My Experience Of Sleep Paralysis

Coping With Sleep Paralysis

I’ve got to be honest, this is a post I didn’t think I’d ever be writing, however, over the last week I have experienced something quite horrible and it’s something that I hope I don’t experience again soon. Sleep Paralysis.

The first episode of sleep paralysis

It happened for the first time just over a week ago. I was getting ready for bed. I always check on the Little Man before I settle down so I did that and then got myself into bed. I have a little routine, I pop to the bathroom and then go and make sure his light is off (he has one of those children’s ceiling lights with dimmer switch). I went off to sleep as normal and shortly after dozing off I must have had a nightmare. I was dreaming that there was somebody in my house. It felt so very real. The dream was based in the upstairs of my house and in the rooms, I had been in before going to bed. It was all taking place at night time too and it was the same routine I had done just before I went to bed, even down to turning the light off. It was as if it was happening in real time. I think this is why it felt so real.

I can remember being lay in bed in my dream and knowing there was someone on the landing and all I could think about was my little boy in the other room. I tried to call out to my husband but nothing came out. I tried and tried with all my might but all I could manage was a whisper. So, I tried to get up and it was like there was dead weight on top of me. I couldn’t move no matter how hard I tried. It was hopeless. I have never been so frightened as I was there in the middle of the night.

Then the second

I don’t know how but eventually I managed to pull myself out of it. Of course, I then drifted back off to sleep only for it to happen again soon after. I don’t remember the story behind this dream but it was much the same all over again.

On waking properly the second time, I came to the conclusion that I needed to break my sleep cycle and after lying in the dark petrified for a few minutes, I grabbed my phone and looked up these horrible symptoms. The first thing that came up was sleep paralysis. On reading about it, it all kind of made sense.

What is Sleep Paralysis?

Good question. It’s easier if I let the professionals explain. This is what WebMD says about Sleep Paralysis:

A person experiencing sleep paralysis will find they are temporarily unable to move or speak when they wake up, or are falling asleep. This paralysis can last from seconds to minutes. While it can be frightening, sleep paralysis is not harmful to the body or overall health. Sleep paralysis may affect someone just once, or it may happen frequently, sometimes several times a night.

Sleep paralysis is a feeling of being conscious but unable to move. It occurs when a person passes between stages of wakefulness and sleep. During these transitions, you may be unable to move or speak for a few seconds up to a few minutes. Some people may also feel pressure or a sense of choking.

Up to as many as four out of every 10 people may have sleep paralysis. This common condition is often first noticed in the teenage years. But men and women of any age can have it. Sleep paralysis may run in families. Other factors that may be linked to sleep paralysis include:

  • A lack of sleep
  • A sleep routine that changes
  • Mental health conditions such as stress or bipolar disorder
  • Sleeping on the back
  • Other sleep problems such as narcolepsy or night-time leg cramps
  • Use of certain medications
  • Substance abuse

So, by the time I had finished reading all of this it was pretty clear that it was what I was suffering from, but to this day I don’t understand why it happened to me so randomly. I have been getting much more sleep recently, down to a new routine that I’ve started and so the only thing that I can relate to from that list is that I was asleep on my back. At least I was the first night it happened.

The third episode

It happened again a couple of nights later and I know I was asleep on my side. The nightmare this time was that I was being bundled into my wardrobe in the corner of the bedroom, just a short distance from my bed and I was helpless.

Thankfully, this time because I had done my research I was able to tell myself that it wasn’t real and to try and keep calm. I’d read that wriggling a toe or finger is a way to bring your body out of the paralysis. Thankfully it worked.

It’s more common than you think

Obviously, after experiencing this I was keen to find out what other people’s experiences of it were and so I asked some blogger friends if they had ever suffered from this and I was astounded by the response I got. Take a look.

Coping With Sleep Paralysis


Karina
, mumsthenerd.co.uk – I never experienced it until I reached my late 20’s, then all of a sudden it seemed to be a regular occurrence. It’s definitely stress induced for me. I remember the first time it happened, the dream was so vivid. It’s such a terrifying experience, I try to avoid sleeping on my back now as that seems to be a trigger.

