Friday, August 7, 2009

Sleep Paralysis: Moving Between Two Worlds

The description in Wikipedia best simplifies the strange phenomenon known as sleep paralysis, “Sleep paralysis occurs when the brain awakes from a REM state, but the body paralysis persists. This leaves the person fully conscious, but unable to move. The paralysis can last from several seconds to several minutes after which the individual may experience panic symptoms and the realization that the distorted perceptions were false.”

You know that movie “The Matrix?” That’s what I compare this to,it’s like waking up and realizing you’ve been living in a fake universe and you suddenly glimpse the real one and it freaks you out.

The symptoms of sleep paralysis include sensations of noises, smells, levitation, paralysis, terror, and images of frightening intruders.

Here’s some things that have been discovered about this phenomenon: It occurs more often in people who have had panic attacks, it tends to run in families, it is often associated with “hag syndrome” or the sensation of someone sitting on one’s chest, often involves the sensation of someone being present with you, sometimes gives an out-of-body experience, it is rarely linked to any deep psychological problems, and about 4 out of 10 people experience this phenomenon.

What might exacerbate it? Lack of sleep, sleep schedule changes, stress or bipolar disorder, sleeping on your back, restless legs or narcolepsy, some medications, and substance abuse.

Your best bet for beating this is to get regular patterned sleeping habits, reducing stress, exercising, and trying not to sleep on your back (it helps if you use a tall pillow so you’re more apt to sleep on your side).

If you’ve experienced this phenomenon, consider yourself someone who’s undergone something rather paranormal-like. It certainly makes for a terrifying short story. Here’s an example of the one that I can still remember to this day that horrified me so much that I became fixated on end-of-world movies and stories.

It’s my day off. I don’t feel like going to the beach, so I decide to veg-out. I lie down against a bunch of pillows I have tossed against the base of my couch, sinking into the plush old-fashioned shag carpet of my apartment. The TV, at my feet, is showing the usual LA morning talk shows. The speakers drone in their whiny voices as I fade into a light sleep. Lying on my back against the pillows, I open my eyes slightly to see words going across the screen, scrolling continuously. I try to move, but am completely unable. My arms and legs are weighted down, my eyes won’t open more than a slit. The writing is fuzzy. My face feels weird, like it’s melting. I can’t open my mouth to speak. I try desperately to read the scrolling. Why do I feel so weird? What happened? What’s that scrolling saying? My mind interprets it as the TV showing emergency shelter locations for my area. I am desperate to read where those in Redondo Beach go, but I can’t make out the words. My body won’t work, my mouth won’t work. I must be irradiated. They dropped the bomb! I’ll never make it to a shelter now. I will all my power into moving or speaking or opening my eyes to see better. I collapsed back against the pillows and give up. Even if I made it to a shelter, I’d be dead from the radiation. I give in to death.

It must have been only seconds later that sleep gave up its hold and I opened my eyes and realized the show was over and scrolling the credits. I looked around me and out the window to see the normal world. I studied my face in the mirror. It felt so absolutely real and I felt as though I had just given in to death. I’m trembling, but I’m alive. I feel like I had a second chance.

Many times the elements of what the eyes are seeing are incorporated into the semi-dream state and they can be quite distorting. Occasionally, I see a face leaning over me that’s gray with large dark eyes (alien-like). When I do finally become fully alert, I realize I’m looking at the patterns of light and dark in the room and making a face from it.

The mind doesn’t know the difference between a fantasy and reality, it will react accordingly with arousal, tension, or peace. I learned that lesson that day and I also learned to try to avoid sleeping on my back. I bought a tall pillow and avoided that position as often as possible. Over the years, several more times I’d have this phenomenon, each time I was sleeping on my back.

Just remember, most everyone will have this happen at some point, waking up during paralysis. It’s necessary for the body to undergo this state while dreaming (to keep us from running about the house and acting out our fantasies). Still, if you wake up during it, it’s like waking up in Christopher Reeve’s body and a sense of being held captive; the brain on, the body off.

You’ll probably remember your sleep paralysis events the rest of your life. They leave quite an impression. I like to consider them as an interesting learning tool about what the mind is capable of and the alternate realities that exist when we dance between the mystical dream world and the practical awake one. Marrying the two together is bound to cause some very surreal experiences.

Happy dreams!


  1. how weird this must be! i never had that happen! i always sleep on my stomach, since the last time i slept on my back, i woke up choking on my own spit! lol! that's what ms does, i guess...
    BTW...i read the title to this as 'sheep paralysis' at first!! hahaha!

  2. Sheep paralysis--I like that. Yeah, I've been running into more and more people having weird sleep issues and I thought the time has come to talk about that. It actually explains a fair amount of nighttime ghostly encounters, as well.

  3. I've had this since I was a child. It's a really interesting phenomenon.

  4. And aliens could be inducing sleep paralysis, which is how they manage to abduct so easily without a fight.

  5. I.M. Yup, it's very weird. I'm glad I only get it about once every two years now

    Yeah, it's one of those things. It's definitely without a doubt a function of the human body to be able to experience paralysis while starting to wake or starting to sleep. Whether one can say aliens use the same technique, I guess no one's been able to prove, but certainly if they were utilizing that, it would be from the same part of the brain that allows us to be paralyzed for dream state. I have to admit, if they had such an ability to utilize that part of our brain, they should also be able to release the dream chemicals so we don't remember the event at all or remember it as something completely different like a dream. There should be fewer people with stories out there and most people just thinking they had a bad night's sleep. If you do some research on the pineal gland, I'd be curious to see what you find as far as possible theories on how an alien could access and control our waking/dream state. It's an interesting theory.

