep sleep, at the moment that you are falling asleep or waking up, it can be "detrimental to the construction of sleep," he explains to 'Today' Baland Jalal, an expert who investigates the phenomenon. This could lead to more sleep paralysis. While the mechanisms behind it remain confusing, Jalal notes that Stress and worry play an important role.

Even if you seem to see a person in your room or a ghost, don't worry, it could be a sleep paralysis

"The people that they have anxiety are more likely to wake up during REM ", highlights. If you have sleep paralysis, you probably also have anxiety, "he says." Anxiety feeds sleep paralysis, "he insists. People worry about experiencing the panic feelings of sleep paralysis, which makes it more likely that To happen again.

While the aforementioned percentage of the population will experience sleep paralysis at some time in their lives, it occurs at approximately 50% of people with narcolepsy, a sleep disorder that includes excessive daytime sleepiness, cataplexy, sleep paralysis and hallucinations, he explains Nathaniel Watson, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

People or ghosts in the room

Some people say that they feel that someone or something is trying to strangle them or that they see someone entering their room and cannot move or scream. It can also happen when the person is awake, and lasts from a few seconds to one or two minutes. It is associated with hypnagogic hallucinations, which occur when a person is falling asleep.

Some experts have suggested that the alleged extraterrestrial abductions are really intense episodes of this parasomnia

For most people, "It is not indicative of any type of disease"says Watson. Although the experience is terrifying, the episodes last only a few seconds or minutes at most. "These are called state transitions and sometimes they are not a clean break from one to another," he says.

Some, instead of seeing a people, may believe see a ghost in his room, Jalal recounts. Hallucinations vary by culture: the Chinese call it 'gui ya' or phantom pressure because they believe a ghost sits in people's chest. In Newfoundland (Canada) she is the 'old witch' because people see her and in Egypt they see geniuses (like the one in 'Aladdin'), who think they hunt and sometimes kill their victims.

These ghostly dreams too may involve snakes and spiders. Some experts have even suggested that alien abductions they are really only intense episodes of sleep paralysis. "When you live in a culture where you fear it, you are much more likely to have anxiety, sleep paralysis and experience it," Jalal notes.