Sophia, tattooedtealady.com – I’ve had sleep paralysis since I was a child, but only realised what it was when studying Psychology at University, as it’s something we covered in lectures. It was amazing to finally know what exactly I had been experiencing for most of my life! I’ve had them for so long now that mostly, I can manage it and not panic as much as I used to. It’s horrible to experience though, it can be quite terrifying!

Georgina, geegardner.co.uk –  I have suffered from sleep paralysis randomly since a child. It’s terrifying and has made me afraid to sleep in the past. I find not sleeping on my back helps and also if I’m having an episode, concentration on moving my little finger helps bring me out of it.

Janet, falcondalelife.com – I suffer from it less now as I’m careful not to sleep on my back, which was my trigger. If I do rest on my back I use an extra pillow and make sure I have one hand free of the duvet. I had self-hypnosis training once, and the hypnotherapist told me that being able to wake myself from hypnosis would help me if sleep paralysis happened again. Hypnosis feels nice though, and sleep paralysis doesn’t!

Karen, grumpyishmum.co.uk – I suffered with it years ago. I couldn’t move, talk, or make any noise. I could only control the way I was breathing to try and get my husband’s attention. It lasted for months but went away on its own. Stress-induced.

Eva, captainbobcat.com – I’ve had it so many times! Not in the past few months luckily (probably because I’m so sleep deprived they stopped) but before that very often. To me, it always happens in the early morning hours or during an afternoon nap (they made me stop having an afternoon nap altogether). It’s something like your mind is fully awake but you can’t move your body and you try to scream and move and you can’t. Often you know what’s happening, thinking oh no, not again. It’s very scary. Sometimes, I was able to stop it by calming down, telling myself you know what’s happening, it will be over in a bit – but I’m not always fully awake to realise this. It’s a weird thing for sure!

Katy, katykicker.com – I suffer from sleep paralysis. When I lay there I find it helps to focus on moving my little finger first. Then slowly but surely I’m able to move more and come out of it. It’s so scary though!

Kaiden, kaidenlaverty.com – I had it throughout my childhood, up until I was around 20 years old. It then started happening only when I was stressed after that. Having it happen to you is one of the scariest things – as a child, I NEVER slept in my own bed because of it, I slept on the floor beside my parent’s bed. I would be just drifting off to sleep and suddenly, I would get a weird sensation run throughout my body and I couldn’t move. I would scream out for someone but according to them, all they heard was a slight noise. My Mum soon learnt that it was me asking her to wake me up. But most of the time, she never heard and all I could do was stay there and wait for it to pass. Over the years, I learnt the signs that it was going to happen and could wriggle myself out of it. My body would start to ‘paralyze’ but if I focused hard enough, I could get my arms to work and then the rest of my body would then start working too.

Nikki, glamandgeekymum.com – I experience a version of sleep paralysis quite frequently when I’m under large amounts of stress. The reason I call it a form of sleep paralysis is it matches sleep paralysis for all but one symptom, I never get the sense of dread or fear that others report. I get very frustrated when I can’t move but never scared. The trick to breaking off sleep paralysis though is not to fight it with your entire body. By concentrating on moving just one small body part (for me I wiggle my toe) it allows me to break from it. I’ve heard that works for a lot of other people too.

Epril, epsandamy.co.uk – I’ve had a really scary nightmare once, dreaming about a ghost in our house and As If like I’m awake. And in my dreams I’m trying to fight the ghost or soul by praying, I’m also shouting as in scared in my dreams. Thank God my husband woke me up as he says that he can hear me like talking or making a sound. My daughter said that was a sleep paralysis as I’m trying to do something but I can’t, even though I thought I was shouting. I think it’s a good idea if someone will wake you up if that will ever happen to you or also try to pray or move your finger. It’s like your conscious but your in a different world or situation which is out of your control. It’s hard to describe but it’s so scary. I think this happened to me few times and every time I’ve had it, I always try to pray or just fight it. This thing happened also to my husband and I knew it whenever he makes that sounds so I just woke him up and he thanked me for that as he’s having a bad dream.

