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What is dream paralysis? One possible cause of nightmarish sleep paralysis and its prevention

Updated on November 22, 2012

I am by no means an expert on dream paralysis and I don't know just how many types there are. I know what I had experienced and what I learned from it. Through the retelling of my own experiences, I am hoping that someone else with the similar kind of experiences might be able to help him or herself. It's very possible that your experience is not at all similar to mine. In that case, I would love to invite you to share your story and your knowledge on this subject.

My Personal Experience with Dream Paralysis:

When I was fourteen, I started to have very frequent episodes of Dream Paralysis. I was absolutely horrified. I would wake up in the middle of my sleep, unable to move my body, with my mind caught between sleeping and waking. In my experiences, I would be conscious while having the most terrifying nightmare all at the same times. The most frightening thing about this kind of Dream Paralysis is the intense fear about "being taken over" -- the feeling about another malignant presence. It happened to me so often at that time I actually figured out a way to "break the spell." I learned that if I just focus all of my energy on moving one single finger, as soon as that finger started to move, the spell would be broken and the worst would soon be over. Night after night, I would make one finger move, got myself out of the paralysis and went to knock on my parents' door. At the end, my poor sleep deprived parents made me memorise an entire prayer, word for word by heart, so I could learn to calm myself at night.

It was only after twenty years, during one conversation about dream paralysis, my father finally confessed to me that the house we lived in at that time was indeed haunted. At when I thought back, my frequent episodes of Dream Paralysis stopped AFTER we moved out of that house when I was fifteen. My father is a very spiritual and intuitive man. He said he knew the house was "not clean" (which is another way to say "haunted" in the Chinese terminology), but we were too poor at the time to move. Another strange episode that happened at the same house was to one of my cousins, who was but an infant at the time. My mother and her sister ran the front of the house as a hair dressing salon. One day, a three year old girl came to the saloon with her mother. While the mother was getting her hair done, the toddler wondered into the bedroom where my infant cousin was sleeping. She proceeded to bite his little face. By the time the adult arrived, the baby's face was covered in bloody bites. The nature of the incident was so appalling, I wonder if the earth bound spirit had a hand in that as well.

When I got older, I only have very very infrequent Dream Paralysis episodes, and it often happens at a hotel room somewhere (I was a flight attendant for 13 years) when I was extremely exhausted from working all night without sleep. Another time I had a Dream Paralysis episode at home, and it was after i just lost my uncle. A friend of mine (who one could call a "specialist" in all areas of earth bound spirits) confirmed that it was caused by an "ancestral spirit" trying to make contact. Wherever I was when an episode happened, I would immediately cleanse the energy of the room using "Energy purification and protection visualisation" (please refer to my hub under that name, in fact, you can find the quick link at the bottom of this article).

What I have learned is this: Dream Paralysis only happens to me

1. when I was young and defenceless and living in a haunted house;

2. when my energy level is very low and my physical body is extremely exhausted. When I am "stretched too thin,"if you would.

3. when my energy level is very low and exhausted PLUS I happen to be in an environment that is energetically "unclean" - ie, infested with an earth bound spirit.

Keep your energy level at a healthy level and the energy level of your environment clean and purified, for me, is a sure way of keeping Dream Paralysis at bay.

I am aware that my story and my method lack scientific and medical background. It is just my life experience and what I learned from it. I hope you find this helpful. If you are one of these lucky person that has never have to experience anything like it, then I am very happy for you also.

Blessings xoxoxo

written by Vera Lin, 2012

Have you ever experienced sleep paralysis?

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    • savvydating profile image


      4 years ago

      I've had a thing where I felt paralyzed and had a nightmare, but it was not overly terrifying, nor did I sense a presence. However, I know someone who has had this experience multiple times. He said the presence felt "evil" and that try as hard as he could, he could not lift the presence off of him. It was as if this thing was suffocating or choking him. He said it was horrible and made him fearful of sleep, at times. That being said, he was also under a lot of pressure at work--practically running the company by himself, even though he was just the marketing manager. The other interesting thing is that he had also recently moved into a small house in which someone had died. This person had lived a very troubled existence. So who knows? All I know is that if I experienced something like this, I'd be scared out of my mind. I'd probably go to bed with a Bible... just in case.

      Finally, when I sleep on my back, I almost always have nightmares. Consequently, I always make a point of shifting to my side before I fall asleep.

    • Violet Flame profile imageAUTHOR

      Violet Flame 

      5 years ago from Auckland, NZ

      Hi Moesky,

      Thanks for your excellent comment! I am a little embarrassed, actually. I know I have linked sleep paralysis closely to earth bound spirits in this article and I am honestly having second thoughts, lol. After further discussion with friends, I am reconsidering the possibility that it might be caused by a botched up departure or arrival of our astral body just as we switch between sleeping/waking states. Apparently, the best way (and the most gracious) is to simply relax into the experience and it will naturally fades. On personal reflection, I realised I have attached a lot of fear with the experience. It might also a faulty conclusion led on by word association as much as circumstances. I would very much like to let go of my fear-based association in more ways then one, about everything.