  6. Well, I've researched the whole brain and there are too many possibilities.

    One thing I do know for certain is that, in what it is that aliens do that could cause pain, it will always and already mimic something that medical science has a name for. What better way for aliens to hide their existence. Its a stealth of sorts. They never do anything unless it mimics something we have put a label on and 'stealth' is their forte and middle name.

    I understand sleep paralysis quite well too. I also know that science still does not have the answers yet. They are still in an assumption mode as to 'how' it happens in regard to how it is triggered.

    The common denominator of course is fear. Here is where they're hung up.

    If you are in a nightmare type of dream (REM sleep obviously) you can instill fear in yourself. That fear sets off the various chemicals that can cause sleep paralysis and get the corollary discharge rolling.

    The secondary fear you instill in yourself is now the fact that you're awake but paralyzed. This is why there is an unbroken cycle in that corollary discharge and it takes a while to get out of it.

    So essentially you've instilled fear from a dream and now you're instilling more fear because you can't move. Mega adrenaline rushing out of the adrenal glands and many things are going haywire.

    In my case, I know when aliens are present with me and during those times, I can see them too. Early on, (Jan-April 1997) I would experience sleep paralysis. After a while I 'stopped fearing them' because they never hurt me so I had no reason to fear them. By no longer fearing them, when they would arrive, I no longer had sleep paralysis while they were present. Now that is my experience, which is a fact for me but you can only wonder about yourself if you've experienced sleep paralysis.

    I can read about corollary discharge all day long but I know for myself that their initial presence caused the fear and that fear was (are you ready for this) 'placed in my dream' and previous to the sleep paralysis. One thing you have to remember is that aliens don't always work in the body, they can just as easily work in the spirit. It might have been just three seconds prior to the sleep paralysis but just the same, the fear came first and not after the fact. I've been down this road so many times so I tend to find my own answers.

    The paralysis puts you in somewhat of a state of shock and the first thing that usually happens there is that you forget about what you were dreaming about, which could have been fearful. The long term memory is not in play here, which is why we usually forget our dreams upon waking. Or, an alarm clock will do it too. Once in sleep paralysis, the corollary discharge causes a chain reaction and can intensify sleep paralysis and even make it last a lot longer – almost as if it’s an unbroken cycle.

    Here was my end result with sleep paralysis somewhere around April of 1997.

    So finally I laid there and said to myself, why do I fear them, they’ve been here many times before and they never hurt me and voila, no more sleep paralysis. Test for yourself the next time you experience sleep paralysis. Laugh instead and think, oh bother, why is this happening again and try and laugh about it. Dismiss the fear because by doing so you break the cycle of corollary discharge. But in my case they’ll still always be there until they're ready to leave.

    They show me a lot of things and give me answers to questions I had during the day and they 'do it' in my dreams. My dreams are not your average every day dreams. They are as if a written script and of course the pictures flow just like a movie - on super 8 film. Weird huh? :)

  7. In my experience this usually happened when I was on my back, but not always. And in my experience there was the levitation sensation, or a feeling like someone was pulling me from my bed...I tell you, it all feels so REAL, that is what is so horrifying about it. And for me, there was ALWAYS someone else there. When I first began having sleep paralysis, that someone was benign, not really scary, not really anything - but as the years went by, the presence became more "evil" in nature, whispering in my ear, growling, horrible giggling, biting me...and at times the encounters grew sexual.

    I have done a lot of reading up on this phenomenon, esp the hallucinations, and supposedly my experiences were "normal" within the context of the condition. Before I knew about sleep paralysis, I thought something supernatural was happening, but now I am not so sure. The thing that makes me wonder is the similarity of my episodes. My entity was the same, never changed - always the same "personality"

    One weird thing is that when in the state, you know what is happening and can make yourself wake up. But, there is another option in that state, and I knew I always had it but was afraid to give in to it - the option to "let go", to not fight it, and let it happen or take you where it would. I was always to scared to do that, and still wonder what would have happened if I did.

    It is a weird thing to experience, for sure. I am glad it doesn't happen anymore. Another interesting thing - I never experienced this when sleeping with someone else, it always happened when I was alone.

  8. Jennifer;
    That is where the hag syndrome came from. It only happens on my back too and a component of it can be sleep apnea. Mine has usually involved a large gray face right up near mine so that it's all I can see and a sense of the worst kind of horror imagineable. I have had, however, a few occasions when I awakened during orgasm but there's no one there. That's also rather normal as the body is in some of its most aroused states during sleep time, for women and men. Even knowing it's all explainable, I still dread when it happens.

  9. alright guys im not so sure ab all this alien stuff but, ive had this for years still do...i think what triggers it is stress, even when you dont feel stressed its like the sub mind thoughts that work while your asleep, and the sleeping on the back could be true but ive also had them while laying on my side....cause in one instence i felt like i couldnt breathe vause i felt the cover on the side of my face and could see the bed out of one eye, kind of like my mouth was face down on the matress, the only hallucinations ive had is a floating face, similar to an old mans... the usual feeling i get is like my body is vibrating so fast it feels unreal but then always feels like somethings grabbing at my legs after that its like my limbs and arms begin to curl up like a fruit roll up. i have found a back door to the dream to get away though. Main thing is to not panic, its hard to do but if it happens as often to you as it does me you can adapt...what i do is try to focus on every extrimity , toes, fingers, hands, you focus and try to move at first it feels like your not moving it but you find one that will just wiggle, keep working it back and fourths and eventually youll move it so much youll wake up. Also its like this dream like thing has a path it wants you to take... as long as you just roll with it its fine the more you try to get out youll panic wich brings on the terrors and the fear....but stress is a big factor, i spent 18 months in a combat zome in iraq, ramadi to be exact, and then is when i had numerous accounts of this sleep paralysis, what helps me cope is i just pretend im flying....but i feel you guys, i hope all sleep is well