What is sleep paralysis? What causes it? Is it dangerous? Sleep paralysis may sound terrifying, but it’s actually a normal function of our bodies that is meant to keep us from harming ourselves.
So, what is it? Sleep paralysis is noticeable when a person is just falling asleep or waking up. Often, the person is aware but is unable to move or speak. Sometimes hallucinations can occur, which can cause someone to hear or feel things that aren’t there. During sleep paralysis the muscles aren’t really paralyzed but are relaxed to the point of paralysis. This is to keep the body from acting out different actions while dreaming. If sleep paralysis didn’t occur, you could find yourself trying to swim in your bed or attempting to skip or run.
There are two things that are believed to cause sleep paralysis. The two chemicals in our brains that are responsible are glycine and GABA. Scientists believe they cause the muscles relaxing to the point of paralysis.
As for if sleep paralysis is dangerous or not, for the most part, it isn’t. While it does keep us from punching or kicking a spouse out of bed during a violent dream, sleep paralysis can cause high levels of anxiety in some. As with many things, more research is needed to fully understand everything sleep paralysis can do. For now though, may your brain keep you from acting out those action packed dreams. Sweet dreams, everyone!