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What Is Sleep Paralysis and How I Overcame It

I am a dental student in my 3rd year and someone who has experienced dark circle almost all her life.

What Is Sleep Paralysis?

Sleep paralysis is the feeling of being awake while being completely unable to move your body. It is the worst kind of nightmare for anyone who has ever experienced it. There are many versions of sleep paralysis, and the experience is different for each person.

what-is-sleep-paralysis-and-how-i-overcame-it

My Experience:

I started experiencing sleep paralysis around the age of six. I still remember the times when I could hear my mother waking me up for school in the morning but would not be able to respond, even if I wanted to. Over the years, it became a norm for me as I was unaware that it was an actual problem—I always thought it was just in my head.

However, a few years earlier, it took an ugly turn, and the symptoms worsened. The ringing in my ears became louder and the pressure on my chest became heavier. That was when I knew it should not be ignored. So, like what any mature adult should do, I Googled my symptoms and discovered the term "sleep paralysis." I studied the topic some more and was finally able to make sense of everything. I learnt about different people and their completely different experiences; some had only mild symptoms, while others had worse.

There are different types of sleep paralysis, each with their unique symptoms, and I happen to have experienced quite a few of these.

what-is-sleep-paralysis-and-how-i-overcame-it

Loud Ringing:

Some people hear extremely loud ringing in their ears without being able to do anything. It may start as someone whispering in their ears, and then the whispers get louder and louder until it becomes unbearable for the person. At first, it is just one voice but before you know it you find yourself with hundred different voices shouting in your ears. I have experienced this, and let me tell you: I would not wish this on my worst enemy.

what-is-sleep-paralysis-and-how-i-overcame-it

Pressure on the Chest:

This varies from person to person, but most feel a very heavy pressure on their chest—almost like someone is sitting on it. It feels like you are awake but are unable to move your limbs and are completely paralyzed. The pressure may start developing from your foot, moving up to your leg and then to your chest. There are times in which you feel like it's going to crush your chest.

what-is-sleep-paralysis-and-how-i-overcame-it

A Dreadful Feeling:

This is a somewhat milder symptom, but nonetheless, distressing. It starts with a normal, happy dream, and suddenly, the dream starts to change, making no sense at all. For example, I dreamt I was going on a school field trip with my friends. We were sitting on the bus in broad daylight, singing and laughing until suddenly, everything started to go dark. It went from day to night, and my friends disappeared. The windows of the bus were suddenly smashed, and a chilly wind came in. All the while, I was paralyzed in my seat, unable to move until I woke up.

what-is-sleep-paralysis-and-how-i-overcame-it

Hallucinations:

Some people have even reported seeing black shadows moving around their room, interacting with them. This is the worst form of sleep paralysis. This “shadow” was believed to be a demon in old folk tales and was given the name of Night Hag. Now you know the real story behind all those alien abduction stories that you’ve heard or read about!

what-is-sleep-paralysis-and-how-i-overcame-it

Cause:

Although there is not a specific explanation for each of the following symptoms, sleep paralysis is believed to be caused by rapid eye movement (REM) atonia. This is characterized by a very active brain and muscle paralysis. The reason for the inactivity of your muscles is thought to be to prevent you from acting out and potentially harming yourself or those around you.

How I Overcame Sleep Paralysis

  1. Try to maintain a proper sleep cycle. I felt I have always experienced it when my sleep cycle was disrupted in some way.
  2. Don't sleep on your back. All my life I have slept on my back, and according to some therapists, this can press on a nerve at the back of your neck, which can lead to the development of these symptoms.
  3. It is often aggravated by stress, so if your symptoms persist, you should definitely go see a therapist.

References

1) https://www.livescience.com/50876-sleep-paralysis.html

2) https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/sleep-paralysis#1

Feedback

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2018 Saniya Aamir

Comments

Lucid Dreamer on February 01, 2020:

I found the way to get out faster from sleeping paralysis...it's working for me, but i'm not sure will it work for ya.

