If you have ever woken up in the middle of the night and not been able to move your body or talk, you’ve probably had sleep paralysis. News Flash: It totally sucks..
Sleep Paralysis is a phenomenon in which an individual, when either falling asleep or waking up, briefly experiences an inability to move, speak, or react (Wikipedia). Think of it as your mind is awake, but your body has fallen asleep. This phenomenon can often include a feeling of anxiety and hallucinations. I’m going to tell you how it all happened for me and how to help yourself if you have it.
My sleep paralysis started when I was about 14 years old. I was having a strange dream and when I realized I was dreaming, I looked up and saw the ceiling of my room in a tiny hole above me. I reached up and pulled myself up to the hole. When I opened my eyes, I was laying in bed, all I could move were my eyes. I started freaking out, trying to move my legs and arms, but all I could feel was pain. After struggling for a while, I attempted to fall back asleep. The next day I woke up like normal. I have to say, this can be so super scary when you first experience it. At first, I thought it was a just a weird ass dream. So like in scary movie and being the white person I am, I ignored it.
When it happened again, I was not prepared for it whatsoever. Unlike the first time, I didn’t “pull myself” up into “my body”. I simply woke up and was “stuck”. Like the first time though, I was horrified. When first experiencing sleep paralysis, you will most likely think:
1. I’m going to be stuck like this forever.
2. I’m going to die.
3. I will never be able to stop this from happening.
While these may seem drastic, they are obviously not true. After a few more times of this experience happening, I took to the world wide web for the great wisdom of the internets. Shockingly, I actually found information on what was happening to me and it was from real doctors!
What is even scarier is that sometimes those who suffer from sleep paralysis can have horrifying hallucinations during their state. This has only happened to me twice during my many experiences and its terrifying. During one event, I saw a little girl standing in front of my bed, she was fuzzy and hardly visible. Talk about a “shit your pants” moment. I remember screaming at my boyfriend but when we woke up in the morning, he told me he didn’t hear anything.
So now that I have probably terrified you from ever wanting to fall asleep again.
Here are some things I have learned from others and my own experiences to guide you through sleep paralysis!
1. After your first time, you become more aware of what it happening to you if it happens again. Awareness is your greatest battle weapon against sleep paralysis. When you are in an aware state, you have more control over how you feel and think.
2. To go along with awareness, remind yourself what is happening and that there is no reason to be afraid.
3. STAY STILL. This seems redundant, considering you cant move, but your first instinct is try to move or struggle.
4. Breathe like your at a yoga class. Take deep slow breaths. When in sleep paralysis it can feel so calming to be able to feel the rising and falling of your chest.
5. There are two options you have:
First, fall back into sleep. This can be done by simply closing your eyes and continuing your breath cycle. But, just know that sometimes making yourself fall back into sleep can cause you to have another episode.
Second, wake your body up. This can be tricky. You’ll want to tense the muscles and create your own mantra to awaken your body. (Example: Move, Wake Up, etc). I usually wake myself up so I can re-position my body to avoid it happening again.
FINAL TIPS: Don’t sleep on your back (this has been known to cause sleep paralysis to occur), Take time to get settled into bed before trying to fall asleep (this can help both your mind and body to fall asleep without trying to wake up one without the other), Research Research Research (sleep paralysis is different for everyone so don’t be afraid to ask questions and make sure you’re doing whats best for yourself).
Hopefully my story and tips can help you in anyway, even if it just means knowing you’re not alone!