People who experience sleep paralysis usually claim that during an episode they encounter a demon-like creature, a sort of shadowy evil, vicious animals or evil entities. Therefore, most associate the occurrence with black magic, because it is a part of our culture to consider the superstitious belief that somebody has cast a satanic spell on them. Sleep paralysis is a scary and horrible condition that occurs while sleeping, in which one is in full or semi-conscious state, and is unable to move or speak for a few seconds up to a few minutes. It has two types: one is falling asleep and having an episode of sleep paralysis, known to be hypnagogic or predormital, while the other episode occurs when one is waking up from sleep, known to be hypnopompic or postdormital. Disruption in pattern of sleep cycle, lack of sleep (insomnia), abuse of stimulants, mental conditions, such as stress or bipolar disorder and use of certain medication are among the factors that cause sleep paralysis Why does the body got paralysed? During the night, our body goes through several cycles of sleep, and each cycle (i.e. approximately about 90 mins long) is composed of five stages. Every cycle is alternating between REM (Random Eye Movement) and NREM (Non Random Eye Movement). In REM sleep, brain activity increases, and this is the state where people experience dreams. During this time, our muscles get paralysed as a response to keep our bodies from acting out of dreams and potentially harming ourselves or our partners in bed. Sleep researches say that in most cases of sleep paralysis, it is a sign that your body is not moving smoothly through sleep stages. During an incidence of paralysis, people get panicked, anxious, and apprehensive, so these feelings leave a person in a very helpless or vulnerable condition. Causes of Sleep paralysis: Disruption in pattern of sleep cycle Lack of sleep (Insomnia) Abuse of stimulants Mental conditions, such as stress or bipolar disorder Use of certain medication Symptoms of other sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy or night-time leg cramps Sleeping on the back (back sleeping) Does sleep paralysis cause death? The answer is definitely no. The experience is itself scary and feels like you are being suffocated, but it does not get the best of you, and it can’t just randomly stop your heart. There have been cases of sudden death syndrome, but they are caused by other conditions. What measures should be taken to treat sleep paralysis? Sleep paralysis is extremely terrifying, but it is not harmful to your health. However, one can take the following measures which are more linked to poor sleeping habits, to make sure that he or she goes to sleep at the same time every night and wakes up at the proper time in the morning. Depression is also a cause of sleep cycle disruption, so antidepressants can help regulate sleep cycles and treat psychological issues as well as other sleeping disorders that contribute to sleep paralysis. The writer is a student of BSc. Psychology and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, May 30th 2018.