Hi hello spooky internet folk, today I’m talking about sleep paralysis. If you were to do a quick google search for sleep paralysis right now you’ll find a definition, a couple of medical pages and a wikipedia page followed by countless web articles with names like: “awake in a nightmare“, “the nightmare of sleep paralysis“, “sleep paralysis: the demon in my bedroom” and of course an article written by Buzzfeed called “13 facts about sleep paralysis that will keep you up at night!“. This post is none of the above, it is however my own account/rantings of living with sleep paralysis turned into a post that nobody really expected or asked for (can I get a woop woop?!).
For those of you that aren’t sure or aren’t aware – sleep paralysis is a temporary inability to move or speak that occurs when either falling asleep or waking up. It takes place during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is the part of sleep in which you have the most vivid dreams, your muscles lock during this time as to make sure you don’t get up and hurt yourself. Sleep paralysis occurs as you consciously wake up during this time, however your muscles are still locked in sleep mode therefore you are unable to move, speak, open your eyes and have trouble breathing. It can last either a few seconds or a few minutes and it’s a completely natural (and harmless) occurrence.
Sleep paralysis has effected me for as long as I can remember, and I’m not exaggerating for dramatic effect, my long term memory is quite literally awful and yet for some reason waking up with it when I was 14 is one of the earliest memories I have – most likely because it scared the life out of me. Most people experience sleep paralysis at least once or twice in their lifetime, however for some it is more extensive. For me, I experience it when I’m having a tough old time with my good friend mr anxiety, because of him I have trouble getting proper sleep therefore it happens more often. It happened this morning for example, I hadn’t slept great, I was having trouble waking up and was dropping in and out of snoozeville for a good half an hour – much like a child being forced to get up for school on a Monday. The last time I awoke my brain was conscious and ready to go but I was unable to move, and thus began a couple of minutes of panicked paralysis (which sounds like a cheesy budget app or something, but a lot less mind numbingly fun).
I’ve read other peoples accounts of sleep paralysis in the past, each experience is different, some capture it perfectly. I’m not going to attempt a second by second description, when I think about giving it a go I begin to feel a sense of panic which is quite hard to explain. Each time varies for me though, whether that be the length of time it happens for, what body parts I can move or whether or not I’m able to open my eyes etc. But what doesn’t change is the heavy pressure that weighs on my chest making it difficult to breathe, the same feeling on my head and all my limbs as if someone, or something, is holding me down and that even though I have experienced it countless times, it doesn’t get any less distressing in the moment – what if I’m stuck like this forever?
Some say sleep paralysis is a link to the netherworld (hence the “demon” articles), people recall seeing creepy figures as they lie frozen in position with their eyes open and are forced to watch as they get closer towards them. Each to their own but I personally don’t believe this, a symptom of SP is hallucinating (because you’re still in REM sleep mode the mind is still playing tricks), which I think is a logical explanation of the creepy figures sometimes seen however, some people even try and force themselves into sleep paralysis to experience this phenomenon (trust me, it’s not worth it).
I’m not entirely sure why I’ve decided to share this on the internet, it’s not something I can offer helpful advice on, I can’t even turn it into a fun story-time post. But for some reason I felt compelled to write about it, and I haven’t felt like that about anything in a few days so I kind of just went with it and ended up producing this. I guess I hope that if anybody reading this has experienced it and not known what it was or was scared to talk about it, or is just inquisitive as to what its all about, that you see that it’s harmless – that’s not to say it’s not totally odd and terrifying but it is, for the most part, normal. At the end of the day for me, it’s just a side effect of my anxiety that I have to deal with right now and to be honest, it actually doesn’t bother me that much.
(Here is an NHS article which explains symptoms, causes and treatments for sleep paralysis in a much more concise way than I ever could)
Thats is for today, if you’ve got any Q’s drop them below and I’ll answer best I can.