My Sleep Paralysis Experience
What is "Sleep Paralysis"
Prior to May 17, 2013 I can't be sure that I ever heard of sleep paralysis. I experienced this phenomenon for the first time in the early hours of May 17, 2013 and I had no idea what had happened to me. It left me rattled, to say the least. The next morning I decided to do some research. A few Google searches later, I had my answers.
In simple terms, sleep paralysis is exactly what it sounds like: the inability to move while asleep or just before falling asleep or just waking up. More often than not, people are fully conscious during sleep paralysis and even experience hallucinations. Sometimes it's not a complete paralysis of the muscles, but those not fully paralyzed will feel extreme weakness. People often report a tingling or vibrating sensation throughout their body, while others experience feelings of a heavy weight on their chest causing them to feel as if they are suffocating or choking. Other symptoms include the feeling of being held or tied down by an invisible presence, a sense of dread, detection of a foul odor, and an inability to speak.
For most people who have experienced sleep paralysis, a tremendous amount of fear is reported, likely due to some sort of hallucination during the event. If you have never experienced sleep paralysis, it's hard to imagine the sense of fear and helplessness attributed to this phenomenon.
Causes of Sleep Paralysis
During my research, I was sure to keep my eye out for one thing: what causes sleep paralysis?
After reading through numerous articles published on the subject, science has only yielded suggestions as to how and why sleep paralysis is caused. Most of what I read suggested that it is caused by stress, sleep deprivation, and high emotions such as anger and depression. One article in particular (http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/sleep-paralysis) stated that some sleep researchers have concluded that sleep paralysis is often caused by the interruption of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and that your brain isn't moving through the stages of sleep smoothly. It goes on the state that sleep paralysis occurs mainly at one of two times: while falling asleep or coming out of sleep.
Other articles provide alternative explanations that include demons, aliens, and other supernatural and paranormal causes. I will admit, during my ordeal, these definitely ran through my head.
My Episode of Sleep Paralysis
Here are the details of what I experienced in the early hours of May 17, 2013. I remember it as if I'm writing this as it happened.
It was a typical night for me, going to bed a little after midnight, watching some insipid program on television. About an hour later, I turned off the television and tried to go to sleep. I wasn't really tired, but I recognized that it was getting late and that I should try to get some sleep. I spent most of the next couple hours drifting in and out of dreamless sleep. Eventually, I did fall asleep and I remember dreaming. I remember my dream still, but it wasn't anything special, if only odd, just like every other dream.
I'm not sure how long I was asleep for, but I remember waking up and it was still dark outside. I don't know about anybody else, but every time I wake up in the middle of the night I run through a mental checklist in order to ascertain why I woke up. After waking up, I ran through my checklist. Did I hear something, is someone breaking in? Do I smell a fire? Do I need to use the bathroom or get something to drink? Do I need to change positions to get more comfortable? After running through my list, I decided that it was just a fluke, so I switched positions to one that I found more comfortable, I decided to try to go back to sleep. And that's when it started. Mind you, I am fully awake and conscious at this time.
The moment I closed my eyes, I immediately felt a very powerful presence next to my bed. I've felt things like this before and usually just get the spine-tingling chill over with and ignore it for the most part and let it ebb away. But this time, the chill didn't go away - it amplified. It felt as if hundreds of needles were poking me all over. Not really stabbing, just poking. That's when the fear began to set in because I have never felt anything like this before. Just an all over sharp poking mixed with having electricity moving through me. My pulse began to race and I could feel my adrenal glands exploding.
I was facing the wall, and when I opened my eyes, it was no longer dark in my room. Instead of seeing darkness on the wall, the wall was illuminated by a soft orange light, but I saw no shadows. I found out that my eyelids were the only thing on my body had control over, besides my ability to breathe.
I tried to turn over and see who my visitor was and where the light was coming from, only to feel complete paralysis. To better describe this feeling, it felt as if I was trapped inside my body, as if my skin had turned to stone. That's when I was assailed with the most intense fear I have ever felt. The ominous feeling of being watched continued to intensify, as did the tingling sensation I felt throughout my body. Since I was able to move my eyes, I figured I had control of my vocal abilities. I tried to speak, but no sound came out even though my mouth was moving. So I tried again, but this time to yell. All that escaped my mouth was a very low sigh.
Some people hear voices when they experience sleep paralysis, others don't hear anything at all. Imagine sticking your head out the window of a car while it's driving down a freeway with the wind blowing past your ears at a high rate of speed. That's the best way I can describe what I heard from start to finish of this occurrence,
This went on for maybe a minute or two, and it seemed that the fear coupled with the tingling feeling was going to drive me into insanity, and I tried several times to turn over to no avail, regardless of how hard I tried. And I'll be honest, I thought of the movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose when Emily gets possessed and she feels unable to move. I also thought about people's accounts of being abducted by aliens and how they recall feeling paralyzed and feeling that there was someone in the room with them. Yes, my mind wandered to far-fetched ideas such as these because besides my eyes, I still had functioning cognitive abilities. So what else could I do besides lie there and think?
Then, as quickly as it all came, it all disappeared, though for about an hour afterwards I felt the residual effects of what I perceived physically, in particular the needles and tingling. When it was all over, I was pumped with adrenaline and soaked with sweat. I stayed awake for some time after it ended, confused but strangely intrigued about my experience.
I have no permanent effects of that night, and I haven't been afraid to go back to sleep. Now that I know what it is and that there isn't anything dangerous about it, I'll be able to stay calm in the event it ever happened again. If you are a victim of sleep paralysis a simple Google search will show that it isn't uncommon and you are not alone.
If you have never experienced it before, take it from me: it is an absolutely terrifying experience if you have no idea what is going on. Hopefully this article will bring about some peace of mind to those who haven't conducted a search for this phenomenon and are living in fear. Additionally, I hope that those who are destined to experience sleep paralysis in their life but haven't had the pleasure yet find this article or another online before the universe decides to subject them to the living nightmare.
If you want more information, Google will provide a plethora of articles on sleep paralysis. Also, if anyone would like to know more about my experience, simply comment and ask.