Sleeping, while absolutely essential for our well-being, is kind of weird. It’s essentially humanity’s version of flipping a light switch off, and what happens during those hours of sheep counting can be pretty weird. Sometimes, straight up terrifying.
Sleep paralysis is one frightening situation some people are forced to deal with, and it can lead to serious anxiety every time the sun goes down. A woman from India named Ranita Roy actually documented her sleep paralysis episodes in a series of photographs that truly grasped the fear she felt.
We all look forward to that glorious moment of the day when we close our eyes, forget the stress of life, and drift off into the void of dreams. And, dreaming is one of the strangest parts of our existence.
Think about the most bizarre dream you’ve ever had. They don’t seem to make any sense. You spend all day in the real world and suddenly you’re asleep playing hopscotch with Harriet Tubman on Venus. How does that work?
Luicid dreaming is a bizarre feeling some people experience, as well. It’s when you actually become aware that you’re in a dream. You’re basically awake in your head, and it’s an insane sensation.
But, of course, dreams can also plunge down into a nightmarish hell. A horrific dream full of carnage and horror, even though it’s all in your head, can rattle you for hours after waking. But, something different happened to Ranita Roy.
Ranita is a photographer who grew up in Andul, India. Her interest in pictures started at age five when she tinkered around with her dad’s camera, snapping photos and watching in awe as the flash lit up a room.
Interestingly, she holds a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science as opposed to photography, but she still spends much of her time behind a lens. One of her standout collections has to do with the phenomenon of sleep paralysis.
It all started one night when Ranita awoke to an overwhelming feeling there was an intruder in her home. Although she couldn’t see anything, she literally felt the presence of another human nearby.
However, as scared as she was, her body was completely paralyzed. She wanted to jump out of bed and scream at whoever was walking around her home, but all she could do was stare in horror at the ceiling.
Ranita said of the experience, “It felt like I was drowning. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t see, but I could feel everything. It felt like someone was looking at me.”
After several minutes of panic, Ranita finally broke out of the paralysis and left the bed. Much to her relief, she realized the panic she felt was unfounded. Her home was empty, but the experience lingered.
The episode rattled Ranita’s core so much she found it nearly impossible to go to sleep afterward — she was so fearful it would happen again. So, she combated the dread through photography.
She researched sleep paralysis from several YouTube videos and began illustrating it as best she could through black and white photos. They had a haunting energy in them to say the least.
“I’m doing this work because I want people to understand it,” she said, “and when I tell people about it I don’t want them to feel pity for me. Many people experience this but they don’t want to share these things.”
When Ranita first told her family and close friends, they doubted her. She felt judgment and unfair opinions form, and she couldn’t just stay silent. Through her deep dive into the subject, she found fascinating information.
Apparently, sleep paralysis is super common among people who claim they had alien encounters or abductions. They feel frozen while the extraterrestrial beings interact with them. She also read Hindu culture had a much more sinister view of the phenomenon.
They believed it was the evil energy of a demon that prevented one from moving. This terrifying image is Ranita’s interpretation of what that sinister presence might look like. Of course, science has struggled to thoroughly explain the sensation.
Scientists know it occurs due to a disconnect between the brain and body during sleep, but the reason why hasn’t been pinpointed. The brain is so complex, but researchers hope to one day have an answer.
Ranita’s photos garnered so much attention she landed herself on Artpil’s 30 Under 30 Women Photographers 2018. She broached a subject uncommon in the photography world, and people praised her for it.
Funny enough, not long after she began illustrating her sleep paralysis via photos, the sensation came to a complete stop, and she never again experienced it. She found the coincidence quite odd.
Wexner Medical Center
As terrifying as the episodes were, Ranita strangely admitted to missing them at times. “It’s part of my life, and I want to better understand it,” she said. Now, while sleep paralysis remains a mystery, losing sleep due to anxiety isn’t.
Anxiety is one of the most common reasons people wake up at night. Adjusting to a new apartment or a new city are other common reasons. Sometimes it isn’t any of those things. The culprit could be something more sinister.
The body requires sleep in order to repair itself from daily wear and tear. It cycles through different stages of sleep on a schedule. In this way, we can connect various feelings and disruptions based on the time of day.
The ancient Chinese practice of Feng Shui pioneers this theory regarding the connection between time of day and what is going on in your body. There’s no need to become an expert in this school of thought to understand how it may benefit you.
Relating the principles of feng shui back to your sleep schedule can help you interpret the restless nights into an opportunity to increase your overall health. Your internal clock and the alarm clock by your bed are more in sync than you realize.
Normally people head off to bed sometime between 9 and 11 pm. These hours are connected to the thyroid, which is responsible for the endocrine system. If you have a hard time falling asleep, you may want to consider the health of your thyroid.
Between the hours of 11 pm to 1 am your gall bladder is getting stuff done. The gall bladder makes bile for digestion. If you find yourself up and bothered in this stage of sleep, your gall bladder is probably to blame.
