Sleep Paralysis, in Malay mostly known as “Kene Tindih” but in bahasa rasmi, known as “Kelumpuhan Tidur”.
When speaking about “Kene Tindih”, people will immediately related this condition with supernatural things or the person is being possessed. Because of that, many shared stories about “Kene Tindih” were scary. But did you know, it actually fairly common sleep condition/disorder.
Sleep Paralysis is a sleep disorder wherein the person though is awake, but they temporarily unable to speak or move. Scientifically, it is a sign that your body and mind are unable to transition through different stages of sleep.
When this condition usually occurs?
This event usually occurs when the person either falling asleep (Hypnagogic) or waking up from sleep (Hypnopompic). Hypnagogic state is when you entering REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage sleep while Hypnopompic state is when you exiting REM stage sleep. The REM stage sleep is when the brain becomes active and is conscious enough to experience life-like visions in the form of dreams, but the body is still inactive.
Sleep Paralysis is an anomaly happen when you wake up in the middle of the REM stage sleep. When a person wakes up when the REM stage is still active, he/she is able to see, hear and feel because the brain is awake, but is unable to move because the body has not yet come out of the REM stage. Although this sounds scary, it lasts only a few seconds because the body realises that the brain is already awake and slowly begins to move again.
There are 3 common symptoms associated with sleep paralysis.
The symptoms can be characterised by sensory, auditory, and visual hallucinations such as;
01) Intruder :- A sense of malevolent presence in the room, footstep sounds, shadows, and rattling doorknobs.
Above are the example of symptoms of visual hallucinations. This happens because the person mind is active but still in dream-state and has not fully awake. These visions or hallucinations can be the ongoing dream that the person is having.
02) Incubus :- Difficulty in breathing, pressure on the chest, sense of being smothered, sexually assaulted or killed.
Those who have experienced sleep paralysis find it to be scary. It almost seems like you were having a stroke, where your entire body was paralyzed, and you could not move or speak. Along with paralysis of the body, people may also experience tightness or pressure on their chest, as well as a choking feeling.
03) Vestibular Motor :- Out of body experience, floating or hovering, flying, rapid spinning, or falling from heights.
These symptoms are the most infrequent condition happens during sleep paralysis. The reason why certain person particularly experience this events remain unanswered. But it is also hugely debate that these conditions are just one of the visual hallucinations.
The cause that can lead to sleep paralysis are as follows;
1) Sleep Deprivation
2) Erratic Sleep Schedules
When a person is deprived of the normal sleep cycle, he/she is more likely to wake up in the middle of the REM stage. Usually, we are supposed to wake up at the end of the REM stage, but if we do not have a normal sleep cycle, the possibility of waking up in the middle of the REM stage increases. This is when sleep paralysis is most likely to happen.
3) Panic Disorder / Anxiety Disorder
4) Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
People with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or panic disorder have emotional disorders that can result in nightmares and insomnia, this increases the possibility of sleep paralysis.
6) Substance Abuse
People who takes medication or abuse of substances such drug, alcohol, can disturb a normal sleep cycle, thus this can prone to sleep paralysis.
Interesting Facts About Sleep Paralysis
In the past, before science could explain everything, it used to be believed that ghosts and demons caused sleep paralysis by pinning people down by sitting on their chest. However, these visions were mere hallucinations, a common symptom of sleep paralysis. In fact, most people who report seeing apparitions actually had sleep paralysis.
People also use different methods to shake themselves out of the episode. Some wiggle their toes while others cough. However, it is not possible to wake oneself up from an episode of sleep paralysis, until it passes.