Focus-Science and Technology - - Sleep -

Sleep re­search could ex­plain the para­nor­mal. Some­one might de­scribe wak­ing up at night find­ing they are un­able to move, of­ten with a strong sense that some­thing, like an alien or de­mon, is present. Re­searchers have found that ‘sleep paral­y­sis’ might be an ex­pla­na­tion for these scary ex­pe­ri­ences. Dur­ing an episode of sleep paral­y­sis, we may wake up and open our eyes, but cer­tain nor­mal fea­tures of REM sleep – such as paral­y­sis and dreams – con­tinue. Suf­fer­ers of a con­di­tion known as ‘ex­plod­ing head syn­drome’ have also been known to at­tribute the ex­pe­ri­ence to the para­nor­mal. Ex­plod­ing head syn­drome typ­i­cally in­volves some­one hear­ing a loud noise just as they are fall­ing asleep. The most likely ex­pla­na­tion is that when we fall asleep a part of the brain called the retic­u­lar for­ma­tion in­hibits our abil­ity to hear, move and see. But in the case of ex­plod­ing head syn­drome, the au­di­tory neu­rons all fire up in­stead of shut­ting down, lead­ing to bang­ing noises.

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