Thursday, June 4, 2009

Paralysis and Night Terrors


The topic of sleep paralysis and night terrors has recently been the main discussion between my blog and dreamstudies.org. I take great interest in this area because for a short time I experienced night terrors as well as sleep paralysis. Interesting enough I have found some helpful information into the field while I have been reading more of The New Science of Dreaming Volume 2.


I hope I don’t get into any copy write issues with posting this, but I found it important for others to know without reading an entire book:


“An acceleration of the firing rate of cholinergic arousal neurons in the brain stem leads to activation of the thalamus, and through the connectivity of the thalamus, to a further activation of perceptual and cognitive systems subserved by complex reciprocal thalamocrtical networks. Together with associated activity in the basal forebrain, this thalamic activation is akin to turning on the light in the cerebral cortex, allowing consciousness to emerge through the establishment of active and ready states of neural network functions.”


From my understanding , this is a good way of describing our conscious thought during the waking period of our lives. Our thalamus is very active during the waking periods of our lives and in results activates the cerebral cortex which in combo supports our consciousness allowing us to access our memories and other such functions.


It states later, “The thalamus shuts down very quickly at sleep onset and remains deactivated during the deeper states of NREM. It then is partially reactivated in stage 2 NREM and fully reactivated, in cholinergic terms, in REM, which we think may be an important clue as to why there can be dreaming in stage 2 NREM and REM.


This is pretty much self explanatory. So over all the thalamus allows for our conscious thought to materialize either in the dream world or the waking allowing us to either dream or perceive reality around us. In regards to sleep paralysis as well as night terrors, I would like to challenge that thought that these disorders are limited to only REM and stages 3, 4 of NREM. Since we know that during the NREM stage 2 of sleep it is possible to have conscious thought, if we had the ability to remember that dream, many aspects of that dream would seem out of place, since we are neither in REM. We may experience the onset of the paralysis induced by the pons (which many people that lucid dream experience), we may have vivid hallucinations that overcast reality and seem real (paralysis based hallucinations), and we may act out our dreams since in stage 2 of NREM the paralysis is not fully set as it is activated in the REM phase.


Based on the research available today, I think it’s imperative that we go back and conduct some of the older research that was done before with sleep paralysis and night terrors in order to confirm the stage or stages of sleep in which they exist and are experienced in large quintiles. I have a feeling we will find that these experiences tend to bleed over into other phases of sleep and that is why we have the standard (which may be wrong) today. For my personal opinion I believe that sleep paralysis is not limited to REM but is more apparent in the transition between NREM and REM when many of the different parts of the brain are modulating or demodulating. I also think that night terrors are not limited to NREM stage 3 and 4, but are more apparent in NREM stage 2 as the thalamus is active enough to produce hallucinations (dreams) unlike in stage 3, 4.


19 comments:

  1. I've been saving up for this book series... thanks for sharing. I think it may be easier than ever to do these studies based on the proliferation of home sleep disorder kits and meters which were originally designed to diagnosis sleep apnea without folks needing to be in a lab. on the other hand, the nice thing about SP is that if you have a prone individual you can have them come in to the lab sleep-deprived and have them sleep on their back... voila.

    another thought about brain states: many long SP accounts bleed into dream-like narratives that involve leaving the body and then going on journeys (beyond the confines of the room). for the dreamer, it is a long, continuous experience from paralysis and being in their room (eyes open, taking in visual information possibly) to the Dweller or Stranger, to the journey beyond. Sounds like, just as you suggest, a NREM transition back into REM, but with unusual mental clarity that is usually described in lucid dreams (except in this case, the dreamer "feels" he is awake.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ryan,

    Again thank you for posting your comment and also thanks for being the first to reply to a post on this new site. I must first warn you that the book series "The New Science of Dreaming" is one heck of a a dry read, but has a great deal of information in it. Once you get the chance to read them give them, please tell me what you think as it would be a good way for me to understand more of what I was reading.

    About what you said:


    "Another thought about brain states: many long SP accounts bleed into dream-like narratives that involve leaving the body and then going on journeys (beyond the confines of the room). for the dreamer, it is a long, continuous experience from paralysis and being in their room (eyes open, taking in visual information possibly) to the Dweller or Stranger, to the journey beyond."



    I have been a long time reader of a interesting website called Salt Cube where they talk about everything that you describe in order to obtain out of the body experiences. There tends to be a mechanism in all of us that that if activated in a specific way, we experience similar effects while going into this transitional REM phase. I have been meaning to study the correlations between the personal accounts of those who experience SP, NT, Lucid Dreaming, and OBE as they have common experiences such as a buzzing sounds or people talking, electricity and vibrations, the feelings of spinning and falling, along with the stranger (dweller). Many people who do psychedelics also have the same feelings but they are more interested in the visual effects and emotional effects rather than the uneasy feelings of strange transitions.

    I think in the next day or two ill try to find some of these correlations since its not to hard, they pop up all over the place as I have done reading and they are so common that it should be easy to find.

    Thanks again!

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