The Return of Sleep Paralysis

A while ago, I had written a poem about a sleep condition that I have on and off, sleep paralysis – a sensation where you feel like you are awake, and there is something or someone in the room with you that you fear, but your body and voice is paralyzed, so you are unable to escape or defend yourself. It has to do with the how the brain paralyzes your body while you are dreaming to prevent you from physically acting out your dreams, but sometimes doesn’t release the paralysis when you are awaking, or starts it too early when you are falling asleep. You then find yourself in a familiar place, like your bedroom or another area in your house, awake but not safe.

It has been awhile since I experienced it, but it has now resurfaced with a vengeance. One night in particular I had three episodes of it. Over the past few nights, there were two memorable episodes. The first felt like I woke up to the flash of a camera. Someone that I couldn’t see but I knew was there standing at the foot of our bed had just taken a picture of us, and I was certain that their next move was to kill us. I truly believed we were about to be murdered. In the second one, I awoke and was looking at the bedroom window. Through the blinds, I saw a figure in a baseball hat trying to pry the window open. Fortunately, my fiancé has been my knight in shining armor every time it happened, waking me up when I started twitching or making weird sounds, and then calming me down so I can go back to sleep, which is a difficult task considering I wake up in a mild panic attack.

So for those of you who have experienced this, here are a few things I have noticed that have coincided with the return of this for me, along with the ways out of it.

  • Watching creepy movies is a definite trigger. I like scary, horror, thriller movies, and the return of my sleep paralysis came after the nights when I watched House of Wax, Taken, and Seven.
  • One of the things I want to do most is try to move, hoping to get my mate’s attention, but the most movement that is noticeable no matter what I’m doing in my mind is twitching. What does work is trying to make a sound. It may not come out as loud as I want it, but it is more likely to get my rescuer’s attention. And in the past, when I was sleeping alone, the noise I made would sometimes snap me out of it.
  • Contrary to the things I have read, sleeping on my back is not always the culprit. My last several episodes happened when I was sleeping on my side.
  • There have been occasions when I realize I am going into a sleep paralysis hallucination as I’m falling asleep. It feels somewhat like I’m slipping into a black hole, almost like I’m forcibly being put to sleep. When I realize this, I focus on seeing a particular person, like my fiancé, someone I know wouldn’t hurt me so I wouldn’t have to fear him in my dreamlike state. It’s hard to do after I’ve had a recent episode the same night, as I’m already scared of falling asleep again in the first place. But sometimes, it works, and I pass that phase and fall into regular dreams again.

The following are some videos about sleep paralysis – what it is, and even how to learn to take control of the experience (including use of lucid dreaming techniques), something I will definitely work on if I continue having these experiences. If you experience sleep paralysis, or just find this interesting, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Comments

  1. says

    Gosh, Kristi that sounds scary! I’m glad your fiance is calm and helpful. When I was a kid, I used to sleep walk. But I haven’t done that in many, many years.

    Debbies last blog post..Book Lover

  2. says

    That sounds like something straight out of a horror movie! I’ve always avoided watching or reading anything that’s too scary after midnight, but I’ve never enjoyed the horror genre. Sleep paralysis sounds especially frightening because you lose control of your own mind & body, nothing is more terrifying.

    Sandra Foyts last blog post..Home Schooling The Networked Student

  3. says

    I used to practice some breathing techniques that would make my body feel as though it was frozen, or stuck into a certain position. I don’t know how much of it was stuck really, because all I had to do was move…but that same feeling was there I suspect.

    I’ve heard that if you demand the aggressor of your dream give you a present (yes, as in wrapping and a bow, all that), something magical will happen. Seriously, it’s supposed to be magical and quite wonderful. I read that somewhere when I was all into lucid dreaming.

    Waynes last blog post..The Entrecard 10,000 EC Credit Giveaway Contest

  4. says

    @Sire: I am very lucky. If he didn’t comfort me back to sleep, I would have probably had a new bout of insomnia after those episodes.

    @Debbie: Sleepwalking can be quite dangerous. Glad to hear that it has gone away.

    @Aminhers: You’re welcome. Glad you found it informative.

    @Sandra: It’s like having no control of your body, but your mind feels awake and alert to what is going on, even though it isn’t real. It is quite scary.

