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Sleep paralysis or the night you couldn't move


Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night without being able to move? It’s a few seconds that you feel that you are awake but you can’t move anything besides your eyes, you gasp for air but you can’t speak or scream. If this has happened to you, welcome to the ‘sleep paralysis’ club. 


Technically, sleep paralysis is not a very happy term given to a temporary inability to make any voluntary movements. It happens in that limbo between being asleep and awake.

Sleep paralysis emerges from disrupted REM sleep, named after the rapid eye movements that occur during this stage of the sleep cycle. During REM sleep, you dream a lot and your muscles unwind. Researchers explain that this happens as a protective mechanism, preventing us from acting out our dreams. 

When the REM cycles are interrupted (which occur roughly every ninety minutes once you’re deep into sleep), that’s when sleep paralysis kicks in. These interruptions become more frequent as the night progresses, and as you’re close to waking up, almost everything is in REM sleep; that’s probably why many people experience paralysis right at that moment. In that hour and a half, dreams are as eloquent as they can be, the heart rate accelerates, the brain is very active and the body is the opposite. In this confusing intrusion, many people have sworn to see silhouettes in the room or feel that a monster, demon or whatever.

paranormal presence was on top of them. Sometimes attacking, and sometimes right on top. 


Fortunately, there are hundreds of forums and people who share their stories about this condition on the internet. Exchanging experiences makes one feel less alone. Some stories are scary: “I couldn’t move, I was lying on my back, and a few steps away I saw a 20cm doll that started walking towards me with a knife”, says one forum user, or “My hallucinations were starting to affect me: one day I could see aliens and the next demons. It was something that really terrified me”, says another.

Luckily, not all episodes are panic-inducing: “I’m one of those people who doesn’t get scared much: when it’s night, I’ve continued sleeping, but when it’s daytime what I’ve done is try to move some part of my body from less to more intensity until I manage to wake up”, another person shares.


Among the causes of this limbo of misery is being under a lot of pressure or stress. You didn’t see that coming either did you? The thing is that, when we get into bed and try to stop thinking, the body remains alert to the supposed threat (or reason that stresses us), making it difficult for the body to relax.


Among the ways to treat sleep paralysis could be controlled breathing, which in theory is one of the relaxing techniques that can gradually lead us to wake up, now exhausted, from this nightmare or ghostly orgy. But in reality, there are a lot of influencing factors, some of which wouldn’t be resolved by working on breathing (for example, in narcoleptics or people with depressive disorders). Some neurologists say the real deal is trying to befriend the unconscious system and maintaining a sleep routine. Those famous eight hours that you keep calculating when you should go to bed and it’s never early. Otherwise, this disorder doesn’t get cured, and fatigue becomes a lingering mistake. Researchers also say that this disorder could fade away if you reduce your stress levels, which is kind of absurd because who’s not stressed in 2024?

*If you experience difficulties with sleep paralysis, please explore these websites for assistance and resources: 






Edited by Avanie Hiranadani

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