The recent suicide attempt at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) by a medical student has got many individuals pondering over several issues including sleep paralysis.
In what is alleged to be a death note belonging to the said student, one of the factors that pushed him to take his own life was sleep paralysis.
Per reports, the male student had suffered from sleep paralysis for a biennium.
📍📍BREAKING NEWS 📍📍— 𝐕𝐨𝐢𝐜𝐞 𝐎𝐟 𝐊𝐧𝐮𝐬𝐭 (@VOICE_of_KNUST) July 4, 2023
A male student of KNUST attempted to commit suicide at the Brunie Complex. The student has been saved and well.
The actual cause of the attempt is yet unknown 💔💔 pic.twitter.com/D92GBxH6r4
Sleep paralysis occurs when a person wakes up but is temporarily unable to move.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, it is a horrific situation as one perceives the presence of another in the space he or she finds him or herself. Most often, the indication is that one is out to harm you while you are unable to move to save oneself.
Sleep disorder specialist Alicia Roth, PhD says “this happens when there’s a malfunction between REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and wakefulness.”
Per the recent case, the reason for this article, the KNUST student, per the death note, allegedly revealed that he encountered demons.
“I’ve been seeing demons and actually heard one speak. I’m so sane and I know a lot of people are gonna think I’m making it up but screw it. I’m probably not alive by now.”
“Stupid boy” – the demon’s exact words were.
This information is imperative as it is speculated that sleep paralysis is caused by demonic attacks, hence the name “sleep demons”.
Research has described some of these “attacks” as a shapeless presence trying to suffocate them.
This is what scientists have to say about the phenomenon.
Dr. Raj Dasgupta who completed his residency serving Internal Medicine at Michigan State subscribes to the assertion that the phenomenon of seeing something demon-like while experiencing sleep paralysis is real.
Such a condition is termed as hypnagogic or hypnopompic hallucination.
In one of its articles, Healthline reveals that vivid dream-like experiences, referred to as hypnagogic or hypnopompic hallucinations, can seem real and are often frightening.
They may be mistaken for nightmares, and they can occur while you’re falling asleep (hypnagogic) or waking up (hypnopompic).
“During these hallucinations, you may see scary people or creatures near you or even lying in your bed. And they’re often accompanied by sleep paralysis.
These hallucinations can happen if you’re partially conscious during the rapid eye movement (REM) cycle of sleep. In that state, you’re looking at the real world but also dreaming — the prefect recipe for seeing things that aren’t really there.”
There is also the instance of one seeing a distortion of something that really is there.
For instance, the pile of clothes on a chair could turn into a person sitting there watching you sleep.
In Dr. Roth’s view, the “demonic” perception has more to do with the history of one’s culture and the ways in which such events have been interpreted.
Causes of sleep paralysis
Sleep paralysis is said to be a symptom of narcolepsy – a neurological disorder that can affect the brain’s control of sleep and wakefulness.
According to Dr. Roth, this includes periods of excessive daytime sleepiness and even instances in which a person has no control over falling asleep, even in the middle of the day or an activity.
Stress is categorised as an indirect cause. Dr Roth notes that stress can play a factor in disrupting your sleep.
Though sleep paralysis can be traumatizing, research indicates that it is not dangerous to one’s health.