I guess this seems like the appropriate place to post this; I was wondering if anyone else out there suffers from strange apparently random bouts of sleep paralysis? They're really quite scary, because for several minutes you are awake, but can't move your body. During these bouts I used to - oddly, don't freak out, it's not my fault :P ! - experience halucinations of ghostly figures; I can attribute practically all my times I've seen 'ghosts' to being connected to sleep paralysis (I include the infamous 'alien' of the Melbourne Obernet meet to this, for those of you playing at home). And it was always so incredibly vivid it scared the bejeezus out of me, even after waking up properly and seeing everything was fine.
I had thought I was the only one, until a conversation with a friend at dinner one night, and somehow we ended up revealing that we both suffered from them. I actually found it comforting to know that I wasn't the only one who had them.
I used to suffer from them all the time from when I was between about 16 and 22. Nowadays it's maybe, once a year, if that. And never if my partner's home, they only ever happen when I'm alone.
If you do suffer from them what kind of things have you seen? And have you found any way to stop them from happening?
The main ways I used to get around them were to not sleep on my back. I know it sounds stupid, but they only ever came if I had my face pointing directly upwards.
I think i have this problem, Min but it happens s infrequently that i'm not 100% sure...
When it happens, though, for some reason i always snap out of it at 3.14 am and have either seen a nurse dressed in Victorian-era-esque nurse outfits, you know, huge white head-dress, apron, that sort of thing... Or I will see something i cannot identify. I looks kind monsterish, huge, with wings etc. but also vaguely human, almost as though all the monster parts have been grafted onto some poor unfortunate person... both are always slightly see-through though, so i kinda know they aren't real but at the same time i have trouble processing that...
It totally freaks me out because if it's the nurse, she tries to tell me something and keeps indicating my legs, which makes me feel like they've had to amputate them while i was unconscious or something, and when it's the monster i get this overriding panic that it's going to eat me or something, so much so that even when i can move again and turn on the light to reassure myself that it really isn't real and never has been, I can't shake to fear and it takes me hours to get back to sleep.
I haven't found anything to make them stop, because i haven't had them so often as you. I haven't been able to identify whether they are connected to anything, i've only experienced it maybe three times in about 5 years... I also find that it happens when i sleep on my back though, so maybe it has something to do with that...
Oh gosh Thandi, that sounds horrifying. I know you don't like thinking about it, but when you wake are you unable to move for a moment, too? If so it sounds like it - I dunno how but it seems to draw on dark fears, maybe because it's your subconscious mind still waking..? I'm not sure, but it relieved me nonetheless to know there was a science and explanation (of a sort) behind it. And yeah, sometimes the dream ghost things are benevolent, just sitting there and other times they seem like they're ready to pounce on you...Both kinds seem to invoke that irrational but hours-to-calm-down fear.
All I could do to stop them - and they'd come frequently for a while there, was to try remember to sleep on my side; no idea what that has to do with them but I was just happy to find somethingthat worked. Maybe it's just tricking my brain too in thinking it helps...but the fear invoked by these experiences/dreams...anything that stops them happening is worth a shot, I think.
I remember some really vivid ones; I woke when visiting my mum and saw a lumberjack-type guy standing in the room; as soon as he saw I could see him, he charged for me. Another time I had a presence, not human, just standing, watching me from the middle of my cousin's bedroom when I went to stay for her wedding. Later the same night I woke to something (a dream-something) scrambling across me...it was a weird night. The most memorable time was when I woke, on my back, and I'd thrown the covers over my head at some point; I couldn't see the thing but I could sense it. Of course I was just scared and making something up because I couldn't move - it was like minutes of rigid paralysis, sensing something there above drawing energy from me, waiting for me to move, right above me. Words can't properly explain the fear.
Apart from the sleeping on side thing, I've also heard it said these things are caused by dehydration during the night (hence hallucinations) so I always make sure I drink a ton of water before I go to bed. Could be something to try.
I'm definitely going to try side-sleeping and drinking at least a bottle of water before be to see if it helps...
In answer to your question, yes i do have momentary paralysis before waking, and i also get this kind of 'phantom limb' sensation coz i can 'feel' my hand reaching for the lightswitch at the same tima as i can feel that it's unmoving against the sheets... Strange stuff...
I know what you mean about the fear... it's terrible, especially when you can't move for more than about 30 seconds, coz then things get to the 'oh my goodness can i really and permanently not move now?' stage... Horrible!
I get what you mean about feeling as though the hallucinations draw energy from you sometimes... for me (and i've only had this experience once, thank Lud!) it feels like a kind of draining sensation, like the fluid in my head is being leaked out of the base of my skull... Dunno if that's how it is for you, though...
