Imagine you're fast asleep and then suddenly awake. You want to move but can't, as if someone is sitting on your chest. And you can't even scream! This is sleep paralysis
, a creepy but common phenomenon caused by an overlap in REM sleep and waking stages.
Sleep paralysis occurs when a person passes between stages of wakefulness and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. When entering REM sleep, the brain shuts down the release of certain neurotransmitters in order to induce a state of paralysis.
In normal sleep, this paralysis ceases before the sleeper becomes consciously awake. Sometimes, however, the process falls out of step. A person may enter for a few seconds up to a few minutes. a state of waking conscious and become aware of their body while the body itself is still paralysed. Some people may also feel pressure or a sense of choking. Many experience frightening visions of demons, shadows, or an old woman known as "The Hag."
Sleep Paralysis will be experienced by one in five people. It tends to first appear in the teen years. It then occurs most often when you are in your 20s and 30s. It may continue into your later years. It is not a serious medical risk and understanding why it happens helps people feel less distressed after an episode.