Have you ever had a nightmare? Too scary that you thought it was real?
Imagine having one and not being able to wake up from it. Scary.
I remember experiencing that when I was around 16 years old. I took a nap in our living room couch, no one’s home but me. Then my sister arrived from school, I tried calling her but it seemed like she couldn’t hear me and to my frustration I walked up to her but realized I wasn’t walking, I was rather floating. Knowing it wasn’t real I assumed it was a dream. I suddenly had a hard time breathing, as if someone is sitting on top of me crushing my lungs. I tried moving but I just couldn’t, I tried screaming but apparently my sister couldn’t hear me. I suddenly panicked but was persistent to wake up in this nightmare, luckily my sister she was just in time to end it. She woke me up and I was thankful that she did just before I completely succumb to panic & struggle. A nightmare beyond all nightmares, I just experienced sleep paralysis.
Sleep paralysis consists of a period of inability to perform voluntary movements either at sleep onset (called hypnogogic or predormital form) or upon awakening (called hypnopompic or postdormtal form).
Here’s it’s folklore interpretation:
- A complaint of inability to move the trunk or limbs at sleep onset or upon awakening
- Presence of brief episodes of partial or complete skeletal muscle paralysis
- Episodes can be associated with hypnagogic hallucinations or dream-like mentation (act or use of the brain)
There is no known explanation why some people experience this paralysis. It can be associated with narcolepsy and sometimes it also runs in the family but not in all cases (just like me). It is not harmful, although most people report feeling very afraid because they do not know what is happening, and within minutes they gradually or abruptly are able to move again; the episode is often terminated by a sound or a touch on the body.
How to stop sleep paralysis:
You may be able to minimize the episodes by following good sleep hygiene:
- getting enough sleep
- reduce stress
- exercise regularly (but not too close to bedtime)
- keep a regular sleep schedule
It happened to me more than a few times already and it is still happening as I have observed, it mostly happens when I have irregular sleeping pattern, lacks sleep, stressed, and when my mind is wide awake while my body is too tired.
The thing is, with my sleep paralysis it’s not just a nightmare wherein you’d think things are happening because it really is happening. After my sister woke me up the day I first experienced it, I told her what happened. At first she wasn’t sure and thought that I was playing around but when I told her exactly what it is she was doing when she was waking me up, she suddenly believed me. How can someone “see” or know exactly what it is that’s happening in her surroundings? My mind is wide awake but my body is totally frozen.
Sleep paralysis can happen to anyone and there’s no concrete explanation as to who gets affected and as to what causes it. For me, it still happens but I try to stay calm and in control over it ‘coz if I don’t, I know i’ll panic and it’ll consume me let alone I’d be afraid of sleeping. So if you think you’ve felt it don’t be afraid to share it especially to your family or friends. If it constantly occurs (more than once at least in 3 months) seek professional help.