Sleep Paralysis Essay

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Sleep Paralysis

Did you ever awaken and find yourself unable to move? Perhaps you sensed a presence in your room or a pressure on your chest. This is sleep paralysis. It is a common disorder that affects millions of people. Most believe it occurs as we are on the edge of REM sleep. The disorder has been connected with such hallucinogenic events such as alien abduction or an evil presence. Sleep paralysis is an inability to move or speak, occasionally accompanied by hallucinations, for up to several minutes upon awakening or just before falling asleep.
The symptoms of sleep paralysis are often associated with REM sleep. This is because during REM sleep, except for the diaphragm, we are more or less paralyzed from the neck down as we
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I felt assured that I labored under incubus. I even endeavored to reason myself out of the feeling of dread which filled my mind, and longed, with insufferable ardour, for someone to open the door, and dissolve the spell which bound me in its fetters. The fit did not continue above five minutes: by degrees I recovered the use of sense of motion; and, as soon as they were so far restored as to enable me to call out and move my limbs, it wore insensibly away.

Episodes of sleep paralysis are often accompanied by hypnogogic hallucinations (Mendelson 223). These are commonly mistaken for an evil presence, or having a pressing weight on your chest. At the turn of the century this presence was known as the “Old Hag”, or “The witch” (Larkin). Sleep paralysis is a common condition with a prevalence of 5-62%, although most affected people have single or infrequent episodes (Dahlitz). Occasionally sleep paralysis is found to run in a family, and it can be associated with other disorders of hypersomnia, such as sleep apnea (Becker 81). Narcolepsy has also been linked with sleep paralysis; both are thought to be REM sleep disorders (Siegel). Gender and race do not seem to be a factor of risk for this disorder. The episodes of sleep paralysis seem to range from ages 5-35 (Dahlitz). The use of anxiolytic medicines, psychiatric disorders and high anxiety can also contribute to sleep paralysis (Larkin). The treatment for sleep paralysis is

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