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Why Do People Suffer From Sleep Paralysis?

Tonight on The Project, we’ll be exploring Sleep Paralysis and its causes.

Sleep Paralysis is when your mind wakes up, but your body doesn’t. As you enter REM sleep, your brain sends out motor neuron inhibitors called GABA and glycine to temporarily paralyse your muscles, which is totally normal. However, while most people remain asleep during this time, others may wake up and realize they can’t move.

According to Paul Brown, who suffers from severe sleep paralysis about three or four times a week, he says, “You can’t open your mouth, you can’t scream, you can’t move your tongue.”

It can last seconds, or even minutes before either snapping out of it, or falling back to sleep.

If this sounds terrifying enough, about one in one-thousand people suffer from extreme hallucinations. Paul is part of this statistic, where he describes seeing a horrifying old hag. “She’s got this long, wavy hair, and just this wrinkly face. And she just kinda gets up close and stares at you…”

Sleep paralysis often affects people with PTSD and anxiety, however it’s also brought on by irregular sleep patterns, and drinking too much alcohol and/or caffeine. Physician Dr. David Cunnington says, “we think sleep paralysis occurs fairly frequently in milder forms, in somewhere between 5 and 10 per cent of the population. The much more severe episodes are much less common.”

For those suffering from severe sleep paralysis, in itself it isn’t dangerous. Dr. David Cunnington said, “It’s incredibly distressing, but we don’t think there are any long-term lasting impacts…”


To find out more about Sleep Paralysis, please tune into The Project tonight at 6:30