Human Anatomy, Physiology, and Medicine. Anything human!
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REM atonia is a normal function of the body. The muscles that move the body are "turned off" during REM sleep, which prevents you from acting out dreamed actions in reality. Non-REM sleep paralysis after waking up ("old hag") is caused by a failure to re-activate the muscles immediately. Normally this condition lasts only a few seconds, but sometimes it can go for a minute, which causes a scary feeling. You are sure you're awake now but you can't move. This is unpleasant but not dangerous.
Some people can experience hallucinations while half awake but still paralysed. These usually involve figure/s in the room but maybe just a 'sensed presence' or a seeing/feeling that something is on top of your chest - the 'mare' in nightmare comes from a word which means "one who leaps on, oppresses or crushes"
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