    @Gennaro: I’ve been skipping horror movies for the last few days, and there have been no new episodes. But I’m kinda in the mood to watch that movie Quarantine. I’m sure that won’t be good for me. :)

    @Wayne: Demand them giving me a present. I’ll really focus on remembering that the next time and see what happens. Supposedly, if you gain control of the sleep paralysis, it lets you have some amazing out of body experiences.

  5. says

    Hi Kristi

    I have to say I know the feeling. It has only happened a few very rare times in my life and with no correlation to anything scary as I do not watch any scary/thriller or similarly dramatic shows or movies.

    The times I can remember was during naps in the middle of the day, and once or twice at night, in which case, yes my husband awoke me too as he noticed my discomfort. But the dreams were not scary but uncomfortable from what I remember.

    I had an interest in lucid dreaming too as I have really, really neat dreams, but have not yet had the time to look into it more.

    Evitas last blog post..Rising To Your Destiny

  6. says

    Just speaking about it like this can cause you to remember while your dreaming. I find the more I talk about it, and the more it’s part of my everyday thoughts, the more likely I’ll be to remember my dreams in the morning.

    I believe that can be extended even further, with practice, to cause you to become awake in your dream.

    Man this is bringing back some memories. A dream journal is a great aid too, if not a must have. Good luck, keep us updated!

    Waynes last blog post..The Entrecard 10,000 EC Credit Giveaway Contest

  7. says

    @Evita: I haven’t looked into the lucid dreaming, but I attempted taking control of my last episode… I can’t repeat any of the words I slung at my tormentor, but it seemed to work, and I didn’t wake up as scared as usual. One point for me against sleep paralysis.

    @Wayne: It’s true. The more you talk about dreams, the more aware that you are when you’re in them. It’s a strange experience, realizing that there are some things in dreams that are controllable. Like I can always, always get into a vehicle and drive away in a dream, no matter if it is mine, or if there are keys, or not.

  8. Brian says

    Hey man i get these dreams alot almost 1 or 2 times a month. I find i especially get them after a night of partieng because after i drink i wake up really anxious and have minor panic attacks wich adds to the nightmare. Where i was born Colombia what people say about this is 2 main things which are that when we have these dreams its usually from a bad spirit or witches messing wit u,or it can be your soul trieng to leave your body thats why we feel paralyzed because our soul is not in our body to move it, but yea just wanted to let you know what they say man i hope these dreams go away and stop bothering us because they are really frightening well GL.

  9. says

    @Brian: I think writing about the experience helps… I haven’t had an episode since writing this article. I like the theory of the soul leaving the body for a short time. Maybe it channels what it sees into our minds… something that is out of this world.

  10. says

    I also have been suffering with Sleep Paralysis. Mine started when I was around 16 years old.

    Even though I’ve known about the condition for years, I haven’t done any real in-depth research into what the causes for me may be. I’m just now starting to examine the links between sleep paralysis episodes and my life/environment/body.

    My sister, father, and father’s mother, all have had sleep paralysis episodes. Perhaps it’s hereditary and life/environment/body don’t play a huge role in the occurrence of sleep paralysis episodes.

    Thanks for writing your article.

    Aimees last blog post..Exploding Head Syndrome

  11. says

    @Aimee: I never thought about it be hereditary. That is an interesting concept. I just visited your site, and it looks to be a good stop for sleep disorder information. I found Exploding Head Syndrome particularly interesting, as I’ve had that happen before with the loud noises, but never knew there was a specific condition name for it.

  12. says

    @Kristi (and anyone else that is interested), I came across a research study that is being conducted at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, Division of Sleep Medicine. The research study is on Familial Sleep Paralysis. They’re currently looking for participants who have sleep paralysis and family members with sleep paralysis. There is a link on my blog or you can go to: http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/sleepmed/SleepClinicalTrials.html

    Maybe the results of this research will help.

    Aimees last blog post..Undercover Research

  13. says

    @Aimee: Thanks for the link. I don’t know that anyone else in my family suffers from it, that I know of at least. But hopefully, they will find out interesting things from the research.

  14. says

    I’ve noticed this happens to me alot if im really sleepy or if i’ve had to much sleep. I found that when i fall into this paralysis if i push myself up with my mind, im able to get out of it.

