eli5: If people are paralyzed in their sleep, why do they roll around?

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eli5: If people are paralyzed in their sleep, why do they roll around?

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So, here’s the thing; your body and mind both should be in their sleep state simultaneously. If your body isn’t there, but your brain is, then you can move, sleepwalk, etc. However if your mind is awakened but your body hasn’t, that’s called “sleep paralysis.” Also know as a witch riding your back, devil riding your back, tons of phrases. Basically it’s when you’re awake but you just can’t move, usually accompanied by the feeling of pressure on your back or chest (hence the names).

We are not paralysed in every sleep stage necissarily.

For instance we know the more vivid dreams happen in REM sleep, where we are typically paralysed.which typically happens later in the night.. an early REM sleep cycle is even a good indicator of depression because usually all this waking up with sleep paralysis stuff happens in early rem sleep or in otherwhise disrupted sleep so something clearly goes wrong there turns out…

So considering we know waking up has to do with that cortisol spike, which is a stress hormone.. one of the leading theories why we wake up while paralysed even is a stressed and disrupted body.. we are not even supposed to wake up in the phases we are paralysed basically.. which checks out considering you basically mess up your sleep quality if you wake up mid REM phase… as we know nowadays that sleep phase is more or less the saving data phase and therapeutic phase of sleep. While deep sleep is more repairative and cleansing… like our brain quite Literally re plays neurons firing of stuff we did. It basically mentally learns and reinforces firing patterns in this phase.. which is why sleep is important to learn stuff.

We also wake up occasionally. Not every sleep phase is equally deep.. sometimes even between every sleep phase, which is roughly every 30-90 minutes.

So one of the reasons we even know we get paralysed in our sleep is exactly when this system is disrupted so hard stuff goes wrong with it.

In REM sleep (called REM due to the rapid eye movements you get there) your brain is actually more active at times than when awake. So presumably this paralysis is a measure to make sure you won’t act out on movements and such…would make sense for the body to do this because we know REM sleep dreams are more vivid because these dreams tend to be more emotional… so naturally your brain would want to block the center brain regions (which handle steering your body alongside the emotional response) from acting out.. because this system is literally super active there….some even compared REM sleep to therapy because it does have certain structural similarities in behaviour to a brain in therapy or even on Ketamine treatment. Which makes emotions more easily detachable from traumatic events. So it is literally “natural therapy and sorting out emotions” for our brain. So no wonder it would paralyse us during this super active phase.