Have you ever been conscious of your environment while waking up, only to realize that you are unable to move any part of your body. It looks like the force of gravitation of pulling down to the bed and you feel so powerless that you can only hope that you get control of your body back. I guess you remember it now! In Nigeria, some people refer it as witches pressing your neck, and then you are told to read all the Psalms and pray in all the tongues you can remember in the spirit but the ones you understand and the ones you don't. You know, it is surprising that people like me who experience these things still have a little control of our thoughts, so our parents would always tell us to pray out of that scenario. It becomes worse when you eventually have the ability to control your body and you decide to tell your parents about your experience. That look on their faces like this girl just had a one-on-one encounter with the devil and overcame him, it is time to fortify her with more prayers and then you begin to experience a 1 hour series of prayers from deliverance to breakthrough, and fortification. If you didn't experience this as a Nigerian who is from a religious home, well the methods might be different depending on the religion but they all have the same believe (that village people pressing your neck and your body to the bed believe) then you didn't narrate the experience to your parents. You see, there was a time I had this sequence of waking event, and the prayer was intense, I decided to keep the experience to myself. This sleeping event where you are aware of your environment but cannot move any part of your body is known as Sleep paralysis.
With sleep paralysis, the person is aware of their environment, with a somewhat blurry vision but they are unable to move or speak, as a result of paralyzed muscles. This paralysis occur as a result of waking up immediately after the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. So you don't start thinking of village people when you tell people about your experience, in normal REM sleep, there is temporary paralysis of the muscles (atonia). These episodes only last for couple of minutes or even less, and there is a chance that you reading this post have experienced sleep paralysis, and if you haven't experienced it, there is a high chance that you would experience it in your lifetime since about 10 to 50% of people will experience sleep paralysis in their lifetime. It happens in both males and females, so there is no gender discrimination with sleep paralysis. The most closely tied event to sleep paralysis is hallucination, and people who experience sleep paralysis often say this because it can be accompanied with dark figures since vision is blurry and the brain is yet to completely function properly and the sense of helplessness intensifies the sensation around.
Sleep paralysis is regarded as an error during REM sleep, towards the end of REM sleep. When we sleep, we go through NREM and REM sleep cycle. These cycles can repeat itself about 4 to 5 times depending on the length of the sleep and at the end of REM sleep, we regain consciousness and wake up. Sleep paralysis occur during the transition from REM sleep and waking up, and asides from rapid eye movement, the brain is active, but the voluntary muscles are paralyzed. During REM sleep, the glutamatergic subcoeruleus neuron activates the GABAergic cells in the Ventral Medial Medulla by releasing glutamate. These activation inhibits motor neurons which are responsible for the contraction of skeletal muscles but this doesn't affect the respiratory muscles. In cases where there are muscle twitches in REM sleep, they are triggered by the RED Nucleus but they can be inhibited by the ventral medial medulla. This causes the inability to move skeletal muscle when there is a wake up from the REM stage as a result of the motor neurons not activated to function. Sleep paralysis can be classified into three phenomenon which are the intrusion phenomenon, the incubus phenomenon, and the vestibular motor phenomenon. With intrusion phenomenon, the person feels the bed and can see ghost-like characters or intruders as these people report their eyes being opened. With incubus phenomenon of sleep paralysis there is a full paralysis and people report that they feel pressure on their chest, or a feeling of suffocating. With the vestibular motor phenomenon, there is complete paralysis of the body, and some people have reported seeing their body floating.
With this, we cannot refer to sleep paralysis as a dream, but some research would say that it is a dreamlike state with a spill-over from REM state to Wake-up state, hence the hallucination since the brain is active. Some people who experience sleep paralysis may also feel their surrounding but may not be able to open their eyes. I have had episodes of this in recent time, and all I just want to do is wake up. The truth is I feel very annoyed while having this process and just want to wake up but when I finally regain consciousness, I am just glad I did and do not know who to transfer the aggression of that experience to. Have you experienced Sleep paralysis? you can share your experience if you have had sleep paralysis