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How to Beat Sleep Paralysis

Updated on August 18, 2014

What is It

Sleep paralysis is when in the midst of falling asleep or waking up, you suddenly can't move your body, or speak. Many victims of sleep paralysis even claim that they see ghosts, or demons hovering over them or touching them, this leads many people to believe they were attacked by something supernatural.

During the medieval ages, sleep paralysis was often associated with coming into contact with an evil presence, little did they know it was simply their mind and body conflicting with each other.

Symptoms

Symptoms of sleep paralysis often include:

  • Consciously awake - Your mind will be awake, you'll be able to see and hear everything in the real world.
  • Body will be asleep - You will not be able to move, speak, or call for help.
  • Fear - Most people experiencing this and not knowing what's going on will obviously be afraid, who wouldn't if they could not move their body yet could see everything that's going on and not be able to do anything.
  • Hallucinations - You may experience auditory, visual, or even olfactory hallucinations, like being able to hear animals growling, seeing or sensing a malevolent presence in the room, hearing claws scratching again'st the wall or floors, being able to smell decaying odors, or even the sensation that you are being moved.
  • Out of body experience - a less common symptom
  • Pressure on the chest - A feeling of a weight or object on the chest.
  • Difficulty breathing - This associates with the feeling of a weight on your chest.

Sleep paralysis can often induce hallucinations.
Sleep paralysis can often induce hallucinations. | Source

Hynagogia or Hypnopompia

Which one did you experience?

See results

Hypnagogic Sleep Paralysis

This is when you become aware while falling asleep, more specifically when your body goes enters REM sleep. The body induces sleep paralysis which is what keeps it from moving while dreaming, however, when you become aware while falling into REM sleep, hypnagogic sleep paralysis occurs.

Hypnagogia is also associated with narcolepsy, when the body desires sleep, but the brain cannot shut off. When narcolepsy occurs, and the mind can not fall asleep fast enough, sleep paralysis can begin. (It's actually a lot more complicated than that..) Careful, don't confuse this with insomnia, they are two different things.

Hypnopompic Sleep Paralysis

This occurs near the end of REM sleep. Sleep usually happens in sleep cycle, REM sleep which is when the dreaming happens, and NREM sleep (non-rapid eye movement). The body alternates between these two cycles and Hypnopompia is when your mind wakes up before reaching the end of REM sleep.

For some reason people often experience more visitations from an incubus during hypnopompia than they do during hypnagogia.

Sleep Paralysis can be categorized into...

  • ISP
  • RISP
  • Hypnagogia
  • Hypnopompia
  • Or a mix, e.g; ISP and Hypnopompia are often commonly put together

ISP and RISP

ISP and RISP are another group of categories that sleep paralysis can fall into. ISP is more common (Isolated Sleep Paralysis) and can happen to anyone, it usually refers to one or two incidents of sleep paralysis and is associated with hypnopompia.

While RISP (Recurrent Isolated Sleep Paralysis) is well, recurrent. This is when patients experience sleep paralysis on a constant basis, it can be caused by more external factors like stress, lack of sleep, and a changing sleep schedule.

I have experienced ISP once, the reason for that I'll get into in the causes section.

Causes

  • Sleeping in a supine position - This means sleeping on your back, this is what causes me to go into sleep paralysis, I don't know why, but I sure won't be sleeping in this position ever again.
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Stress
  • Drug abuse
  • Lack of sleep
  • Changing sleep schedule
  • Narcolepsy

Treatment

ISP - If sleep paralysis occurs rarely for you, the triggers may be more simple, such as sleeping on your back, that's how I stopped it from happening to me.

RISP - If it is recurring, then the causes will usually require a little bit of change in your everyday life, maybe your too stressed out. Or maybe your sleep pattern is constantly changing, if you read my tips on getting rid of insomnia then you know that your body likes routine. If changes to your lifestyle doesn't work, then going to a doctor should be the next thing you do.

  • Certain drugs or alcohol can cause sleep paralysis, try to stop taking them (unless you need to for other health related reasons) and see what happens.
  • Sleeping pills can often help deal with hypnagogia, and allows your mind to fall asleep as fast as your body.
  • My personal trick to waking up my body is to simply understand what is happening, once you let go of fear, and realize that the "monsters" you see are not there. You can slowly start trying to move your body, this will let you wake up completely.
  • Another trick I do when I wake up and not be able to move my body, is to simply go back to sleep. Seriously that's it, I wake up -> can't move -> falls back asleep before the monsters start coming in.

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