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 fiancĂ© 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 fiancĂ©, 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.