11. Are You Sleep Deprived?
If you are not getting your 8 hours or have been very stressed, then your chances of developing sleep paralysis are much higher. People who have been through long periods of physical and mental exhaustion are for more at risk than people who get regular sleep. Experts have been trying to understand the reasons and explanation for sleep paralysis but have do not have an in-depth explanation of this condition as yet. Researchers believe that the normal regulation of the brain and body during sleep and wakefulness has become dysfunctional.
When we fall asleep our brain normally ‘switches’ our body off. We cannot physically act out our dreams, and our muscles are in a semi-state of paralysis. This is a natural part of the deep sleep cycle, but during sleep paralysis, the person is conscious and awake but cannot move their muscles. Normally it occurs when a person is coming out of REM sleep and accompanied by rapid eye movement.
Some researchers believe that sleep paralysis may be genetic. People who have narcolepsy (A condition where you fall asleep uncontrollably.) are also more likely have sleep paralysis. Sleep experts have reported that between 25% and 50% of Americans have had sleep paralysis in their lives, at least once. A disrupted sleep schedule, such as experiencing bad jet-lag or studying all night, can also cause sleep paralysis. There is also a link between social anxiety and panic disorders and sleep paralysis.
Experiencing sleep paralysis can be a highly traumatic experience. It is something people have experienced across all cultures across the globe. From China and East Africa to Mexico and Newfoundland there have been cases of sleep paralysis. The superstitions and beliefs in demonic and supernatural possession have been common across cultures, even that a demon may be trying to have relations with people and sitting on their chests. In extreme cases, people have even suggested alien abduction may be the cause.