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The Science and Culture behind Sleep Paralysis

Updated: Jun 18, 2021

Author: Patrick Lin Editor: Lydia Ren

Artist: Doris Tan

Paralysis is a normal occurrence during the sleep cycle. Although we are paralyzed every night when we go to sleep, we rarely experience the feeling of paralysis during our sleep. Sleep paralysis is the state in which a person has awareness but is still unable to move. It is characterized by unusual behavior or abnormal physiological events and episodes are generally accompanied by anxiety, inability to perform voluntary tasks, and sometimes, fear of death.

One hypothesized cause of sleep paralysis is abruptly going in and out of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. REM sleep is often associated with the stage in which animals dream during sleep. REM s