Living With Sleep Paralysis

If you’ve never experienced sleep paralysis, consider yourself lucky. Sleep paralysis is a phenomenon that occurs when (basically) you wake up before the part of your brain that controls your limbs does. (Like I said...basically.)

During the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage of you night’s sleep, your muscles are essentially locked, keeping you from moving and acting out any of the things occurring in your dream. However, when you wake up during that phase, you are left completely awake, but unable to move or speak… and it’s just AWFUL. The condition can be attributed to a number of things- from sleep apnea, sleep deprivation, narcolepsy and an array of other conditions such as bipolar disorder.

As someone who experiences sleep paralysis quite often (starting to get worried here..), I can honestly say that it’s one of the most dreadful experiences and each time I go to sleep, I borderline pray it doesn't happen. It’s happened so many times that I’m a little used to it at this point, and I am VERY conscious of when it’s happening and I am even able to wake myself up from it.

Typically, I try very very hard to open my eyes all the way (it’s hard because my body so easily wants to get sucked right back into the sleep it was experiencing), and then I try to take a deep breath. For some reason, breathing gets harder during an episode of sleep paralysis (one of the main symptoms) and I for one find myself literally unable to breathe at all, which is why I try to just wake up from it.

Ok, but here’s the freaky part…. that I try very hard not to think about…but am going to tell you about anyway...Via Wikipedia

Some people, as part of the many symptoms of the condition, hallucinate so much during it that they start seeing mysterious figures and shapes-- all while paralyzed. Granted, it only lasts from a few seconds to a few minutes, but just the thought of being half asleep, unable to move AND seeing a figure moving about in my room is FREAKY. Luckily, the most I have experienced is hallucinating full-on conversations I held while sleeping, and the illusion of waking up and getting out of the paralysis when I was actually very much in it.

All in all, while sleep paralysis is creepy, it can’t be directly attributed to anything and happens more often to those who experience it than they would like.

I think I’m going to start trying to get more sleep.