An Inside Account of Sleep Paralysis


Picture it: you’re in bed at night, when suddenly, your body wakes up.  However what’s different this time is that you’re unable to move, with the exception of your eyes.  You can’t talk, unable to call for help.  You might see a figure approach you, a faceless man in black.  He has claws like Edward Scissorhands and he’s moving closer.  Your heart is racing, and you’re not sure what’s going on.

This is sleep paralysis.

Southern Miss Nursing student Blake Meranto describes his first experience with sleep paralysis, which started when he began high school.  He said he was unaware of what this affliction was, or that it even happened to other people, until he started college.  Now a university student, his sleep paralysis has faded into a distant memory rather than a regular occurrence, but the memories are still frightening.

Meranto says that he can usually tell when he’s going to dive into sleep paralysis when the lamp light in his room begins to dim, so then he knows to convulse his body as to not go into sleep paralysis.  He describes this as a “tell” that lets him know what’s about to happen. In learning this, he hasn’t experienced a true sleep paralysis in quite a while.

So why do people such as Blake experience sleep paralysis?  The American Sleep Association reports that during REM sleep, your muscles are relaxed, but when this is disturbed, sleep paralysis takes place.  It is also commonly linked to mental health problems, which may be a genetic case – if someone in your family experiences sleep paralysis, your chances for experiencing it are higher.  If you’re not doing well mentally, these chances also go up.  Sleep paralysis is also linked to sleep deprivation, which can be a single incidence or can continue, based on whether or not sleeping patterns improve.

Meranto reports that when he was having mental health troubles in high school, that’s when his sleep paralysis began.  Now that he is doing better, he hasn’t experienced it in a while.

Sleep paralysis can last from a few seconds to several minutes.  Some people see shadows or creatures, and others don’t.  Sleep paralysis heightens the body’s response to anxiety, because it is terrifying not to be able to move, which may explain why people see these creatures.

Those with sleep paralysis often report that they feel like something is sitting on their chest, and they are unable to breathe or move.  This is also common.  This is how Blake Meranto feels, which he describes as utterly terrifying..

The best thing to do when experiencing sleep paralysis is to talk to your doctor.  You may have to go into a sleep study, but in dealing with sleep paralysis, this may be best.

What Meranto faces is a common occurrence, but it is still is a terrifying experience nonetheless.  You never get used to it, he says, but you sometimes learn “tells” of when it’s going to happen, which can limit these experiences.


Soft, Calming Songs for a Stressful Week

If you did not know, I am a student in university.  As you can imagine, this gets quite stressful, especially with finals week coming up next week. If you find yourself feeling extra anxious, as I am, fear not! I have compiled a list (conveniently assorted on Spotify), for feelings of calmness and serenity during these trying times.


Top Songs

My personal favorites included are:

  1. Wanna Know – Idealism
    My favorite instrumental band covered The Arctic Monkeys hit “Do I Wanna Know?” and put their own spin on it.  It’s completely wonderful and is best listened to while it’s raining.
  2. Bloom – The Paper Kites
    This is a acoustic masterpiece that will get stuck in your head.  Best listened to while drinking coffee, pondering life and love.
  3. Sleep Apnea – Beach Fossils
    This song makes me a bit sad but I love the calming instrumentals as well as the soothing vocals.  10/10 would recommend falling asleep to this song.
  4. 6/10 – Dodie
    Dodie Clark is a YouTuber, where she posts original songs as well as covers.  6/10 is a song about feeling not good enough, and it leaves the listener with a sense of melancholy.
  5. Big Jet Plane – Angus & Julia Stone
    I used to listen to this song a lot in middle school, and I still love it to this day.  Big Jet Plane is timeless, best listened to while contemplating life.

If you’re preparing for final exams, I hope these songs help you study! Let me know if you have any suggestions to add to the list!


– Marissa

Fake News: A Final Reflection

Fake news is:

I’ve always advocated for fact-checking as well as not trusting every single thing read on the Internet.  Mainly because people post satirical articles without knowing that they’re satire and then run with it, but in today’s new age of media, now than ever I urge you to check where your information came from if you suspect it’s outrageous.

Being as someone who wants to have a career in the media and news in particular, I’m not weary of everyday news.  If your local reporter tells you about something, I’d trust him/her.  However, if you come across some off-the-wall website saying that Pope Francis is dead, or something that sounds like a conspiracy theory, I’d again, check your sources.

That’s what I will leave you with: some advice and a little summary of my experience in my media writing course.