Thanks for the tips. :)
I haven't had this happen to me before but the same sort of thing has happened to a close friend of mine, but she can't remember what she used to see. I asked my mother about it because she has studied dreaming in psychology and she says that you are still asleep when you get the paralsation because you become paralysed when you go to sleep as your body is like... dicsonnected? from your brain when you sleep, if that makes any sense. She agreed that sleeping on your side would be best. So... Yeah, hope they stop they sound really scary.
This has happened to me 3 times only. But i was SOOO scared. The first time i woke up and i was positive that there was a man in a blue stripped shirt facing sitting on my bed, but facing away from me. I got pins and needles EVERYWHERE and couldn't move. And then it all sorta faded it was so scary. The second time it was much shorter but it was the exact same man. I realized that it wasn't real, because it had happened before, but i still couldn't move and i had pins and needles everywhere again.
The third time it happened i woke up and i saw a mirror on my bed and i could see someone in a black coat behind me, in the mirror. I was soooo scared (I seem to say that a lot) but i didn't get pins and needles, i just couldn't move.
I seriously thought that this didn't happen to anyone else but i am relived that it isn't so rare. I know for a fact that the one with the mirror i was sleeping on my back but i can't remember for the other times.
I didn't know this was a proper problem until reading this thread. I've had it happen to me once, a few months ago, and I thought it was just a strange state where I was trying to wake up, but wasn't properly awake enough to move. It was actually really scary. I remember lying in bed, my eyes were open and I was trying to move; I did get pins and needles, all up my leg, which I felt was moving but I could see wasn't (like Thandi's 'phantom limb'). I was face up too. I find it so weird that it actually happens to other people.
I could heard my bedroom door opening, and I could hear footsteps, like someone was coming into my room. Because I couldn't move, I couldn't see who it was. I tried to say 'Hello, who's there?' but nothing came out. I had this strange feeling that there was something there, something close to the floor, like a snake (seriously, that was the first thing that I thought whilst it was happening). In this state it was dark in my room, when I woke it was bright and morning. I snapped out of it a few minutes later, falling back into natural sleep, but when I woke up after I knew it hadn't been a weird dream. I told my mum about it and she just said I was having crazy dreams again.
I am kind of reassured this isn't just some random thing that only happened to me. One thing I do know is that it wasn't pleasant. The whole concept itself is really interesting.
I think this has happened to me once, but I didn't have any hallucinations or anything, so maybe mine's a little different. Anyway, I had a dream where I was in the passenger seat of a car. I was too young to be driving (in the dream and in real life at the time), so logically there had to be someone else driving the car, but in the strange way of dreams I couldn't see this person and they never once appeared. Anyway, the car crashed and the last part of the dream was me lying bleeding in the car unable to get out because I was paralysed. I then woke up (I thought I was fully awake, but maybe I wasn't), and I was still paralysed. I freaked out a bit that my dream had been some sort of experience plucked from my actual life that I had forgotten so I had been in a car crash and I was paralysed. After a while, I was able to move again and I fell back to sleep.
Something that happens to me more often is having panic or anxiety attacks whilst I'm asleep. I've never had a panic attack during the day, but several times I've woken at night with them. I wake up completely terrified and breathless and I have to get up and move around otherwise it gets worse. For some reason shaking my arms helps me calm down. Sometimes I wake up terrified, but I'll know it's because I've had a nightmare I just can't remember the details of and I go back to sleep. When I wake up with a panic attack it's different though. Anyway, :P the point of the story is that I find it incredible what our bodies do when we're sleeping that we have no control over. No wonder dreams and things so often crop up in books.
I didn't know this was an actual issue until I saw this thread but I've had it happen to me twice I think.
The first time was when I was sick and I had a blocked nose and use to regularly wake up to cough up (sorry about the grossness) mucus, which in itself was terrifying because I couldn't breathe until I coughed it all up. And then one night I woke up completely paralyzed and I couldn't breathe or cough or talk, and I honestly though I was going to choke to death. But eventually I was able to move again.
The second time we were camping, and I was in the tent alone and the same thing happened. I couldn't move but I could hear noises outside and for a while I tried to persuade myself that they weren't real and then something black rushed at me and I was able to move again but it scared the living daylights out of me.
I think this is common among people on this website because a lot of people here have an active imagination. I often find myself gripped tightly by dream, and I think I have had something similar to the paralysis once or twice. I believe these episodes though are our mind giving into fears. I fear helplessness, and in the dream I am helpless. The mind convinces us that we can not move, and therefore we can not move.
Personally, I think the some of the paralysis is actually a very realistic dream like state. Sometimes our minds conjure up things that are extremely realistic. This is how people have imaginary friends. I used to dream I walked around the house at night just because I wanted to see how it looked in the dark, but everyone assured me I never moved from my bed.
I actually have dreams set in fantasy places that are so realistic that sometimes I wake up and think I am in that world for a second before my mind wakes back up to reality. I find that having a cat sleep with me helps,because I wake up whenever she moves,and it keeps me from the extreme dreaming states.