Since I was young I suffered from a sleeping order I didn’t know existed. It wasn’t until I was out of high school that I happened upon it when in the library one day. I can’t remember if I was looking for it or if I just found it. All I know is when I read it my jaw just dropped. I couldn’t believe that what I thought was just nightmares all my life had a name.
Sleep Paralysis (source: wikipedia)
Physiologically, sleep paralysis is closely related to REM atonia, the paralysis that occurs as a natural part of REM sleep. Sleep paralysis occurs either when falling asleep, or when awakening. When it occurs upon falling asleep, the person remains aware while the body shuts down for REM sleep, and it is called hypnagogic or predormital sleep paralysis. When it occurs upon awakening, the person becomes aware before the REM cycle is complete, and it is called hypnopompic or postdormital.The paralysis can last from several seconds to several minutes, with some rare cases being hours, “by which the individual may experience panic symptoms”.
In addition, the paralysis may be accompanied by terrifying hallucinations and an acute sense of danger.Sleep paralysis is particularly frightening to the individual because of the vividness of such hallucinations.The hallucinatory element to sleep paralysis makes it even more likely that someone will interpret the experience as a dream, since completely fanciful or dream-like objects may appear in the room alongside one’s normal vision. Some scientists have proposed this condition as an explanation for alien abductions and ghostly encounters.
Sounds freaky doesn’t it? It was even more concerning to me when I didn’t know what it was. I seem to have more episodes when I was younger and when there are stressful events in my life. What usually happens to me is that I become conscious yet I can not move. It is often, late it states above, followed with panic and the feeling that someone has entered my room. When this is going on I’m doing all that I can to scream or move but it is useless. It is as if I can actually see a figure approaching.
Now that I know what it is I’ve learned how to handle it. When this does happen to me the first thing I have to do is calm myself down. I then take all the energy I can muster to move my pinky. Yes just my pinky and the energy I need is like trying to move something that is way to heavy for you to move alone. I spend the seconds and minutes, I really have no idea how long it takes it just seems like forever, willing my finger to move. Usually once I can get a body part to move I it is a domino effect and I begin to become fully awake. Once I wake up I usually get out of bed and move around to make sure I am awake and not dreaming. Also I need to do this because after all that effort if I don’t wake up fully I can fall right back into the sleep paralysis and I usually have little energy left to deal with it.
I also found through the years a person here or there that has experienced the same thing. It really helps to know that this is a condition and I am not alone. Do you suffer from any sleeping disorders or odd conditions that many people have not heard of?