When i am paralysed, i just fully exhale and wait. (don't breath, and your body should automactly react because of air loss.) It's hard to remember this trick when you are paralysed...but if you do, you will get out of paralysis moment after. Just dont open your eyes and try to calm your ass, you will get out anyway. I was scared about this phenomen 5 years ago but now i sing or laugh when i'm in paralysis. its not scary when you fully aware that you will get out. just don't open your eyes and be patient.

Sachin Khandare on January 24, 2020:

Thanks for your article! I just woke up with a strange nightmare and in last stage of my dream I was near about unable to move! I somehow woke up, stayed calm for a while, took the mobile n was just doing time pass n saw ur article, n by ur article I understood that its a sleep paralysis. Thanks again!

Saniya Aamir (author) from Karachi on September 18, 2018:

Taylor i cant even begin to imagine how scary that must be for you. Like i said everyone has their own versions of sleep paralysis. What i can say is try not to sleep on your back at any cost. I know its much easier said than done, but please know that this is a semi-sleep state, your brain playing games with you and not an evil spirit after you. After you accept this you have to take out any fear you have within you and that is when you will have complete control over it. This helped me, hopefully it helps you too.

If possible please message me.

Taylor on September 18, 2018:

I have had dozens and dozens of sleep paralysis attacks in the past year and a few throughtout high school. I have hallucinations, but they are different then what most people describe them. Yes sometimes I hallucinate in my dreams, but other times, my eyes are open and I can see around my room. I'll hallicinate voices and see and feel things. Once I was dreaming where I was lying in my bed exactly as I was in real life, and I felt something climb onto me and it woke me up. At first I thought it was my roommate, and I laughed at how silly this was for her to lay on top of me, until I remembered she was out of town and then out of panic I tried to get up. As soon as I did, I heard an angry growl, not of an animal or human, directly in my right ear, and the feeling pressed down on me even harder. It let up after about a minute, but that feels like forever when you are paralyzed. I have also been raped and attacked by my hallucinations. I woke up and saw a ghostly hand holding a knife to my throat, the other I felt wrapped around my neck, choking me and I felt myself being violated. And another time I was drawn by a gut feeling that I should look to my right and when my eyes got to my parents armoire, I saw a young girl, very sinisterly smiling, not completely human looking, in the mirror on their armoire, and as soon as I made eye contact with it, I began to feel punches all over my body violently smacking me from head to toe. Another time, I woke up in my room and saw a man standing in my doorway listening to some radio, and watched him walk away and heard my backdoor open and shut, very distinct sound too because of the bell hanging on the knob, called my parents to ask if they were just home, and they said no, plus the door was locked. I know there isn't much I can do. I try not to sleep on my back. But even so, my attacks are pretty traumatizing.

Saniya Aamir (author) from Karachi on July 07, 2018:

Fahim there is not a particular reason for sleep paralysis. There can be numerous reasons. Horror movies dont really cause sleep paralysis. However it can be caused by changed sleeping routine. Try to get him to have a proper sleep routine. Plus always ask him to sleep towards his side. Lying flat can supress a nerve on his neck that may be causing sleep paralysis. Try these. And tell me if it works.

fahim raza on July 07, 2018:

pls send reasons of sleep paralysis 10 years old boy

fahim raza on July 06, 2018:

harror movie is cause kids for sleeping paralysis?

Saniya Aamir (author) from Karachi on May 11, 2018:

Petyo I know exactly what you are talking about. I have experienced something similar. Hopefully you do not experience such symptoms anymore.

Petyo on May 11, 2018:

I have experienced it a few times and there was not only chest pressure but and feeling like someone is trying to suffocate me. Feeling like my heart is going to stop too.

Saniya Aamir (author) from Karachi on May 11, 2018:

Thanks, Cynthia, I hope it helps your son in some way or another. I am sure it was a very scary time for him.

Thanks, Sam Shepards, I hope the article helped. I am sure it was a terrifying experience for you.

Cynthia Zirkwitz from Vancouver Island, Canada on March 03, 2018:

So interesting! I am going to forward this to my son who experienced a sort of hallucinatory dream wherein he had to repeat a prayer (I think-- it was many years ago) perfectly so he could wake up. It was a scary time, I think also very stressful.

Sam Shepards from Europe on March 03, 2018:

Thank you for article. I have an interest in sleep paralysis. I had it a couple of times as a kid.

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