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“Your body prepares for REM sleep by sending out hormones to effectively paralyze itself so that your arms and legs don’t act out the storyline you are creating in your head. This attempt at self-protection doesn’t always work perfectly, and when that happens, what follows is far from pleasant. Sometimes, it is the brain that doesn’t get the message. This can lead to waking up in the middle of the night with the frightening sensation that you can’t move your limbs. In the Middle Ages, this was thought to be a sign that a demon called an incubus was perched on the chest. Instead, this condition is simply a flaw in the sleep cycle, a wrong-footed step in the choreography of the brain’s functions that allows a person to become conscious when the body thinks the brain is still dreaming.
“At other times, the body doesn’t fully paralyze itself like it is supposed to. This is the root of a series of problems called parasomnias, of which sleepwalking … is by far the most mild. Patients with REM sleep disorder, for instance, sometimes jump out of a window or tackle their nightstand while they are acting out a dream. Some patients I spoke with who have this disorder have resorted to literally tying themselves to the bedpost each night out of the fear that they will accidentally commit suicide.” -David K. Randall, Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep
Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story, scene, or poem inspired by this information about dreaming.
Journaling Prompt: Write about a dream you once had. If you’ve ever experienced a parasomnia, write about that as well.
Art Prompt: Sleep disturbance
Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Write about sleep disturbances and how they affect you or someone you know.
Photo Credit: sammydavisdog on Flickr
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