      I really like what you said about "stepping out of the dream" during episodes of sleep paralysis, and how you decide to consciously "leaving your dream state" when it gets frustratingly out of control. It is probably the wisest thing one can do. It appears to me that our attitude towards dreams and nightmares reflects exactly our attitude towards life. I have just recently come to see that I have a tendency towards reacting with fear, and it appears that you have the wise man's easy way of giving it no importance. Merrily, merrily. Life is but a dream.

      p.s. don't let the wrong key putting you off. You can always give it another try later :-)

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I used to have it often as a kid, with a last bout at 19 years old. I got to accept it without any fear of spirits or in-breakers or whatever other explanations people had. I decided that my mind was just in a waking state while my body still slept - I could understand that, and that it was also associated with the ability to lucid-dream (which I also did regularly). Of course these nightmarish situations arise out of shock - I controlled it in my way by learning to wake myself up... at the point that I realize I'm dreaming I just choose to step out of the dream. It's quite comical really, because it's what I do now with other dreams - I don't have nightmares anymore, but I do have the awful frustration dreams where things get more complicated than they should be - I get to the point in the dream where I say "enough of this...I'm leaving", and then I wake. I did it in one dream and said goodbye to everyone in the dream before I left.

      (ps - tried to leave you some fanmail but pressed a wrong key and messed it up. )

    • Violet Flame profile imageAUTHOR

      Violet Flame 

      5 years ago from Auckland, NZ

      Nicely put Karthikkash, thank you for your excellent comment.

      I have never associate sleep paralysis with sleeping position before. As a rule, I would go to sleep flat on my back, then I will be all over the place from there. But I must say, every memory I had about sleep paralysis I would be on my back, as it normally started at the onset of sleep for me. A bit like I am catching the lift to the basement of sleep, but it got stuck half way, not going anywhere! I am sorry to hear that you had more episodes the last couple months, it's never nice. As stated in my hub, my initial intense episodes started when I was 14 when we were living in a haunted house, that fact was confirmed by my father who is very intuitive and psychic in his own ways. It's funny because we waited over twenty years to exchange that piece of information about that house. I guess he thought I was too young to understand at that time. Again, this is just my personal experience. I am sure others, like yourself, experience them quite differently. Thank you xoxo

    • karthikkash profile image

      Karthik Kashyap 

      5 years ago from India

      I am a person who frequently faces dream paralysis. But, by what I have researched, it happens to some people when they sleep on their back. And from my personal experience, I have either sleep paralysis or nightmares when I sleep on my back.

      I recently had sleep paralysis within a couple of months. It was quite terrible. It was as if a black shadow standing beside me staring at me but doing nothing. I knew I was dreaming. But I couldn't do anything. I wanted to scream, but couldn't do that as well. It was as if I was suffocating.. Just before I lost all hope, I thought of giving one final push. I put all my effort and kicked up, and thankfully I woke up. I was actually kind of sweating..

      I have been having these kinds of nightmares and sleep paralysis (it obviously involves spirits/ghosts/shadows/entities or whatever you call them) from way back in my teens. The only way I know to avoid them is to sleep on my side. Funnily, I almost never have nightmares when I sleep on my side. Another funny thing is that, though I am an agnostic, I always chant one prayer just before going to bed (taught by my mom that helps in eliminating nightmares). And most times, I don't have nightmares. I am not sure whether it is due to an unconscious faith in the prayer or some other science I don't know.

      By the way, I don't necessarily believe that I am attuned to other dimensions when I am asleep though I believe I have some minor psychic abilities. I also didn't know there was a paranormal connection to sleep paralysis. Is there truly any connection or is it just simple science?

    • sparkster profile image

      Sparkster Publishing 

      5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Oh I was indeed. It seems funny now but at the time it scared the living daylights out of me.

    • Violet Flame profile imageAUTHOR

      Violet Flame 

      5 years ago from Auckland, NZ

      Hi sparkster, that is very interesting indeed. I must say I am really glad that I no longer have to suffer from sleep paralysis on a regular basis as when I was a teenager. It's a real relief. I beg that you were very glad to wake up from that dream!

    • sparkster profile image

      Sparkster Publishing 

      5 years ago from United Kingdom

      You make a very interesting point. In the dream I actually WAS playing the guitar, it wasn't until the point where the lampshade starting floating around the room that I actually got scared and from that point on I could only move my eyes, I also tried shouting out but no sound came out of my mouth.

    • Violet Flame profile imageAUTHOR

      Violet Flame 

      5 years ago from Auckland, NZ

      Thank you sparkster for dropping by and for your interesting comment, I personally didn't experience any sleep paralysis related alien abduction, but I guess I can't speak for others. From my own personal experiences, sleep paralysis tend to happen when I was extremely tired, running on low energy and in an environment that's connected to earth bound spirit. Your dream is very interesting and indeed quite funny. You have an excellent and comical way of describing it which is very enjoyable. I wonder if you were playing your guitar while you were dreaming, because if you were, then strictly speaking it is not sleep paralysis as such. In sleep paralysis, the dreaming person was caught between sleeping and waking and could not move any muscle in the entire body.

    • sparkster profile image

      Sparkster Publishing 

      5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Sleep paralysis can be a disturbing experience for many people and has often been attributed to 'alien abduction' and being 'possessed by the devil' and scientific study also shows that the phenomenon could be responsible for many exorcisms which have been carried out over the years. However, scientific study also shows that sleep paralysis does not quite adequately explain the alien abduction phenomena.

      Could people who suffer this phenomena actually be tuned in to some other parallel existence or other dimension that most of us can't perceive or are these really just hypnagogic visions - tricks of the mind?

      I have only ever had one such experience and it's quite funny, although it scared me at the time. I have written about it before. I was lying on my bed playing my guitar when I fell asleep and in my dream I thought I was still lying there awake playing my guitar. Suddenly, the lampshade on my ceiling started floating around the room before coming up to me, growing two arms and hands, then started slapping me silly until I woke up!!


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