Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Beauty of the Brain & Sleep Paralysis

In my last post, I spoke of hypnopompic hallucinations and my experience with something known as sleep paralysis. I had to research my experience and have managed to come across some lovely explanations on the matter.

Taken from this webpage:

"Sleep paralysis is a condition in which someone, most often lying in a supine position, about to drop off to sleep, or just upon waking from sleep realizes that s/he is unable to move, or speak, or cry out. This may last a few seconds or several moments, occasionally longer. People frequently report feeling a "presence" that is often described as malevolent, threatening, or evil. An intense sense of dread and terror is very common. The presence is likely to be vaguely felt or sensed just out of sight but thought to be watching or monitoring, often with intense interest, sometimes standing by, or sitting on, the bed. On some occasions the presence may attack, strangling and exerting crushing pressure on the chest. People also report auditory, visual, proprioceptive, and tactile hallucinations, as well as floating sensations and out-of-body experiences (Hufford, 1982). These various sensory experiences have been referred to collectively as hypnagogic and hypnopompic experiences (HHEs). People frequently try, unsuccessfully, to cry out. After seconds or minutes one feels suddenly released from the paralysis, but may be left with a lingering anxiety."
And from an Islamtoday article:
"The source of this phenomenon is a natural bodily function. When you sleep, your brain shuts off the signals coming from your muscles so you do not get up and act out your dreams. This is to prevent you from injuring yourself in your sleep. For some reason, people with sleep paralysis come into consciousness before the brain returns voluntary control back to the muscles, creating a sense of feeling paralyzed. This sensation is quite uncomfortable and understandably frightening, which can lead the not wholly conscious person to experience some of the secondary symptoms of this disorder that can often be very frightening and realistic."