Sleep Paralysis: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment for Dream Paralysis
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Sleep Paralysis: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment for Dream Paralysis

Sleep paralysis also known as dream paralysis is a horrible nightmare that occurs between REM sleep and wakefulness

Sleep paralysis is also known and dream paralysis and is a terrible nightmare which occurs when a person is between sleep and wakefulness. In this type of sleep disorder, sufferers hallucinate about terrible creatures in their room and yet they are incapable of moving. The hallucinations include the feeling of an old hag on their chest holding them down. For this reason sleep paralysis is also known as old hag syndrome.

Prevalence of sleep paralysis

It is estimated that as much as 80 percent of people may experience this horrifying nightmare at least once in their lifetime.

The symptoms of sleep paralysis are:

  • The inability to walk or talk while experiencing night paralysis. This night paralysis can last for quite a few minutes and is very frightening. The sleeper may panic because they are not sure what is happening to them, they cannot move, yet there are all kinds of scary things around them.

  • A feeling of intense pressure on the chest accompanied by the unable to move
  • Hypnagogia which is a state of being awake, yet asleep.

  • Very vivid hallucinations

  • Loss of muscle tone (catalepsy)

  • A floating feeling such as an out of body experience

  • Sensing other people or creatures are in the room

  • Seeing through closed eyes

  • Acting out a dream with out actual physical movement

Factors that may trigger dream paralysis

  • Attempting to create a lucid dream
  • stress,
  • some medications
  • sleep deprivation

Causes for sleep paralysis

  • Narcolepsy sufferers can suffer from sleep paralysis, and dream paralysis is also linked to epilepsy.
  • It is normally to experience paralysis during REM sleep because the body is protecting itself from being seriously harmed by acting out the content of a dream. However, people do not wake up during rem sleep. This sleep wake syndrome found in sleep paralysis is believed to be a malfunction of the neurological impulses sent out during the different stages of the sleep cycle. In REM sleep the Pons area of the brain releases chemicals to stop the sleeper from moving; but the chemical has not fully worn off as it should have when the person is about to wake up. That is why the sleeper who is between sleep and being awake cannot move.
  • Also lower levels of melatonin seem to be implicated in preventing the body's motor function to return to normal during the wakeful state. It is at this time that the sleeper can experience the horrifying hallucinations.

Other theories about the causes of dream paralysis

Astral travel

The theory of astral travel as it relates to sleep paralysis purports that when the body travels to another astral plane the soul, which should go with the body to this other realm, is somehow trapped in the body and it is at this precise point that the worldly and other worthy forces unite and are seen by the dreamer. These forces prevent the soul from traveling to the other astral plane.

In conjunction with the astral travel theory there is the theory that the mind has already separated from the body, but has not yet entered the astral plane and when sleep paralysis occurs, it is still in the etheric stage (not yet in astral travel).

Treatment for sleep paralysis

Doctors often treat night paralysis the same way they would with narcolepsy patients. The brain chemical Hypocretin (hi-po-KREET-in) is believed to be responsible for narcolepsy and so the doctors will proscribe medications and suggest lifestyle changes such as proper amounts of sleep, diet, exercise and cessation of drugs and alcohol.


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