Between 1 am and 3 am is when the liver rules. Waste is being processed through your body and possibly your mind, as feng shui associates this with negative emotions as well. You should get some therapy and drink less alcohol to stay asleep during those hours.
Lungs are critical, so, if you are waking up during the hours of 3 am and 5 am, you shouldn’t take it lightly. Chinese medicine closely connects the lungs with feelings of loss and sadness, so that may contribute the middle of the night restlessness.
Your body dedicates lots of time and energy to digestion. Between 5 and 7 am the large intestine is digesting food and clearing waste from your body. Waking up at this time could you’re holding on to emotional baggage.
It isn’t just what happens at night that’s affecting your body and your sleep, either. Looking at the processes your body is undergoing during the day can allow you to be more in touch with your health.
Between 7 and 11am, your stomach and spleen are the main concern. This is part of the reason why most people are hungry the moment they wake up. Don’t shy away from the most important meal of the day!
The afternoon can be tough. Many people complain of an afternoon slump between 1 and 4 pm. The heart and the small intestine are linked to this time of day. To combat the lull, try to get moving or eat a snack.
The bladder and kidneys are the focus of the evening between 4 and 7 pm. These organs are connected to resources both material and emotional. This is a great time to inventory your life and understand what you need.
Once your evening turns to late night, your phone should no longer be by your side. Exposing yourself to the blue light can confuse your brain and keep it awake when you want to go to sleep. Your TV and tablet do the same. If you have to use them, use them until only an hour before bedtime.
You may wonder what dictates your internal clock and if it can be changed or adjusted. Although it is important to pay attention to your circadian rhythm, the way your system operates is up to you. It is helpful to remember that you are in charge of your health.
Ensuring you practice healthy habits will increase your quality of life during both day and night. There are some key elements to consider when you’re making healthy, or unhealthy choices everyday.
The food you put into your body can really make or break so many of the systems discussed. Incorporating healthy fats, lean proteins, and tons of veggies will make sure your body is a fine-tuned machine 24 hours a day.
Mental health plays a monumental role in how your body is functioning. Practicing self-care and investing time in doing activities that create joy and a feeling of fulfillment will help ease your anxiety and stress. Spending time in nature and among friends is crucial as well.
A body at rest stays at rest. Which is a problem. Setting aside time to stretch or exercise can contribute to your mental and physical health. Having a good baseline of physical ability allows you to participate freely in most activities without getting injured.
Paying attention to the hints your body gives you will have you sleeping better in no time, and taking steps to live healthier will help with positivity and longetivity. You don’t just have to stick to feng shui either, there are other ways to get a good night’s rest.
The body clock isn’t an exact science. However, being conscious about the various systems that make you a functioning human being is a great step to understand why you are the way you are and may help you troubleshoot any health issues in the future.
Another way to get to a peaceful slumber quicker, is to turn down the lights in your room. You might prefer keeping a lamp on, but bright lights trick your brain into thinking it’s the wrong time of the day. Spend enough time in a dark room, and your body will start to get sleepy.
Cutting back on coffee sounds like a no-brainer. However, even if you aren’t drinking coffee before bedtime, the residual effects of caffeine can still alter the melatonin levels in your brain.
Cut back on alcohol at night. No matter how much you drink, imbibing liquor at night will decrease the quality of your sleep, lengthen the time it takes to get to sleep and increase the chances of sleep apnea.
Make sure you’re sharing the bed with someone you want to wake up to in the morning! If you’re sharing the bed with someone that makes you happy, you’ll sleep better. If you don’t… well, good luck.
Get yourself a good bedtime routine. We all know that going to sleep at different hours each night can throw off your circadian rhythms. If you go to sleep at the same time every night, you’re bound to have an easier time sleeping.
Keep your hands and feet warm. Heat escapes our limbs quickly. If you have a warm water bottle against your hands or feet — or a nice pair of socks — you’ll likely fall asleep a lot faster.
Actually try to stay awake. No, seriously! During one study, when subjects actively tried to stay awake, it improved the time they fell asleep. Fighting sleep is a battle you won’t win.
Draw yourself a nice, warm bath. The water will open your pores and relax your muscles, putting you in a much more laid-back mindset. Afterward, you’ll find yourself falling into a solemn slumber.
Flickr/Your Friend Le
Find inner peace. Sure, this is much easier said than done, but if you have thoughts racing through your head that won’t leave you alone, find a way to ignore them and look inward to a calm place that blocks out the noise.
Listening to classical music will help you relax and improve the quality of your sleep. The brain will continue to listen even after you’re snoozing. If you have a certain type of music that calms you down, that will work, too.
Lavender scents are known to help with deep sleep, and they’re wonderful to wake up to, according to several studies. Any time you stimulate your senses in a positive way, your body will naturally relax.
Discover what works for you. If, say, wiggling your big toes and counting backwards from one thousand gets you to sleep, don’t be afraid to try it. It may take some trial and error, but find what makes you sleepy and stick with it!