Welcome to ‘Sleep Paralysis’.
You awake, startled in the middle of the night, terrified from whatever nightmare you were just experiencing. You try to sit up but discover that you can’t move your body. You try turning your head, but quickly realise that not only can you not move any part of your body, you can’t even speak; not so much as a whisper.
Welcome to ‘Sleep Paralysis’. Often experienced at the point of falling asleep or waking up, sleep paralysis creates a state of temporary paralysis, where the sufferer cannot move or talk for a period ranging from a few seconds to several minutes. While it may not be harmful, sleep paralysis can certainly be terrifying.
Some sufferers feel a tightening of their chest or a choking feeling, while others hallucinate that there are people in the room watching them, or that there are demons lurking in the shadows.
Sleep paralysis is more common than you think, with approximately 1 in 10 people having at least one episode of sleep paralysis during their lifetime.
Paranormal Discovery Team Member, Harry Brewer, talks us through one of his personal experiences with sleep paralysis:
“One evening I was staying over at a friend’s house for the weekend. At the end of the evening, I retired to my bedroom, got into bed and gradually went to sleep. As I was sleeping my body felt like it was floating. I thought I was dreaming and about to go into a state of sleep paralysis. I went to wake myself up, but I was too late and soon realised that I couldn’t move my arms or legs. My whole body felt heavy and weighted, just like a bag of sand. I was lying on my back and felt completely paralysed.
Something then jumped onto my chest and I struggled to breath. Suddenly, my hand was grabbed and dragged from under the covers and left hanging off the side of the bed. Wanting to escape this nightmare I tried to shake myself awake but to no avail. I could hear movement next to my bed, like something was crawling around. Then what ever it was bit my hand. I felt the pressure of its teeth for a good 5 seconds. They weren’t sharp like an animal’s teeth, but felt blunter, more like human teeth. I put all the energy I could gather into shaking myself awake and I awoke.
Gasping for air, my heart was racing, and I could still feel on my hand the sensation of where my hand was bitten. I turned on the light to look at my hand. There was no visible bite mark, but I could still feel it there. I was quite shaken up by this whole experience, but I was also fascinated by it too.
Thinking logically, I tried to find reason to the experience. I know it wasn’t an animal biting my hand, as my friend had no pets and I know that I closed my bedroom door before I went to bed that evening. Nobody else was in my bedroom that night – I was alone. I pondered on this disturbing experience for quite some time and decided to ask my Spirit Guide to see if they could shed any light on what had happened.
Using my crystal pendulum, I asked my guide a series of questions through yes and no questions, the answers I got back were quite unnerving. My guide told me a spirit of a women connected to the land where my friend’s house was built, sat on my chest and then dragged my hand from my bed and bit into it. She was a cannibal and her intentions were meant to be harmful towards me.
As distressing and nightmarish this sleep paralysis experience was, I still find it very fascinating.”
What is sleep paralysis?
If you suffer from sleep paralysis, your desire to exorcise those sleep paralysis demons is completely understandable. But to do that, you need to understand what sleep paralysis is and what are the causes of sleep paralysis.
Hypnagogic sleep paralysis occurs when you are falling asleep. As you fall asleep, your body slowly relaxes. Usually, your brain becomes less aware, so you don’t notice your body going into this state. But, if you remain aware during this process, you may find you are unable to move or speak.
Hypnopompic sleep paralysis, on the other hand, occurs on waking. As you sleep, you alternate between REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep in cycles, with one cycle lasting about 90 minutes. Occurring first, NREM relaxes and restores the body, then, during the REM state, your eyes move quickly, and dreams occur.
As your body is still fully relaxed during this REM state, if you wake – as you do when experiencing sleep paralysis, you may be unable to move or talk. Sleep paralysis symptoms can include finding it difficult to take a deep breath, being unable to open your eyes, and hallucinating there is someone or something in the room with you wishing to cause you harm.
After sleep paralysis has passed, you should be able to move and speak as normal, but the experience may leave you anxious, and unwilling or unable to go back to sleep.
What causes sleep paralysis?
It is unknown how many people suffer from sleep paralysis, however, it is estimated 1 in 10 people will experience an episode of sleep paralysis during their lifetime. Affecting both men and women of any age, it is typically first experienced during adolescence.
While it is unknown what causes sleep paralysis, it has been associated with the following:
• Not getting enough sleep, where you suffer from either insomnia or sleep deprivation.
• Having an irregular sleep pattern, perhaps caused by jet lag or shift work.
• Having a sleep disorder, such as narcolepsy, which is a condition that causes sufferers to have no control over falling asleep, where they suddenly fall asleep at inappropriate times.
• Sleeping on your back.
• Having a family history of sleep paralysis.
• Suffering from mental conditions, such as anxiety, stress or bipolar disorder.
• Substance abuse.
• Using certain medications, such as those used to treat ADHD.
So, have you had any sleep paralysis experiences? Would love to hear about them.
Team Member – Paranormal Discovery