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.

Stress and How To Cope

image provided by IdeaScale

Well to be honest, how do any of us deal with work? Well, we just move on, don’t we? We take our calming pills, drink coffee (which we really shouldn’t, but we do anyway), take up smoking or drinking and sometimes even take a break in the bathroom where we just cry our hearts out. If you start to over-eat, it can be a problem, too. All of these can be healthy or unhealthy.

Something else that can also severely affect your stress and coping mechanisms–chronic stress and anxiety. When you’ve reached this point, it becomes harmful to your physical state and your emotional state. Some people can’t deal with the stress and have to go onto medication to deal with the stress. Turning to drugs or even suicide is something that is not impossible for people dealing with this problem. I know of at least person I’ve met who actually ended up developing a severe mental problem.

Now first off, don’t think you can do this alone–you can’t. We all need someone to help us. There’s no shame in needing help.

There are a few things that can set you up for work-related stress. These things are low salaries, unreasonable work expectations, few opportunities for growth or advancement, a boring job, no social support from co-workers or your boss, having a lack in control in your work decisions and being unsure of what your job is.

If you have any of the above, don’t be surprised–we all do. These stressors can cause a variety of physical issues such as headaches, stomachaches, sleep disturbances, short temper and lack of concentration. When I go under extreme stress I get stomachaches and nausea; I know how you feel it’s not something to sneeze at.

Stress can set off a vicious chain reaction causing a host of problems such as chronic anxiety and a weakened immune system. Ever wondered why you get sick when you’re stressed? Stop wondering, now you know. However, there are ways to deal with these stressors. Before you can deal with them, ask yourself “avidWriter, why are you stressed?” Once you know why and how you respond to it, you can do something about it. Whenever I get stressed my mother chases me out the office and says to go walk or get coffee, just as long as I’m out and moving around. I’m also recording and keeping track of how I feel or how I responded to someone or something.

Among the various ways to deal with stress exercise has proven to be useful in dealing with stress. Yoga is a good way to deal with stress as it teaches you to breathe and thus calm yourself down. I do sit-ups to chill out. Exercise helps. If you have a hobby (like I do blogging and playing Sims) that can also be a means to help you deal with your stress. Sleep–good sleep can also aid in dealing with stress. If you stop drinking coffee in the afternoon and stop using all electronic devices in the evening you’ll also find you have reduced anxiety and stress levels and it also helps you sleep. Also setting boundaries such as “I’m available from 8:00 – 16:00 and not before or after” is also a good way to reduce stress. Take a break; relax and just be. Living in the moment can reduce your stress because in the end all the work stress is going to be pointless.

As scary and hard as it may seem, play open cards with your boss/supervisor. Afterall, any changes made to your environment whether emotional or physical can make you feel less stressed and thus make your boss happier since you will be more productive. Starting your morning off on the right foot is another very important. Look in the mirror and maybe say something positive about yourself or listen to a song that immediately cheers you up. I’ve started a new technique where I don’t stream anything in the morning instead once I’m up and properly awake I play music (my Jack Russell loves my music, too) while I get ready and sometimes even sing along. It really helps to start my day off right.

There many other things you can try such as avoiding conflict. In my previous job I did my utmost to stay clear of drama. It did nothing for my well-being to be either causing drama or actively trying to get involved in it. I don’t care what your motives are, getting embroiled in others affairs definitely contributes to your stress levels. Sometimes you can’t avoid office politics, when this happens be careful how you deal with it.

Clutter, the bane of my existence. If you’re like me, nothing irks you more than being in a messy, cluttered environment. It inhibits your ability to think clearly and may make you feel claustrophobic. Being comfortable at work, more specifically at your desk, can also make all the difference in the world. If you are uncomfortable in your office space, this will cause you to be unsettled and can cause you to feel stressed. Another thing to avoid is multitasking. This was always a praiseworthy trait, but it has now become something that only makes you feel frazzled and can cause severe detriment to your mental sanity. There is, however an alternative called “chunking”.

What is chunking? Simply put it is the grouping of data into larger sets we can remember for example license plates and phone numbers. When phone numbers are put together it makes it easier because instead of having to remember individual numbers it can be remembered by its grouping together with other numbers. 072, 082, 012 and other older numbers are all remembered easily since you will always remember that certain numbers go together in pre-determined patterns. This enables us to hack our brains and increase our memory. Another way to keep track of what you have to do is to write it down–EVERYTHING. It sounds annoying and time-consuming, but trust me when I say this forgetting something is worse.

PRIORITIZE! I can not stress this enough. When you have multiple things going through the mind all the time you go into crisis mode. This crisis mode causes even more stress since you are no longer in control of your situation and have now forgotten most of what you had to do.

You can do all sorts of things to remain stress free such as taking walks, listening to music on the way home and so many more. “Stress is a killer” is not just a phrase. It’s a sad truth.

In the immortal words of MIKA, “Relax, take it easy.” Don’t let life get you down–you got this.

God bless you, all my precious avids. Keep well and safe 💖