World please stop. Today is my birthday.
Although I can't share my birthday cake here; I've got something more valuable to share. So lets get this party started...
As a matter of fact, since the beginning of this week I was eagerly anticipating 5th September. The truth is that I've been so busy this year and the only thing I could possibly wish for today was a little time to relax at home. Yeah, I know you probably thought I'd say I needed time to party. Maybe I would have; but unfortunately, I'm not the partying kind of person. I don't just want anyone fainting after seeing my dance moves. Not like I've got any.
On a more serious note, two days ago I went through something that happens to be my weirdest experience ever. Maybe it's the 'weirdest' because it's just of recent and I'm not really good at keeping bad memories. Honestly, this particular experience got me wishing I had written my will. Well. Clothes and shoes are important assets. You didn't hear that from me.
Well, just like every hardworking person out there; Monday is normally the most stressful day of the week for me. It's always work, work, and more work. The only time I rest is when I'm get back home. Funny enough, even with the stress of the day, I still have to make dinner before finally retiring to bed, or better still sleep hungry. This is one of the numerous untold predicaments of every bachelor. You don't expect angels to cook for us.
This particular day, sleeping hungry was never an option so I had to use the little energy left to make noodles. Please don't ask if the food tasted nice because at that point, taste didn't mean anything to me. So after eating to my satisfaction, it was quite easy to sleep immediately I jumped on the bed. Honestly, I knew eating at that odd hour of the day as well as sleeping immediately after the meal was unhealthy, but I had no choice.
In the morning, all I could possibly remember is partially waking up to feel a strange force holding me down. This definitely was not just a mere 'holding; it was a combination of difficulty in breathing and movement, all at once. Worst of it all, I heard scary sounds so I opened my eyes. What I saw made my blood frozen right from the inside, but immediately I blinked, it was gone. Trust me, I was literally shaking inside and the more I tried to get up, the more it seems like an impossible mission. Although this terrifying episode lasted for just few minutes; deep inside it was like an eternity for me. Even without saying it, it's quite obvious where I first rushed to immediately I got released from the unseen grip. Oh my door, my precious door.
It took all the courage I've ever gathered in my entire life to enter the house again and prepare for work. At the office, I became the comedian of the day. Everyone got so cracked up after hearing my story. Since it was my first time experiencing this, I needed to share with others so I know if I should say bye-bye to sleeping in that house. I was happy when I heard others saying they've had similar experiences and they blamed their 'village people' for it. However, while we were still discussing; one of our colleague asked if we've heard of the term sleep paralysis. He tried explaining but then we all had to dismiss to our various offices when the MD showed up. I was left with only one option; to do my own research. I'm sure you'll learn a lot from what we're about diving into right about now.
The concept of sleep paralysis
Truthfully, as a science oriented fellow I'm still surprised that I never for once heard of sleep paralysis. And the mere fact that my colleague who enlightened me on this is an Artist somehow bruised my ego. Please don't laugh. On a good side, this affirmed that learning truly has no boundaries. Well. If you're eagerly waiting to read the whole concept of sleep paralysis, then trust me when I say that you've read 70% of it already. Just as the name implies, we can define sleep paralysis as a state of being paralyzed before or after sleeping. In my own case it was the later that took place. Although the way I narrated my experience might sound amusing; believe me, there's nothing enjoyable or funny about this phenomenon. All the same, to avoid this article from getting unnecessarily boring, we'll rather skip the details and focus on the main gist.
(License: Public Domain: Flickr
Before someone can clearly understand sleep paralysis, it's important to chip in the human slee cycle which acts as the basis of our discussion. Well. For most people, they feel that sleep is just a simple and straightforward phenomenon, but it's actually not so. According to the National sleep foundation, the length of a sleep cycle ranges from 90 - 120 minutes. And you'll agree with me that in one night, it's possible for an individual to have at least five sleep cycles. Athough sleep cycles are continuous, it's important to pinpoint that a particular sleep cycle is made up of two phases. The first phase is known as the non-rapid eye movement (NREM) while the next phase is known as the rapid eye movement (REM).
Just as the name implies; during the NREM, eye movement ceases and there's a decrease in the brain, heart and muscle activities thereby resulting in complete body relaxation. However, this isn't the case with REM; a unique state that trigger dreams. In this particular phase, the brain is believed to be awake but the body paralyzed. Normally, a person should only be awake after the end of the REM phase. But unfortunately, certain factors can cause individuals to be awakened midway thereby resulting in a condition called sleep paralysis.
Now lets consider the factors responsible for sleep paralysis
(License: Public Domain]: Flickr
It might interest you to know that the pathophysiology of sleep paralysis is not yet known and this condition can be experienced by both the healthy and unhealthy person. Yet, it is believed that an individual's sleep cycle to an extent has a direct involvement in sleep paralysis. Hence, it therefore means that anything that causes alteration in the normal sleep cycle indirectly instigate the incidence of sleep paralysis. And as we all know, the commonest factor that affects sleep cycle is sleep deprivation.
According to several scientific researches, individuals that are sleep deprived always have shorter NREM-REM latency. In other words, this means that there's a great tendency for their sleep-wake cycle to breakdown or be distorted. And once this happens, it's either the affected individual experience sleep paralysis before they're completely asleep or while waking up. Nonetheless, the most common sleep paralysis is always experienced while waking up. Cases of sleep paralysis before one sleeps is rare and most times could be linked to a severe neurological disorder such as narcolepsy
Also, aside from sleep deprivation affecting the sleep-wake cycle of an individual, it also intensifies the risk of psychological stress. As earlier stated, sleep paralysis is usually accompanied by frightening hallucination and several studies carried out shows that this is basically caused by psychological stress. Just like in my own case, a person may likely see a scary shadowy figure, and at times may likely hear weird sounds; whereas in true sense these things are imaginations created by the psychological symptoms during sleep paralysis.
Is sleep paralysis in any way demonic?
In this part of the world, I grew up to hear that demons sometimes oppress people in their sleep. That's the major reason why I got so terrified when I had the experience I narrated earlier on. According to the stories I've heard, the experience might look like a nightmare, yet it's happening in reality. Some even asserted that these demons do carry their victims from the bed to somewhere else. However, a neurological hypothesis suggests that since the body mechanism that coordinates movement and also provides information about body position is activated during sleep paralysis, a floating sensation is induced. Floating in the sense that, an individual may feel that he or she is flying or carried when all these things are not actually happening.
The intent of writing this article is to enlighten so many people out there that might have had similar experiences that sleep paralysis has no connection with demons; rather, it is mostly self-inflicted. Studies have shown that Egypt has the highest cases of sleep paralysis mainly because the Egyptians strongly believe in the connection of supernatural forces with this phenomenon. That's how fear and other psychological effects capitalize on the misconception to worsen the situation. Hence, whether sleep paralysis is caused by demons or not, it's advisable to stick to sleep hygiene and cognitive behavioural therapy which plays vital roles in an individual's psychological health.
Once again, thanks for doing this with me. Till next time!
For further reading...
A waking nightmare: The enigma of sleep paralysis. Retrieved on the 3rd September, 2018
Is sleep paralysis a symptom of a serious problem?. Retrieved on the 3rd September, 2018
Everything you need to know about sleep paralysis. Retrieved on the 3rd September, 2018
Wikipedia - Sleep paralysis. Retrieved on the 3rd September, 2018
Images are from flickr and wikicommons, licensed under creative commons and eligible for commercial use.