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Experiencing Sleep Paralysis

Updated on April 21, 2017

Having an experience with what is commonly termed sleep paralysis can consist of a number of different things. Those who suffer from these episodes report not being able to move, and sensing, seeing, or hearing other things or people in the room with them. I have experienced all forms of sensational hallucinations, having been one such individual not unfamiliar with the effects of Sleep Paralysis for as long as I can remember.

After meeting people who late in life, have only recently had a sleep paralysis event, and been very confused and shaken up by it I believe there is benefit in sharing experiences of this type to aid in others understanding of this intriguing sleep disturbance reassuring that they are not alone.

Here I have documented a few of the more memorable Sleep Paralysis episodes I have experienced that definitely made a lasting impression.

Someone's in the room.

After having laid in bed awaiting sleep, I became what I will call, aware, of the physical changes in my body indicating that I was falling asleep. Suddenly I heard a low voice that said in a whisper, "be very quite, she is asleep now we can get her". When I heard this I sensed several people standing at the side of my bed. I also saw these people as dark hooded figures, but what I visualized was in a dreamlike state, I was seeing my room but it was different, the visualization is a bit difficult to find words for. As is the standard I tried to move, feeling as if I was flailing my body about, and tried to scream but nothing more than a muffled peep came out. My hope was that I would disturb or wake my husband, so he could wake me up and save me, but nothing happened. Giving up my at my attempts at salvation, I just lay there. After a few moments passed it seemed as if I completely fell asleep, and then woke back up able to move again.

Apocolypse Over the Water

A good number of my sleep paralysis occurred after falling asleep on my desk in high school. I am sure that I was contributing to the issue by burning the candle at both ends continually, and really solidifying a very disruptive sleep cycle into adulthood. Out of the many times I found myself unable to lift my head up off my desk, or move any of my extremities one particular time stood out over all of the others.

With my forehead supported by my crossed arms set upon the desktop, and my face nestled safely in the center of the basket created by my arms, looking directly at the faux wood pattern that made up the writing surface below me, I closed my eyes to catch up on some much needed sleep while the teacher rambled on about some mind numbing subject. I soon found that I was asleep, I think, and I was dreaming of a large body of water probably an ocean. It seemed to be that I was flying at a very high speed only a mile or so above the surface of the water. I could vividly feel the exhilaration of the speed at which I was traveling and wanted to stop, it was causing the funny feeling in my tummy much like that of riding a roller coaster. Realizing that I was dreaming and remembering that I was sleeping in class I tried to open my eyes to wake up, it did not work. I began to get nervous because the sensation of being out of propelled forward out of control continued. Then in the horizon over the ocean I was looking at I saw the sky light up, and a cloud began to rise, it looked like a fiery red cloud like the sun, and I was being jettisoned directly at it. I felt as if I was witnessing a nuclear explosion in the distance, and in the same move flying right into the center of it. I kept trying to snap out of it, but could not, and suddenly there was a, loud pop! I was awake, with a jolt. I have no idea what I saw, but I have never forgotten it. The flying sensation was so incredibly visceral, and the images I was seeing were as clear if not clearer than reality.

I have remembered this particular instance from that day forward it seemed almost apocolyptic, or prophetic in nature although I have no idea where it came from and have never seen anything in this reality to match.

Unusual Kinestetic & Auditory Episode

One very interesting bout I experienced exhibited only sound and sensation along with the characteristic inability to move.

I lay down to sleep and as my mind wandered, I suddenly felt as if something had a hold of my hair and was pulling it in a bunch up over my head. At the same time I began to feel the sensation of the hair pulling I started to hear something that sounded like a table saw. It was almost as if my hair had been wound around some sort of rotating mechanism above my head. The mechanical grinding sound, and sensation of continuous hair pulling, continued for what seemed like an eternity. I did a small bit of what I thought was struggling about to try and snap myself out of whatever was going on, and made a couple of attempts at screaming, before giving up.

