Night Terrors

I was reading my Instagram feed this morning and came across an article from @factsweird. This article brought up something I had never really thought about. So I decided to look into it and so I began to dig into what is a sleep paralysis demon. I’ve never had a sleep paralysis demon myself. However, I do know people who have problems with sleep paralysis and, yes, some even are unfortunate enough to have experienced much more.

What is it?

Sleep paralysis demons aren’t something new to us, though. Tales of these occurrences go all the way back into history. It seems cultures all over the world have an explanation for this strange occurrence, but so does medicine. In every country there are stories or legends associated with this experience. For Italy, it can be an old hag or humanoid cat while the Inuit believe it to be a shamanistic attack.

Sleep paralysis is a disorder where you will wake up, but find yourself unable to move. You’re lying there in this paralytic state and there’s something coming towards you. This statement is the crux of all sleep paralysis victims. This explains why for so many centuries, people believed them to be demonic episodes or possessions. Some have said that it was like a UFO abduction, whilst others said it was an old hag or dead loved one that they saw over them. Whatever you see, it is nothing more than what psychiatrists call a “hypnagogic/hypnopompic hallucination” and is a symptom of sleep paralysis. As scary it may seem, it is by no means dangerous to you. It is something that you will simply need to brave out. It can be annoying or scary, but always keep in mind the creature glaring at you is not real.

This sleep paralysis is part of the normal cycle and can take place either before or after REM (Rapid Eye Movement). It is an abnormality in the sleep cycle. Think of hiccups–they are nothing more than an abnormality in the breathing cycle and are over soon. Sleep paralysis is the same. People who have narcolepsy, are also very prone to sleep paralysis. People who have anxiety, stress, sleep deprivation, jetlag, PTSD, heartburn or consume large amounts of alcohol also have a better chance of getting sleep paralysis. Another odd habit that increases your chances of getting sleep paralysis is sleeping on your back.

How do I treat it?

There are many ways to treat sleep paralysis. Sometimes it’s just something as simple as changing sleeping habits. Research has found that nappers are more likely to have sleep paralysis than non-nappers. Improving your sleeping habits to ensure you get 7 – 8 hours of sleep a night can also prevent you from having sleep paralysis. Lucid dreaming. Watch out for that. That can also contribute to sleep paralysis.

Also ensuring you don’t sleep on a full stomach or drink coffee or alcohol before you go to bed as this can decrease your chances of getting sleep paralysis. I mentioned above that sleeping on your back can increase your chances of getting sleep paralysis, so it stands to reason that if you don’t it will decrease your chances.

Should you find you have disorders such as anxiety disorder or panic disorder, PTSD or any of the others mentioned above, you will need to seek treatment as this can also increase your chances of getting sleep paralysis and getting it treated is a must. Exercising regularly goes hand-in-hand with this. As any psychologist or psychiatrist will tell you, exercise reduces stress and anxiety as it releases endorphins that combat the stress and anxiety. Be careful not to do this too close to bedtime as it will over-stimulate you and you won’t be able to sleep.

One last thing, relax. It should be obvious to anyone that sleeping requires relaxation, but knowing something and having the ability to do it are two separate things. I, myself, make use of the breathing exercises in yoga to help me relax in the afternoons after a hard work day. It really works and it’s great to strengthen your body! Do this before bed or maybe play some calming music (I recommend Leisure Society or Weightless by Marconi Union) to help you sleep.

So….now you sleep

As you close your eyes tonight, count yourself lucky that you can sleep, when there may be avidReaders among us who suffer from this terrible condition. If you are one of them, I hope this helps.

God bless and happy dreams all my darling Avids.

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