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expository: sleep paralysis

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Expository - Sleep Paralysis In 1964, college student, David J. Hufford experienced his first encounter with the dreaded Night Crusher. Exhausted from a bout with mononucleosis and several hours of intense finals preparation, Hufford retreated to his room and collapsed into a deep sleep. He awoke an hour later to the echoing sounds of the bedroom door creaking open - the same door he had locked and bolted before going to bed. He heard footsteps sweeping toward him and felt what can only be described as a strong presence of evil. Terror gripped the young man in the pitched black night, as his eyes plastered open in fright, and his muscles became immobilized. Suddenly, without warning, Hufford felt the malevolent entity jump onto his chest, its oppressive weight compressing his rib cage. Breathing became difficult, and he felt a pair of hands encircle his neck and begin to squeeze unrelentingly. All of the sudden, the savage disappeared and Hufford regained the mobility of his muscles. A year after this terrifying experience, Hufford diagnosed himself with Sleep Paralysis. Now, more than 40 years after Hufford's initial discovery, the condition is beginning to attract intensive scientific attention. Sleep paralysis is a condition that occurs just before the individuals drifts to sleep (hypnagogic state) or just before awakening from sleep (hypnopompic state), a condition in which the individual realizes that she is unable to move or speak, but has full use of her senses and can still breathe and move her eyes. ...read more.


The second brain system, which controls the body's sensory and motor skills, is able to differentiate one's own body from others'. When REM activity stimulates this system, floating, flying, and falling sensations, outer-body experiences, and many other types of movement are experienced. In fact, other neural areas contribute to REM-dream imagery and also enhance the feeling of an evil presence by the extraction of personal and cultural knowledge. The condition's primary emotion, terror, sometimes yields to feelings of excitement, exhilaration, rapture, all of which are to some degree, stimulated by the convincing atmosphere. The compelling reality of the experience leads sleep paralysis to be singled out as an extremely plausible source to the claims and beliefs revolving around alien abductions, alternative realities, and otherworldly creatures. Accounts of space-alien encounters are extremely common during sleep paralysis and typically begin with the individual waking in the night while lying face up (a typical position in which sleep paralysis occurs.) The description many alien abductees use to describe their abduction experiences usually corresponds to the symptoms of sleep paralysis. In many accounts of alien abductions, the person cannot move but senses electric vibrations, and feelings of terror prevent them from breathing. Alien beings advance to the foot of the bed or climb on top of the person, who then experiences a sense of floating or envisions herself being transported to an alien craft. ...read more.


But could the cures for this torturous condition possibly venture near exorcisms? Although widely acknowledged among traditional cultures, sleep paralysis is one of the most prevalent yet least recognized mental phenomena for people in industrialized societies. In many accounts, people who have experienced sleep paralysis have been deemed, "mentally imbalanced" by scientists and physicians, as their accounts of the condition usually involves encounters with supernatural creatures and spirits, which are instinctively rejected concepts. Mainstream religions even condemn connections with ghosts, demons, and evil presences, leading to the suppressed number of reports on the experiences and the increasing acceptance of the scientific theories. However, the presence of a scientific explanation for these frightening episodes does not establish the reliability with absolute certainty. Although the researchers from the Japan University found a direct correlation with REM and sleep paralysis, this only goes so far as to confirm their hypothesis, providing a provisional truth, but not necessarily one that is absolute. Perhaps sleep paralysis truly leads certain individuals into something so innately evil, that even if they desired to adventure onwards, their minds would not let them as a result of unconsciously being conscious of this nemesis. With sensible scientific theories, along with the compelling consistency of experiences across cultures, one is left to decide whether these menacing episodes of sleep paralysis are nothing more than a disconnection with the brain, or whether these sleep sufferers are truly victims under the attack of otherworldly creatures. ...read more.

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