Above Artwork by: TsongUy (Deviant Art)
You just woke up and feel unable to move, suddenly your room turns into a surreal setting, you see creatures lingering close to you or objects come to life. Sound familiar? Sleep paralysis affects about less that 8% of the general population and it happens when the stage of deep sleep known as REM(Rapid Eye Movement) is not finished. A part of you is awake but the part of your brain that controls body movement is still asleep. Among the causes for sleep paralysis we find other sleep disorders to trigger it such as narcolepsy, anxiety, depression and PTSD. It can also be genetic and other studies have shown it mostly happens to people in the ages of 10-25. Whichever the reason may be experts recommend to get a healthy amount of sleep to prevent it (7-8 hours).
While experiencing Sleep Paralysis you can experience hallucinations which makes the event even scarier, simply try to go back to sleep or wait it out. Sleep Paralysis is not a reason for big concern and it happens to almost everyone at least once in their lifetime, if you experience it very often you need to consult your doctor.
Devil In The Room is a short film produced and directed by artist Carla MacKinnon. The film, part of The Sleep Paralysis Project, conveys and explores the experience. Watch it below:
You open your eyes, you wonder where you are, who’s the person next to you, your senses go into panic mode ready to fight, have you been kidnapped? And who are you?! This is perhaps the most disorienting and dangerous sleep disorder there may be. You can wake up next to your spouse and try to fight them or even kill them if you don’t know who they are. Sleep drunkenness can last between 15 – 45 min. Studies have shown that above 80% of people that experience sleep drunkenness presented other sleep disorders, mental health issues or used medications like antidepressants. Less than one percent didn’t present any of the above. Some people are woken by their alarms turn it off and go back to sleep making them late to work, and they don’t have any recollection of the event, it seems that part of your brain recognizes its need for more sleep and so it leads your body to make it so.
The best thing to do while experiencing Sleep Drunkenness, specially if it last more than a couple of minutes is to listen to your instincts, while this may be hard to do, if you feel safe even when you don’t recognize anything around you try to go back to sleep. If you have already been through this event, try to make a mental note and your brain might pick up on it when it happens again.
Sleep Myoclonus/ Hypnic Jerks
You are slowly falling asleep, it’s that sweet moment when you are fading into the realm of dreams and leaving reality behind, but suddenly you feel like you are falling and you jump involuntarily, waking you up and startle the person next to you, you feel slightly embarrassed. Hypnic Jerks remain somewhat of a mystery, nobody really knows for certain why they happen but many theories by experts have helped shed some light into the situation. It is said a brain battle ensues when you are crossing the line into sleep. These short moments of fright can be triggered by fatigue, sleep deprivation and even exercise. Perfectly healthy people experience this condition and is nothing to worry about, the best thing to do in this situation is to try to go back to sleep, although if it starts to happen on a regular basis and it affects your sleep is better to consult a physician.
A related sleep disorder is the sleep Myoclonus which presents involuntary body movement while asleep, it is usually a minor inconvenience while trying to get some rest that a big part of the population experience. Some may experience it in a larger scale where several twitching occurs while asleep, if it affects your rest consult an expert.