Sleep paralysis is a phenomenon in which a person, either falling asleep or awakening, temporarily experiences an inablility to move, speak, or react. It is the transitional state between wakefulness and sleep, characterized by complete muscle weakness. Often the person feels paralyzed. During this state, the person my begin to have terrifying hallucinations, such as an intruder in the room and is unable to move due to the physical experience happening in the body. A person may feel strong current running through the upper body. One theory is that, of disrupted REM sleep, which normally induces complete muscle atonia to prevent sleepers from acting out their dreams.
Sleep paralysis has been linked to disorders such as narcolepsy, migraines, anxiety disorders, and obstructive sleep apnea.
There are two types of classifications of sleep paralysis. The first is Isolated Sleep Paralysis (ISP) and the second is rarer Recurrent Isolated Sleep Paralysis (RISP). ISP episodes are infrequent and may occur once in a person's lifetime. While RISP is a chronic condition and can recur throughout a person's lifetime and episodes lasting up to an hour or longer. ISP episodes are shorter and are typically associated with the intruder and incubus visitations.
Sleep paralysis can effect men and women of any age group. Average age usually begins between the ages of 14 years old and 17 years old. It may be passed down through genetics.
In sleep paralysis, the body remains paralyzed in REM atonia while the brain awakens and the eyes start to open. Sleep paralysis can occur during one of two transitions in the sleep cycle. The body must go into REM sleep, and it must come out of it, but sleep paralysis occurs when the body has trouble making these transitions. If it happens when you’re falling asleep, it’s called hypnagogic sleep paralysis, whereas if it happens during waking it’s called hypnopompic. Anyone who has ever experienced this can tell you that it is effing terrifying and feels almost paranormal, rather than a typical sleep disorder. Research has shown that sleep paralysis is not dangerous. It does not cause physical harm to the body and there are no clinical deaths known to date.