  15. andy says

    the had that **** last night been having it this kinda problem for few years now all i know is that when i feel that my brain is falling into blackhole if i still dont move my body my body will be Paralysis. i never saw any black shadows or anything like that but i believe there has something to do with ghost cuz everytime i got Paralysis i use my full Strange to regain control of my body and as soon as i got control of my body i grab the crystal i always wear and it wrong happen again always forgot to wear it when i go to sleep !! lol

  16. andy says

    im not sure how to prevent nightmares but Crystal sure helped me alot from paralysis go to google type in Crystal bagua and thats the one i had is not that big

  17. Chrissy says

    This happened to me a lot as a child. I remember sleeping over a friends house, next to her in the bottom bunk because we were kids and at the time, I didn’t like sleeping alone (I also had lots of horrifying nightmares growing up, I’d sleep walk, and I’m fairly certain I suffered night terrors, it was pretty unpleasant), and I recall waking up and being paralyzed. I had no idea at the time, being 9 I think, what sleep paralysis was and I actually thought something horrible had happened to me, like a stroke or something, that I was somehow paralyzed but I thought it was permanent. I tried to yell out, I was terrified, and I felt so scared. I was trapped in myself. And that’s horrifying at any age, but as a little kid? It was awful. I do remember that first time it happened that I kept “calling out” for help, though no words came out and my mouth didn’t open, until I managed a barely audible whisper. I still kept trying until I was able to talk and move again and there was comfort and relief that whatever just happened was over and only temporary, but still, it’s such a horrible experience. So I completely commiserate with you over it. People who haven’t experienced it have no idea how horrible it is. I actually think that was my first truly horrible experience with it, though I’m positive that it happened once before but it luckily was brief and I fell into sleep soon after. The real first time, I was falling asleep and I saw a ragged, shadowy, ghost like image in my doorway that approached me and my eyes closed and I fell asleep. That second awful time it was a waking up hallucination that was entirely ominous and upsetting. Anyone can have this, but I think that there’s a higher incidence among those of us who suffer other sleep issues, like nightmares and night terrors and sleep walking. I’m glad you’ve been able to get the attention of your fiance to help you wake up, but even if you’re with someone, right next to them, it’s such an effort to get their attention. I’ve literally felt like I’ve been screaming in my mind and my mouth barely moves at all. Hopefully science will figure out the real culprit instead of just attributing it to sleeping position since that’s not always the case (the lying on the back thing, because often times I sleep on my side). Maybe we’ll be able to stave off recurrences or at least end them sooner so as to diminish some of the trauma they cause. Because it can be debilitating fearing going to sleep. You need sleep and it feels good to sleep when all goes well, but the anxiety that you’ll be paralyzed is so overwhelming at times that it does make sleep daunting at times. I luckily haven’t had a relapse in a bit, but I’m always prepared that I will. Sometimes I’ve had issues where I sort of have gone into a bout of sleep paralysis but luckily I fall asleep soon after and it’s ok, or I wake up and it’s ok. Such a creepy thing. Thanks for the post. :)

  18. larabeth rouse says

    hey thank god i read your story last night i went to see paranormal activity which left me extremely freaked out and came home about 1 am so i slept on da couch with my daughter at 4 am i heard my dad go to work which woke me up so i decided to watch tv and started dozing off and i remember what was on and everything so i heard like footsteps behind me and i thought it was my mom but i could not move my body or my eyes and my body felt numb as if it fell asleep like when your foot does and i felt someone behind my head and i heard the footsteps and i could not do anything not even look to see what it was….i dont kno how long it lasted but it felt like foreva and once i finally woke up completely my body felt relaxed and my heart was racing and i was very panicky.. today i been researching it also and it says its called sleep paralysis or the old hag syndrom eitha way i pray it neva happens to me again it was truly terrifying

  19. larabeth rouse says

    it is truly frightening and i dont understand why we go thru this but i deff think it had something to do with this movie because i was physically shaken after seeing it and i could not get it out of my mind……and i cant stop crying becuz i was screamin for my mother and felt like i was hittin the table with the remote and nothing and when i woke up i had the remote on my lap i am so confused and terrified to go to bed

Trackbacks