Imagine you are just about to fall asleep, but you feel pressure on your chest. You sense a presence in the room you cannot move a muscle, but you can see your surroundings and are awake and alert this is sleep paralysis. It is momentary wakefulness, but a loss of voluntary muscle movement that occurs when you are just about to fall asleep or when you are just waking up from sleep.
It can last about 20 seconds to a few minutes.
8% of the general population is affected by it.
Emotions and sensations
when in sleep paralysis person experiences:
- awareness of surroundings but the inability to move.
- a sense of physical weight and pressure on the chest.
- Difficulty in breathing or choking.
- Hallucination is sensing a presence in an overwhelming sense of fear or dread.
Some people even describe hearing footsteps closer, seeing intruders, demons, or spirits. Feel as if they are about to die. Although there is no physical danger to the person experiencing sleep paralysis. They cannot themselves out of it and must wait for it to pass. Sleep paralysis is different from nightmares or night terrors the brain is awake, but the body is in its sleep state and thus cannot move. What is most interesting about sleep paralysis is that it dates back to the 10th century and is prevalent in all ethnicities.
Sleep paralysis in science:
Sleep paralysis happens when your body and brain don’t get in sync. when you sleep during a proper night’s sleep brain sends messages to the nervous system that it’s time to relax muscles. It is necessary so that the person doesn’t hurt himself if he happens to move around a whole lot while you are sleeping. This may potentially happen during rapid eye movement or REM sleep cycle when your brain is ready to wake up usually when you are not in the phase of REM sleep it gives an order to finish this self-induced paralysis. People who experience sleep paralysis wake up when they are still caught in the REM sleep cycle this is the reason why they are awake and mostly conscious but unable to move or speak, their muscles have not received important signals from the brain, that can let them move freely.
Difficulty in breathing:
People with sleep paralysis indeed have difficulties with their breathing but there is a perfectly scientific explanation for this sensation. In these cases you wake up at the wrong time, meaning your period of REM sleep is not over yet as a result your muscles are still asleep and this includes your chest muscles the only exception is your diaphragm this is why people have shortness of breath or think that something heavy is resting on their chest.
unable to speak:
Another thing about sleep paralysis is the inability to call for help this makes sense the muscles that control the mouth also fail to function. That’s why when the person tries to call for help it turns out that he can’t utter a single word. This is accompanied by a feeling of being choked because not enough air is getting into the lungs.
Hallucination can be spine-chilling. In sleep paralysis, a person is stuck between sleeping and being awake. The mind is alert, his eyes are open but the body is still unconscious, and if you think these are nightmares, well nightmarish imagine having one when your eyes are not closed, that’s exactly what happens to three-quarters of people who experience sleep paralysis, but these hallucinations are of different kinds, you might see horror movie creatures bending over your motionless frame. You might hear strange sounds or labored breathing behind your back to your dismay you can’t even turn your head to check it out.
What triggers sleep paralysis?
Following are the common causes of sleep paralysis:
Disturbed sleep patterns
Narcolepsy(a condition in which a person falls asleep suddenly)
PTSD post-traumatic stress disorder
Family history of sleep paralysis
Sleep paralysis in Islam
In Islam, it is believed that some kind of Jinn “Al Kaboos” descends on your chest and makes every part of your torso immobile and your screams are inaudible. Jin tends to strangle you in your sleep, you suffocate and something feels so heavy on your chest that it won’t let you breathe and then you immediately wake up trying to catch your breath.
If you are sleeping and you feel like you are suffocating and someone or something is pressing on you that does not allow you to breathe, and then you suddenly wake up trying to catch your breath, then you have been attacked by Jinn Al-Kaboos.
The Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) with regard to sleep are:
cleaning of bed sheets
Wudu before bed
Recitation of Surah Ikhlas, Falaq and Surah an-nas
recite subhanallah, alhamdulillah and allahu akbar thirty times
Sleeping on the right side
Recitation of Ayat-al-Kursi
Recitation of the last two verses of the Qur’an