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2 mins

Sleep Paralysis: A Waking Nightmare

Sleep paralysis occurs when you awaken to find that you cannot move or speak. This experience can be so terrifying that many deem it a visit from demons.
by Melissa Kabakci | Jul 4 2016

Sleep paralysis occurs when you awaken to find that you cannot move or speak. This experience can be so terrifying that many deem it a visit from demons, known from East Asian cultures to European ones as “night hags.”

Not that fantastical creatures aren’t a good explanation for this phenomenon, but for those who prefer a more reality-based rundown, here’s what actually happens during a bout of sleep paralysis: your brain stem, which is responsible for regulating your sleep pattern, shuts your muscles down once you enter the REM phase, so that you don’t act on your dreams (clever brain!). Sometimes, however, it’s a little buggy—just like any other complex system—and forgets to unfreeze your body even though you’ve regained consciousness. This results in a few seconds, or sometimes minutes, of your mind feeling trapped in your own body.

Dive into the surprising world of the human brain with the blinks to The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons by Sam Kean.

THINK SMARTER
2 mins

Sleep Paralysis: A Waking Nightmare

Sleep paralysis occurs when you awaken to find that you cannot move or speak. This experience can be so terrifying that many deem it a visit from demons.
by Melissa Kabakci Jul 4 2016

Sleep paralysis occurs when you awaken to find that you cannot move or speak. This experience can be so terrifying that many deem it a visit from demons, known from East Asian cultures to European ones as “night hags.”

Not that fantastical creatures aren’t a good explanation for this phenomenon, but for those who prefer a more reality-based rundown, here’s what actually happens during a bout of sleep paralysis: your brain stem, which is responsible for regulating your sleep pattern, shuts your muscles down once you enter the REM phase, so that you don’t act on your dreams (clever brain!). Sometimes, however, it’s a little buggy—just like any other complex system—and forgets to unfreeze your body even though you’ve regained consciousness. This results in a few seconds, or sometimes minutes, of your mind feeling trapped in your own body.

Dive into the surprising world of the human brain with the blinks to The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons by Sam Kean.

ABOUT THE WRITER
Melissa Kabakci

As Content Marketing intern, Melissa is our resident authority on UTM links, Instagram and post-apocalyptic click-worthy questions. Currently based in Berlin, Melissa is pursuing a BA in International Business. She speaks fluent English, French, Turkish and dabbles in German. When not working at Blinkist, you can find her curled up in the sun reading Knausgård.

Melissa’s recommended read is What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith

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