By the time I had this particular experience I had had so many previous Sleep Paralysis episodes that I knew what was going on while it was happening. As disturbing and unusual as it was, I knew that it would go away as it always does, and I would be fine just like all the other times before. At some point I was finally able to open my eyes and role over, ending that unnerving combination of sensory activity.

Other typical reports

There are many who report what is called the Old Hag Syndrome. I personally have not experienced this particular type of sleep paralysis, in reviewing accounts of Old Hag Syndrome it seems to have all the characteristics of Sleep Paralysis, and or Night Terrors. In this situation an individual believes that they are awake, finds that their unable to move, and sees a dark figure over their body holding them down. They also find that they are unable to vocalize and can not seem to break free of the clutches of the apparent figure on top of them.

Alien visitors, ghostly apparitions, or demons, are also commonly recounted as a component of stories by those who are awakened in the night and find themselves unable to speak or move.

Science explains this phenomenon to be merely a chemical malfunction, where in brain chemicals are released at the wrong time. The fore mentioned chemicals naturaly paralyze the muscles during sleep to protect us from moving around according to dream imagery, and hurting ourselves. In cases of Sleep Paralysis the theory is that this chemical is released prematurely when the brian is still in a semi conscious state.

This explanation of how and why sleep paralysis occurs debunks accounts for many of ghostly visitation, alien abduction, Old Hag Syndrome, and more.

Inside the Thoughthole

Though the scientific explanation of this phenomenon is sensible, I still find it all very curious, especially from my lifetime of experience with nocturnal disturbances of all manner. What really stands out is that, I do not recall anytime that I did not experience something seemingly malevolent, and or unpleasant during my episodes of sleep paralysis. Indeed I am aware that your mind is said to fill in the blanks of those things which it does not understand, but is my mind really so steeped in darkness and terror that I must always see and experience things that incite fear and unease? Is this also the case for all of the other people who report this? I really don't think we are all that completely damned to producing only thoughts and feelings of the nether. For goodness sake if my mind is producing these things why is it not creating something with which I am familiar as it is said to do? Instead it produces and image or experience more questionable than fiction.

As I continue on my journey of this life I proceed collecting the theories as I go, but to this point there is still much that remains open on this subject and I think the missing pieces may lay outside of this physical reality and known science.

Theories abound, what might yours be?

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    • thoughthole profile image

      thoughthole 5 years ago from Utah

      Interesting rjbatty, it sounds as if you have had a considerable history with sleep disturbances, I truely identify. I reccomend that you read my hub Breaking Free of Sleep Paralysis, the information there has been what has helped me most to overcome the clutches of the sleep paralysis / night terror issues.

      Otherwise I send you my best intentions toward having more beneficial sleep experiences.

    • rjbatty profile image

      rjbatty 5 years ago from Irvine

      I've experienced paralysis in my dreams many times, and it is really frustrating. Sometimes, the intensity of the dream is such that I somehow force myself to move, and this results in my sitting up in bed. I've also experienced voice paralysis -- where I want to/need to speak or scream and cannot. Sometimes this results in awakening to a garbled utterance issuing from my throat. My most frustrating dreams of paralysis are the ones where I'm able to move -- but as if I were made out of lead. Very frustrating when trying to escape from one threat or another.

    • thoughthole profile image

      thoughthole 5 years ago from Utah

      Thank You RK, I will make a point of checking your article.

    • thoughthole profile image

      thoughthole 5 years ago from Utah

      Cyndi10, Thank You, it is true that many people experience sleep paralysis, and I have met many that have had it but are not aware of what it is or that others have had similar experiences. I figure I can make some sort of good use of my own episodes by sharing.

    • profile image

      Roohi Khan 5 years ago from India

      Well written article! I did an article on sleep paralysis a few years back. Please do take a look at the comments there. There are indeed different theories people have for this phenomenon as the comments say. Do take a look.

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 5 years ago from Georgia

      I've read about this phenomenon. It is something quite a few people apparently experience. Well done article.