Fight or Flight as a Way of Life

I’ve never bothered to get it diagnosed, but I’m pretty sure I’ve had insomnia for my entire life. It usually takes me an hour or more to fall asleep. It’s been such a persistent issue that I go to great lengths to manage it. My room is dark and cool at night, I wear earplugs, I dim the lights an hour before bed, I try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day, I try and fail to not use technology in the hour before bed, I do some stretching and light exercise before bed… And it sorta helps.

Anyway, I learned recently that having many sleepless nights can lead to anxiety relating to sleep (no surprise there). The body can then actually go into fight or flight as the person is trying to fall asleep. That anxiety affects the quality of sleep throughout the night. The person wakes up stressed and still tired. Continue reading Fight or Flight as a Way of Life

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Tonic Immobility

Trigger warning: sexual assault

Most people know that the body goes into “fight or flight” mode when in a dangerous and stressful situation. What many people don’t know is that there are more possible responses, one of which is to freeze. A person can literally be involuntarily, temporarily paralyzed with fear. This is called tonic immobility.

According to recent research, the majority of female rape survivors do not fight back or yell for help because of tonic immobility.  Another study found that half of people who survived childhood sexual abuse also experienced tonic immobility. Continue reading Tonic Immobility