It paralyses your whole body, you’re awake and conscious of your environment but you can’t move because your body feels as heavy as lead. You open your mouth to scream but no sound comes out. Your breathing is laboured because the demon is pressing hard on your chest and almost cutting off your air supply. This can last for minutes, but it seems like hours. It can be startling when we wake up from a deep sleep and can’t move.
People wake up from such ordeal screaming, ‘Jesus!’ and praying to rebuke the evil spirit. Have you ever experienced something like this before?Zoella Bruschen writes for Daily Plug, explaining why this is so. According to her, these symptoms are stemmed from an unusual sleep phenomenon called sleep paralysis. Though social and psychological factors can influence this, the study of more than 36,000 participants back in 2011 state that it could be much more than that.
Daniel Denis, a PhD candidate in cognitive neuroscience and researcher at the Sleep Paralysis Project, explained this type of situation:
When you’re experiencing sleep paralysis, you become conscious. The idea is that your mind wakes up but your body doesn’t.
The brain is so active during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep that the body becomes paralyzed. This is called “REM atonia”.
Researchers still don’t know the reason for this, but they speculate that it’s so you don’t act out the dream.Most people describe a feeling as if they are in the clutches of a presence during their sleep paralysis. Researchers aren’t sure about why so many people feel this way, but they have a few ideas.
One idea is that the mind attempts to create the movement it can’t actually do.
Another is because the amygdala, the part of the brain controlling fear, becomes overactive. Here is how Denis describes it:
You wake up with your amygdala screaming. ‘There’s a threat!’ So your brain has to invent something to fix the paradox of the amygdala being active for no reason.
Well, let’s just hope the scientists speculations are right because I’d love to go with my regular African superstition…Lol!