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Our writer tries to find out why she keeps seeing pocong when she sleeps.

Retno Wulandari   10 May 2017 16:00

When sleep paralysis —locally known as “erep-erep”— strikes me, my body goes stiff. I can’t either move nor speak. Frightening hallucinations then takes place and they all seem real because I'm not sleeping at all.

During various sleep paralysis I've been through, I’ve seen many “paranormal events” such as a silver-bodied man entering my room and sat beside me, a pocong flying through my locked windows from outside and I can see his dark eyes, dirty shroud as if my room was stained with the cemetery’s red soil — and a creature revealing his arms, tried to reach me... In other chance, my bed moved all around the bedroom.

Several years ago, I experienced sleep paralysis almost every day. I would even know if this dissorder was about to come —it was like somebody was humming, and the entire circumstances started to change, as if I was switching into other realm. I was certainly in the same place, but like in different dimension. Several years ago it just stopped, and until know, I don’t know why — why it struck me at the first place and why it all ended.

During sleep paralysis, in addition to the inability to move or speak, one (including me) will experience many unexplained events, such as hearing imaginary voices, seeing supernatural creatures, a feeling of pressure on the chest, to breathing difficulties.

Apparently, erep-erep or sleep paralysis is nothing new in Indonesia, as well as in the rest of the world. According to a 1992 Gallup survey, almost all adults have experienced sleep paralysis at least once every two years. Attempts to learn further about it have taken place since the 1950s, but it was when researchers began to understand the relationship between REM (rapid eye movement) phenomenon with dreams, we can understand it more thoroughly and more scientifically.

Sleep paralysis is easily linked with ghosts or other paranormal phenomena, but researchers have found a scientific explanation for this well-known syndrome, and what causing it.

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When you’re asleep, your body will enter several stages. Among the major stages are the Non-REM (NREM) and REM.

In the first 80 minutes, you will enter the condition of NREM, followed by 10 minutes of REM. This 90-minute cycle recurs about three to six times a night. During NREM, your body is carrying out several unnoticed movements, and your eyeballs are also making minor movements.

According to director of the Center for Facial Pain and Sleep Medicine Steven Bender, sleep paralysis is an event when your brain tells your body that you’re still in REM stage, in which your limbs are paralyzed for a while, your heart rate and blood pressure increased and breathing becomes more difficult. In this stage of sleep, your most lucid dreams occur — explaining why those nerve-racking hallucinations take place.

Sleep paralysis differs from dreaming, considering the fact that your brain is awake. The brain hasn’t told the body just yet that the symptoms is coming.

“Someone is awake, but they have no control of their body and might possibly even see things that aren't there because their brain still thinks it's in REM sleep,” he said, as reported by Science Daily.

Sleep paralysis won’t last forever. In fact, in most cases, it only occurs for a couple of minutes and only occur when someone is falling asleep or waking up. However, when you’re experiencing sleep paralysis, you can have the experience of dreaming when being conscious and aware of your surroundings.

Well, that explains why I typically experienced this when I was wide awake.

While everyone is at risk of sleep paralysis, the major cause by far is genetics and sleep deprivation. People with mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety, may also have a greater chance to be exposed to sleep paralysis.

Some physical conditions, such as sleeping on one’s back, and napping, also raise the chance of sleep paralysis.

 

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