Friday, February 20, 2009

Question of the Week: Sleep Paralysis and Bad Dreams

I looked it up and deleted my question but now I have tried to sleep 3 times tonight and each time it ends up being negative and now i really don't want to sleep. The first time it was me pulling out of a street and i guess it was slick so we spun and almost got into some sort of accident, i was half awake and couldn't move.
2nd time, don't remember what I dream about but in the dream i tried to wake myself up by throwing myself against the wall (still in my room in the dream)
3rd time, don't remember what happened but i was thrown against a wall so i could fit through a door into a bathroom, as of now I'm not going to bed seeing as its going to continue happening. I'm going to wait until my mom wakes up and talk to her.

What you are experiencing is not really sleep paralysis per say. In sleep paralysis the person experiencing the effects are normally “awake” but unable to move while sometimes experiencing an overlay of dreams into real life (waking). What you are experiencing sounds more like a different event that really doesn’t have a name by science. Sometimes people misunderstand these symptoms and write down the wrong information, even in websites claiming to do research on the topics.

So what is wrong with you? Probably nothing is “wrong” with you. What you are experiencing is being aware while you transition from non-REM to REM sleep. This means that you are simi awake while you start to dream. During the process of normal sleep (if everything is working right), parts of your brain actually shut down, as well as different parts of your brain wake up. One of the areas of your brain that starts up is your amygdale, or the area of your brain that controls fear. If you remember this phase you may experience terrible dreams. Another part of your brain that shuts down is your long-term memory (prefrontal cortex, forebrain) and so you may not remember your dreams. The last area of your brain that I will talk about is your brainstem. The brainstem controls all these other things but it also partially paralysis our bodies so that we don’t move during sleep as well as get much input from the outside world. If you experience this phase you may not be able to move.

What you are experiencing is our bodies not always being a perfect system. Sometimes we miss a phase, or sometimes we remember events happening. All these events are normal events, but no one truly knows why they happen or why we dream. Even the most recent research still doesn’t answer some of the most basic questions about sleep.

To help you:
The best things I can tell you is to get good rest, go to bed at the same time every night, don’t sleep with any type of light in the room. Don’t eat sugar or drink coffee hours before going to bed, eat well whenever you can, and be active. All those things can have a good impact on your life as well as your sleep and sleep is very important to having a full life. If you are young, most people grow out of experiencing these things as our body becomes better at maintaining hormones and chemicals that control how we sleep. I know it’s scary because I experienced them too but with a change in diet, they have a good chance of going away.


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