Selin Hekimoglu/ Commentator

Have you ever found yourself completely unable to move or speak after waking up from a deep sleep? This state of inability to make any movement is referred to as sleep paralysis. It will occur while your body is in between the stages of being asleep and waking up. You are aware and conscious but can not move or speak for a while. Although the effects are only temporary, it causes a lot of fear for whoever is experiencing it. As if that was not enough, sleep paralysis can also come with different forms of hallucinations.

The first form is the hallucination of dangerous figures. In this type of hallucination, you are given the illusion that there is an evil presence in the room. This one is surely the most unsettling type there is, as you feel completely helpless by not being able to move or scream for help. Instead, with the effects of sleep paralysis you are forced to sit there and wait it out. This type of hallucination is also linked with the next one that I am about to mention.

The second type of hallucination that may be experienced is suffocation, more specifically in the chest area. This is when you feel a great deal of pressure on your chest which makes you think you are unable to breathe. This one often occurs with the first type. This is because our bodies strongly react when we think we are in danger. Without having the ability to move and physically react, we go into a state of panic. Our breathing rate drastically increases, to a point where it is out of control. This then leads to the feeling of suffocation.

Although it sounds frightening, this is not always the case. Hallucinations do commonly happen during these moments, but not always in a negative way. During my personal moments of sleep paralysis, I was waking up from a nap and was unable to move and speak but could look around the room with my eyes. As expected, I was laying on my back looking up at the ceiling. After looking up for quite some time, a crater appeared in the ceiling and sunlight was shining right down on me. There was a high-pitched voice whispering comforting words in my left ear, and rather than it being a scary experience, it was actually very nice. The only thing slightly off putting was how realistic it was. Clearly there was not really someone talking in my ear, and there was not a huge hole in the ceiling where sun would shine down on me, but it all felt terribly real. I could even feel the warmth from the sun on me, but, it was never even there.  

To prevent ourselves from facing sleep paralysis, we should first know the root causes behind it. Firstly, an irregular sleep schedule heavily plays a part in this. Someone who also lacks sleep is more likely to experience it. These two causes are the more predictable ones. People who sleep on their back, have issues regarding substance abuse, and have mental health issues are also more vulnerable to having sleep paralysis. A few things you can do to help stay away from having sleep paralysis is having a good 8 hours of sleep, do not sleep on your back, and go to sleep at the same time every night.