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The Ghoulish Truth Behind Sleep Paralysis

According to Chinese folklore, this phenomenon occurs when a ghost is sleeping on top of you – pressing you down and not allowing you to move. In Fiji, the experience has an even more terrifying description – locals refer to it as, “kana tevoro”, or “being eaten by a demon”. Back in medieval times, people believed this was the work of an evil succubus attacking them in their dreams.

Whatever the explanation, humans have already given this condition supernatural reasons for existing. What exactly is this strange situation that’s getting people across the globe all knotted up?

Sleep paralysis.

In this state, you may feel:

  • Awake, yet unable to move, speak or open your eyes
  • Like someone is in your room
  • As if something is pushing you down
  • Frightened

Worst of all, these feelings may last up to several minutes – now that’s really spooky!

What is sleep paralysis, really?

Before you call the Ghostbusters, hold up and read on. Science has some good (and non-terrifying) news for you. The Sleep Foundation describes sleep paralysis as a “brief loss of muscle control that happens just after falling asleep or waking up”.

The really scary bit about sleep paralysis? It’s usually accompanied by hallucinations, which aptly explains why the condition has caused people across to globe to attribute it to the supernatural.

Sleep paralysis is classified as a type of sleeping disorder, parasomnia (i.e. abnormal behaviour during sleep), which occurs during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep. Normally, during REM sleep, our body naturally loses muscle control – this is good, as it prevents us from acting out our dreams. As soon as we awake, we regain muscle control.

However, sometimes people may enter a mixed state of consciousness – being both awake and asleep at the same time. This means the person is still dreaming and hasn’t regained control of their muscles yet – but is semi-awake.

This leads to the disconcerting feeling of being awake, yet, paralysed in bed. (And those scary legends don’t help either!)

Is sleep paralysis treatable?

 While the condition isn’t an issue for most (who may only experience it a few times in their life, if any), approximately 10% of people suffer recurrent episodes of sleep paralysis – which can cause a discomforting amount of distress.

As with any medical condition, we advise seeking your doctor’s opinion for help with resolving this issue. With that said, developing better sleeping habits is one way to improve the situation and experience fewer episodes of sleep paralysis.

Here are some good sleeping habits that you can adopt for more restful nights in general – whether or not you suffer from sleep paralysis. These are some helpful habits you can try:

  • Be disciplined with your sleeping schedule. Go to bed and wake up at approximately the same times every day. If you’d like sleep in on weekends, be sure to wake up within 30 minutes of your regular waking times – no later, and no abusing that snooze button!
  • Avoid caffeine after lunch! The most obvious efforts of caffeine may only last around 3 to 5 hours, but it can stay in your system for up to 10 hours and keep you awake at night.
  • Choose curtains or blinds that let in an amount of light that you’re comfortable sleeping with – either blackout or daytime options, whatever works best for you
  • Remove or replace any audible distractions (if necessary), such as a noisy fan or air conditioning system.
  • Ensure you’ve got a comfortable, plush and supportive latex mattress that both you and your partner love! Be sure to ask about our “his and her” mattresses that feature dual firmness levels – perfect for any mixture of firmness preferences!

Looking for an amazing night’s sleep, every night? Check out Sofzsleep‘s latex mattresses and try them out for yourself at our showrooms! While we can’t promise you a “ghoul-free night”, we can assure you of an incredibly comfortable latex mattress that you’ll love jumping into – each and every night!

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