A World Of Sleep

Ever wondered how it feels when your state of consciousness is devoured? Are you thinking of shouting for help because of how terrifying it is to be choked? Well, it’s all because of the old hag syndrome.

Sleep paralysis, colloquially known as the old hag syndrome is a temporary state where the muscle loses its functions while sleeping. It occurs when you cannot move or speak as you’re waking up or falling asleep because the brain is helping the muscles of the limbs to relax at that moment. It happens when your sleep cycle is shifting and you regain awareness either by going into or coming out of rapid eye movement (REM).

REM is a stage of sleep associated with memory consolidation and dreaming. During this stage, the body experiences temporary muscle paralysis while the brain shows signs similar to wakefulness. Blood pressure rises, breathing and the beating of the heart become irregular as the eyes dart rapidly in several directions. Pre-dormital ( hypnagogic) and post-dormital (hynopompic) sleep paralyses occur when going into and out of REM respectively.

“I felt my soul was leaving my body despite being conscious of all that was happening. I tried moving my arm forcefully, I couldn’t feel a thing. The frustrating aspect was the reluctance of my eyes to respond to me. I gave up and then wondered how people who died while sleeping felt. Luckily for me, my mom came in when I had surrended to tap me and my body started functioning properly again” said a person who experienced sleep paralysis.

In some traumatic cases, sleep paralysis is accompanied by hallucinations and intense fear because of the inability to shout and feelings of getting suffocated.

The symptoms of sleep paralysis include;

▪︎Inability to speak during the whole saga.

▪︎Muscle aches due to atonia (temporary paralysis of the limbs while sleeping).

▪︎The sudden desire to sleep during the day and reluctance to sleep early at night.

▪︎Tightening around the through because of the heavy pressure on the chest.Mild hallucinations after waking up.

Sleep paralysis is sometimes triggered by; ▪︎Inadequate sleep.

▪︎Irregular sleep cycle.

▪︎Psychological stress.

▪︎Hormonal changes.


Medically researched, there are no proven treatments for sleep paralysis other than working on the causes. The following helps to reduce incessant attacks of sleep paralysis.

▪︎Stress management.

▪︎Maintaining a healthy and regular sleeping habit.

▪︎Exercising regularly prior to bedtime.

Based on reports from people suffering from sleep paralysis, focusing on a part of their limbs helps to snap out of the situation.

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