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Sleep Paralysis

Discussion in 'Midnight Owl' started by Dragon, Jul 16, 2008.

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  1. Dragon

    Dragon Staff Alumni

    Anyone have any experiences with this? I got my first taste of it last night and am now terrified of it happening again. Would be appreciative of any info.

  2. wallflower

    wallflower Well-Known Member

    It can't hurt you physically. But if you don't treat it with something like Melatonin it can affect your life in negative ways. If you suffer from a sleep disorder or sleep apnea this may be the cause. Good luck with resolving the sleep paralysis. I only get this when I am tired out or on edge about something so don't stress.
  3. low

    low Member

    Basically when you sleep - you go to sleep in different stages (I think there are four). To stop yourself from acting out your dreams your nervous system stops your body from being able to move. For people with sleep paralysis their body has said 'okay you are awake now' in a sense - so whether you get it falling asleep or before you wake up, what your brain has intended to do was to wake up like normal.

    The problem for people with sleep paralysis is that the process of these sleep stages is broken in effect and your brain does things in the wrong order. Your eyes open while you are in the light stage of sleep yet your brain hasn't turned your skeletal muscles (the ones which make you move your limbs and walk about and such) back on. And though you are in a light stage of sleep, it's enough to dream.

    and so you feel awake when you are really asleep but unable to move - sleep paralysis. It's very much like the opposite of sleep walking.

    I have had sleep paralysis for 5 or 6 years now. It is very scary if you get a bad one, at times upsetting, especially if you have never had it happen before or don't know why it is happening. When it first started happening to me I genuinely thought I may be turning Schitzophrenic, it wasn't untill i researched it that I realised it was something very different. It can be entirerly random; not happen for months and then happen every night for several days. I can confirm that it does tend to happen more so at times of stress, definately true.

    It sounds crazy to someone not experienced it but it is as real as anything when you are awake and fully conscious. You can see, hear and feel your conjured nightmares, be touched, poked, crushed, choked by them. They can appear as hags, demons or shadow figures an inch away from your face, sit on your chest or shout in your ears so it hurts. Spookily many people with sleep paralysis report a hag that sits on their chest and chokes them. I have had the hag sit on my chest and get right upto my face but never been choked thank fuck! For me I personally see shadow figures in the corner of my room and on my ceiling. It's childish when I think about it. But that's what my mind acts out.

    Sadly there is little you can do to stop it when it is happening and little medication available. Sometimes I can tense my whole body as much as I can wherever I can in the parts that I can move or tingle slightly and shake myself as violently as I can to wake myself up.

    Don't sleep on your back if you are terrified of being choked. It's from lying on your back that you get the crushing feeling in your chest. The downside of this is that you can give yourself a bad back by sleeping on your sides.

    I think it's natural to want to look at your nightmares to see what's happening, but if you spin your eyes and try not to look at them, at least for me they seem to not get as close.
  4. $MyName

    $MyName Well-Known Member

    I got it quite a lot of times when I was younger (around 14-17)... Pretty scary, but from all that I know it can't hurt you and the reason I was getting it was related to stress and lack of sleep.. Always seemed to happen when I took naps on the couch (especially in the afternoon after school).

    Maybe try sleeping a little more, in comfortable places and no stress? If any of that is an issue for you, like it was me anyway... That's really all I can say on it sorry.

    EDIT: didn't realise how old this thread was... Whoops.
  5. Nihilist87

    Nihilist87 Member

    I get this every now and then, and it used to happen a lot more when I was working weird shifts. I think a regular sleep pattern helps, but if you're anything like me and suffer bouts of insomnia, then it does kinda suck. You sort of get used to after a while though, and you can just calmly wait it out.

    Are you totally awake when it happens? I think I'm somewhere in between awake and asleep, and I'm never aware of my body becoming normal again, I just wake up in the morning and remember it happening.
  6. aoeu

    aoeu Well-Known Member

    I would like it to happen to me. It's said to be thoroughly terrifying, but it would still be quite an experience - and I think understanding it will lessen the fright.
  7. SAVE_ME

    SAVE_ME Well-Known Member

    You know what? This actually happened to me last night too. It was my second experience, first one was actually a few weeks ago. TBH it scared the living sh*t out of me. I remember something (couldn't actually see what it was) choking the hell out of me, and I was landing my fist out trying to fight back, but for some reason every time I reached my fist out it was incredibly slow. Eventually though I managed to pull myself out of it. Scary experience. It's supposed to happen when you're overly stressed about something, which makes sense because I have been going through a lot of stress lately, and I haven't been getting as much sleep as I should.
  8. music_junkie

    music_junkie Well-Known Member

    Low covered it really well, I don't have much to add except that it also may be transient, or a more chronic condition.

    It's a pretty common occurance, with the majority of the general population experiencing some form of it in their lifetime.

    It's also important to note that there are 2 forms... the simply paralyzed form, and the one accompanied with hallucinations. (Mild, of course.) Hallucinations range, but commonly they consist of being aware of an "evil" being in the room with you, sitting on your chest, etc. Alien abductions, spiritual awakenings, and other variations of devils/angels are also common.

    Sleep paralysis episodes have been linked to sleep disorders like narcolepsy and insomnia, so there is some validity there. However, if you are JUST experiencing sleep paralysis, there is NO known "treatment" for this condition. That is to say, if you went into an MD they wouldn't prescribe you meds strictly for your sleep paralysis episodes... Causally, it may be caused by a sleep disorder as the others said or simply increased, heightened anxiety due to more psychosocial factors, rather then biological/physiological. (That's what get's me...)

    Like Low said, it's harmless. During the REM cycle of sleep, the part where we are dreaming, the body becomes paralyzed. (Breathing becomes shallower as a result of our chests being "paralyzed," which is why difficulty breathing is such a common complaint.) This, essentially, is to prevent us from ACTING OUT our dreams, lest we hurt ourselves or others around us. It's actually a brilliant evolutionary adaptation... The problem occurs when part of the brain misfires, and causes us to awaken before our body does... That is to say, our mind becomes conscious before our body regains full mobility.

    The best way to "fight" sleep paralysis is to relax. Counter-intuitive, but the more you struggle the "deeper" you get. Try to focus on a small part of your body, a finger or toe, and try moving it. If you can move even the tiniest bit, you can "break" the spell. It's also helpful if you sleep with a partner to let them know ahead of time, because if someone touches you during an episode it will break the episode entirely.

    Episodes usually last only a few minutes, even though they feel forever.

    On the bright side, if this is a chronic thing for you, especially if you are experiencing the hallucinations along with the paralyzation, you CAN learn to use it to your advantage. Sleep paralysis opens up an entire new world in terms of lucid dreaming, and when mastered, can allow you to control your dreams in really creative/exciting ways.

    Some web sites to offer you further info. Hope that long winded message helps!

    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 21, 2008
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