I liked this class.  It wasn’t stressful and it made me think about media criticism and how a lot of it is just ill-informed.  I also got to learn about broadcasting, which is something I didn’t know anything about.  I think that broadcasting would be the most fun career in media, but it also sounds the most hectic.  I changed my major during the course of this class and I’d like to say that decision was influenced by learning about media careers and what I don’t want to do.  All in all, I gained a newfound respect for people in all positions in the media and I enjoyed the time I spent in Media Writing.  However, I still strongly advocate for the usage of the Oxford comma, no matter what the AP Stylebook says.


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Social Media as a Communication Tool

Social media is an incredibly useful tool for brands, but not just for marketing purposes.  Twitter can be used for customer support, which is commonly seen when people send complaints to brands and the brand responds with help.

Specifically, this is seen time and time again with airlines.  American Airlines solved this customer’s problem solely through Twitter.  This is quite convenient and increases customer loyalty.

Good for the brand, good for the business and good for the customer.

Aside from being generally helpful for customers, brands communicating through social media can be fun for both the customer and the business.  Colourpop (a makeup brand) uses their Twitter to interact with customers, consistently asking them for their opinion on product names, colors, and what they should come out with next!

Having a brand outreach on social media is what sets companies apart and keeps the customer involved as an active participant.  It makes the customer feel appreciated and helps them decide if they want to do business with them again. It’s also a fun way to communicate all-around and should be utilized more.


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Creating and Maintaining a Professional Brand

In the age of digital media, it is incredibly important to have a professional appearance across all social media platforms.  Time and time again, countless people have lost his/her job due to their online presence.

I personally have no problem with this.  Personal media presence is a vital aspect of who a person is.  It’s their brand: it’s representative of both personal values and the degree of professionalism that can be brought to a job.

Personal brand can be used for good.   Especially in media jobs, having a high following and compelling tweets can be what sets candidates apart. Being exceptionally skilled at social media can be put on a resumé and it can even lead to a career running social media outlets.

The problem is finding and creating your own personal brand and maintaining it.  Personally, I think my personal social media accounts are very reflective of myself as a person.  They reflect my values as well as things that I am passionate about.

Creating your brand is all about who you are as a person.

To curate your own personal Brand, you need to first find out what you’re good at and what makes you stand out as a person.  Showcase that.  Show off your skills and keep learning to improve those you are not as good at.  Become well-rounded to make yourself more appealing to a client/company.

Utilize your social media platforms as a professional, yet reflective version of yourself!  Creating a logo is also a good start.  That way it can be placed all around your social media pages as well as on your resumé to be cohesive.  If you’re not great at graphic design, commission a student designer or watch YouTube videos on how to create a basic logo.

Become an expert on yourself and what you can bring to the table.  Perfect your elevator pitch (15 seconds worth of information on who you are, what you’re doing, and what you want to do).  This is highly important in networking events as you want to make yourself memorable and appealing.

Creating a personal brand doesn’t happen overnight.  Your personal brand will be constantly evolving as your skillsets and experiences grow, but starting now can make the world of a difference.

Broadcast Versus Print

Generally, when I am interested in something, I want to know the full story.  I’m not the type of person who can be satisfied with only reading headlines or only knowing 15-second soundbites worth of information.

I understand broadcast journalism is beneficial and more acclimated to appeal to audiences with just the facts and what needs to be told.  Nothing more, nothing less.  However, I don’t want that.

I want the full story.  I want to know everything.  That’s not available with broadcast journalism.  Broadcasting is directed towards a need-to-know basis of information.  Print journalism is the opposite.  Print media has always been my favorite type of way to get information.  This is why I really love investigative journalism as well.  I love people who are dedicated to telling the full-on story, no matter how long it takes.

Although print media can be bad for the environment through means of a wide use of paper, there are alternatives such as being available online.  Many newspapers such as the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal are converging to online media as well.  The necessary information is still available, just in a different format.

Although broadcast journalism is more entertaining and I wildly respect broadcast journalists, I will continue to be a dedicated supporter of print media..

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Freelance Journalists in War Conflict Zones

The true passion in journalism lies in the effort to do whatever it takes and go wherever needed to tell a story.  Journalism can be an incredibly dangerous career, especially when in war conflict zones.  More often than not, freelance journalists are the ones who are traveling to places like Syria in order to get the story in hopes of turning a profit and telling a story that so desperately needs to be told.

There are many problems with reporting in conflict zones, and these are increased when freelancers decide to risk their lives and travel by themselves to war sites.  For instance,  even before arriving, many represented journalists receive training.   More often than not, freelancers forgo training because it is too expensive.  This puts the journalists highly at risk. Nearly half of the 72 journalists covering Syria who were murdered were freelancers.

Other problems associated with freelancing in conflict zones are that they receive little pay due to outsourcing and finding insurance is incredibly tricky.   These journalists have no cultural understanding of the climate of which they are in and this is highly dangerous.

Ultimately, there needs to be a push for better protections and training for freelancers in conflict zones.  This should not be taken lightly.

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