Why Sleep Paralysis Makes You See Ghosts

Sleep paralysis is a very unpleasant sensation that occurs when an individual becomes aware of themselves during the sleeping state. Despite this awareness, someone with sleep paralysis is unable to move their body. Below, we look at why sleep paralysis makes you see ghosts.

This condition is incredibly common and affects each individual who experiences it differently. One very strange element of this phenomenon is that many who experience sleep paralysis report seeing bizarre apparitions and phantoms during the experience.

Why Sleep Paralysis Makes You See Ghosts

If you’re someone who has had this experience before or are just interested in the sleep paralysis phenomenon, here is a summary explaining why many see phantoms during sleep paralysis.

The Sleep Paralysis Phenomenon

During sleep paralysis, an individual recovers limited awareness of their surroundings while they are asleep. This leads to their being unable to move their own sleeping body despite experiencing cognitive awareness.

Most people find this to be a very unpleasant experience. On top of this, many in the sleep paralysis state report experiencing many different bizarre experiences while in the sleep paralysis state.

Some examples include out-of-body experiences, seeing apparitions and phantoms, and experiencing malevolent “presences”. At the moment, these experiences remain largely unexplained, though science has developed theories surrounding them. This historically has led many cultures to attribute supernatural meaning to the sleep paralysis experience.

The Ghosts of Sleep Paralysis

One of the stranger elements of the sleep paralysis phenomenon is that the ghosts that people see while in this state seem to be fairly consistent. One example is that many individuals see “phantoms” that look like shapeless silhouettes with red eyes.

Many other individuals report experiencing apparitions sitting on their bodies as if these were the beings causing the sleep paralysis experienced by the patient.

Many other individuals experience the sensation of floating over their own bodies and watching themselves sleep. Overall, the consistency of the reported experiences has added weight to the mystery and speculation surrounding the phenomenon.

Neurochemistry Run Wild

Although the exact origin of the sleep paralysis ghosts remains in the air, science has honed in on several neuro-cognitive elements that might partially explain some of the elements of this strange phenomenon.

In terms of out-of-body experiences, the sensation might be attributed to the brain erroneously triggering the body’s fight-or-flight system. When these are met with a body that’s unable to move and can’t go anywhere, the neurons short circuit, creating bizarre audiovisual imagery.

In the case of seeing apparitions and phantoms, scientists speculate that the neurochemical fluctuations of your brain that occur while you sleep are responsible. Serotonin is an example of a chemical that the brain releases in order to wake you from a sleeping state.

However, during sleep paralysis, the brain may erroneously release this waking-state chemical into the brain while an individual is asleep. This in turn begins to trick the brain into thinking that it needs to fire off more waking-state chemicals. This has the potential to create strange distortions in one’s perceptions.

Scientists have also speculated that the creation of the faceless specters that haunt many sleep paralysis sufferers is due to some laziness on the part of the brain. The brain tries to assemble an image for what it falsely depicts as a threat. However, it does this with the bare minimum of effort, producing a faceless, formless apparition.

This phenomenon may have a more important clue to offer in terms of the internal logic of the brain. When the brain is able to expend less energy to compose a picture of a formless apparition rather than a complex image.

An Enduring Mystery

Although science has made progress in trying to identify some of the origins of this strange phenomenon, at the end of the day, there’s still quite a bit of mystery surrounding this bizarre phenomenon of sleep.

That being said, the hallucinations triggered during sleep paralysis seem to trigger the exact same neurochemistry that’s activated by psychedelic drug use. This seems to indicate a shared neurochemistry between these two phenomena.

At the end of the day, the interior workings of the mind and body are ever-unfolding mysteries that science still has a lot of work to do to fully uncover.

NYC’s Sleep Clinic of Merit

Sleep MD NYC is one of the city’s best centers for managing and developing healthy sleep habits. If you’re suffering from sleep paralysis regularly, contact sleep MD in order to set up an appointment and get talking about how to manage your sleep.

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