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Sleep paralysis or “old hag” syndrome
Imagine that you wake up in the middle of the night and see somebody’s (or something’s) silhouette near your bed. Some people not only saw some creature, but also heard its whispering in their ears like “Just came in to say goodnight” and felt that they were pressed down on their chests. It is far from the worst. The most shocking thing is that they could not move any part of their bodies in such a situation…
Such a phenomenon is called a sleep paralysis and tends to last from a few seconds to a couple of minutes. It is the opposite one to somnambulism when there is no muscle paralysis while a man is asleep.
Sleep paralysis is not as rare as we may think. According to the study, conducted in 2011, 7.6 per cent of people had it at least once in their lives. This figure is even higher with the people who suffer from narcolepsy – about 40 per cent (it is a sleep disorder when there is a shortage of orexin (hypocretin) in a man’s organism which is responsible for regulating the states of sleep and wakefulness; it leads to excessive daytime sleepiness).
Sleep paralysis is not dangerous, although a person may have a feeling that he/she is dying. The thing is that a person’s inability to move during this period can be accompanied by terror, a feeling of pressing down on a chest which can cause restricted breathing, also hallucinations and increased heart rate. People who have experienced sleep paralysis told that they definitely saw someone/something in their bedrooms. Some of them heard outside noise and even were touched. Also, it may seem to a man that he/she is out of his/her body. You know, like in the films when a man’s spirit is souring up upon his dying body.
Regarding different nations’ mythologies, sleep paralysis is the way in which demons, witches and other evil spirits affect us. However, not always their appearance forebodes something bad or they are trying to scare or kill you. For example, in the Russian mythology, these demons are associated with brownies whose aim is to let you know about an oncoming danger or success and happiness.
If to consider this phenomenon from a scientific point of view, it is nothing else but the process of moving from one sleeping stage to another (there are 4 of them. Three are of a Non-Rapid Eye Movement and the last one is a Rapid Eye Movement stage. Only in the last one, a person can see dreams). The difference is in the smoothness of moving. Also, scientists suggest that in such a way (when a man has its body immovable) a person is protected from making moves as in a dream.
Having a feeling like somebody is pressing down on your chest can also be explained. Obviously, if you have it, you are lying on your back. In such a position, breathing passages become narrower, and it is more difficult for a man to breathe properly that’s why a man snores. It may resemble that somebody or something is weighing heavily on a man’s chest.
A feeling as if a man is out of his/her body floating also has an explanation. When a person cannot move, usually it is quite difficult to define in what position he/she is at the moment. That is why some people think that their spirit and body become separated for some time.
What are the causes of sleep paralysis?
Age is an important factor. According to the studies conducted, teenagers and young adults are more likely to have sleep paralysis. What concerns a gender difference, men and women’s chances to have it are equal.
Restless leg syndrome (when a person is feeling an urge to move his legs all the time. It happens mostly when a man is relatively immovable; usually, a person does not want to do it when he/she is on feet).
Poor sleep habits:
A man does not keep to a schedule of waking up and going to bed at the same time regularly.
Even the slightest noise, smell or light can interfere a man with sleeping.
A man is used to be stuffed full right before going to bed as well as to consume drinks containing caffeine, illicit drugs or alcohol and to smoke. It should be taken into consideration that approximately 8 hours are needed to get caffeine out of a human’s organism. The investigation, held in 2005, showed that the people who are used to drink more than 4 cups of coffee during a day have more insomnia’s symptoms than those who drink 1 cup maximum.
He/she works (no matter whether this work is intellectual or physical) right before going to bed.
A man is used to take long daytime naps.
A man is a shift worker.
What is possible to do to stop sleep syndrome?
Before applying to a doctor, you can try to do everything that depends on you. Firstly, reconsider and update, if necessary, your sleep hygiene patterns. Define what you have been missing and start treating them more conscientiously.
If sleep paralysis occurrences still repeat, go to a hospital. Specialists will examine you for mental illnesses and prescribe you a treatment if the case is really serious.
Maybe, it is even better if a man who suffers from sleep paralysis apply to a doctor at once. It can be rather helpful to hear a scientific explanation for this phenomenon. It can assure a person that there is nothing to be afraid of and worry about.
Here are some tips how to behave from the people who had sleep paralysis several times:
Try to move your tongue, eyes and thumbs.
Try to lift up your head.
Assure yourself that you are in safe, you are in no danger and the situation is under control.
Remember that everything you can see, hear or feel is unreal; it is just your mind’s games.
If you believe in God, pray. There are cases when a man began to pray in such a situation even if he/she has never done it before. They say it really helps.
Do not portray a picture of what can happen to you next in dark colors. Try not to think about it at all.
Try to relax.
Try to distract yourself; focus your attention on something else.
Avoid stress in waking life with all possible means or at least try to reduce its harmful effect to a minimum.
Do not sleep on your back; change your sleeping position.
Keep a healthy lifestyle.
Relax before going to bed (have a cup of herbal tea, take a warm bath, read a book or watch some calm TV episode).