Saturday, January 15, 2011

Ghostly Hauntings Or Sleep Paralysis?

Ghostly Hauntings Or Sleep Paralysis?

Have you ever woken up convinced you have been abducted by aliens? Ever had a spooky experience with a ghostly apparition and thought for sure it was real, only to later recall it as a dream? Well, discounting the paranormal and your normal dreams momentarily, let's consider that what may have happened is a rare case of sleep paralysis.

I say rare because for a normal person this kind of an event can happen once or twice in a lifetime with no lasting problems as a result. However there are some who experience this quite often, and because it is rarely talked about (thus rarely diagnosed) it can lead to waking conditions such as stress, anxiety, and even PTSD.

Sleep paralysis has been described as being a condition wherein you are experiencing some effects of REM sleep (muscle atonia) while you are still somewhat conscious. Thus, it only happens noticeably when you are falling asleep or waking up. It can last for a mere moment or continue on for several minutes and in almost every case it causes the afflicted to feel a panic response, and/or extreme anxiety.

Because the mind and body is "stuck" in the beginnings (or endings) of a REM sleep cycle, people have often described hallucinations as being present during this experience - hence it has been postulated that everything from alien abductions to ghostly encounters can be attributed to sleep paralysis. People have described all manner of strange and out of place objects and/or situations present during SP, all of which are no more real than a 3 dollar bill.


One of the biggest problems in properly diagnosing this condition is because people normally discount the experience as a dream (or nightmare, respectively). Since it is such a fantastical experience, we don't really have the faculties to consider the alternative of having just had a "bad dream". In fact, while it is entirely possible we were just dreaming about drowning in a bowl of spaghetti, it may actually have been more than a dream, it may have been a bonafide physiological condition and documented sleep disorder.

There are a few treatments to consider, some of which mirror the insomnia cures your own Doctor would recommend. Benzodiazipines, for example, have been known to lessen the frequency of this condition. It's also smart to see your local doctor or sleep clinic to be evaluated for possible narcolepsy, another sleep disorder I'll be talking about in later articles.

So should you find yourself floating towards the little gray people in the sky and unable to stop it, keep in mind that you may not be bound for interstellar travel - you may just be stuck dealing with the remnants of REM sleep and a process the body has been known to manifest from time to time. With some pretty average insomnia cures you can combat the problem but most of all, never let it stop you from getting a good night's rest!

Irene Mckay has worked in sleep research for over a decade, specializing in clinical studies designed to improve the quality of restful sleep for individuals suffering from chronic and transient insomnia. She runs a research and treatment site called Insomnia Cures where she critiques and explains various insomnia treatments.

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