Kim, brummiegalincardiff.co.uk – My Dad use to get this regularly – My mom said she always knew he was like it cos she could hear him make a slight noise ( he said he would be shouting at her ) so she would wake him up – he always thanked her xxx I’ve had it a couple of times and I honestly thought I was shouting too but woke up to hubby sleeping !haha! I felt like something /someone was sitting on my chest.

Sarah, whimsicalmumblings.co.uk – I’ve seen my husband suffer from it in the past. He told me I shouldn’t wake him but he did ask me to put the light on. It looked like a normal nightmare to me apart from he was having a normal conversation with me like he was awake!

 

I realise there are quite a few here, so well done if you have got to the end of this post! I included all of the responses I received because everybody’s experience is very different and I didn’t want to miss any out. Certainly after reading this, I know that this is definitely what I’ve experienced. It’s also reassuring to know that I’m not being silly by being frightened by it. I can’t describe how awful it is. There’s nothing worse than feeling so helpless when you feel your life is in danger, even if it isn’t real!

If anything, I hope this post helps someone who may have experienced sleep paralysis and hadn’t realised it. You are normal – WE are normal. But knowing how to cope with it I think is half the battle.

 

Have you any experience of sleep paralysis? How do you cope? Let me know in the comments.

 

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37 Comment

  1. Reply
    Heather Keet
    22nd January 2018 at 7:51 am

    That is so frightening! I had no idea it was such a common thing. #AnythingGoes

  2. Reply
    cheshiresentutor
    22nd January 2018 at 8:01 am

    This sounds terrifying, you poor thing! Can’t imagine how scary it was. I’m focusing on sleep on my blog this week so it really caught my attention on #anythinggoes linky. Il be sharing!

  3. Reply
    Daddy Poppins
    23rd January 2018 at 6:46 am

    This has happened to my wife before. I csmt imagine how scary it would be.

  4. Reply
    Chloe
    23rd January 2018 at 7:04 am

    Gosh how frightening I had never come across sleep paaralysis until I read your post. Thanks for sharing both yours and other personal experiences to highlight this #TriumphantTales

  5. Reply
    blogofdadjames
    23rd January 2018 at 8:11 am

    Wow, that sounds intense! I get the opposite… my wife can’t get me to stop moving. Just the other night I woke her up to tell her about a frog in the bedroom… there was no frog. #TriumphantTales

  6. Reply
    passion fruit, paws and peonies
    23rd January 2018 at 8:21 am

    I’m mot sure if it counts but I get this towards the end of a nightmare – so it’s impossible for me to escape what ever is happening. Since I’ve started my HTR I’ve not had many nightmares are they aren’t as vivid – thank goodness. To wake up and feel frozen must be terrifying! x

  7. Reply
    Helen aka Welsh Mum Writing
    23rd January 2018 at 1:31 pm

    I began suffering from these in my early teens – more than thirty years ago now which feels a bit insane. I didn’t know what it was at the time and never spoke about it. It was terrifying but thankfully not very frequent, perhaps once every month or two, and then long periods with nothing. I always suffered with night terrors although thankfully I don’t have any real recollection of them – I tend to have a vague notion that’s somethings happened in the night and I’m extra tired.It wasn’t until my late twenties that I heard about sleep paralysis and that made it a lot more manageable and less scary. I now would only get them at times of severe exhaustion and stress. I haven’t had an episode for a very long time now, not since my son was born. I know there are triggers which make it more likely so I avoid them #triumphanttales.

  8. Reply
    Zoe
    23rd January 2018 at 1:36 pm

    This sounds absolutely terrifying. I often have nightmares, but I’m able to rouse myself fairly quickly. Our minds really do play the oddest of tricks on us. #triumphanttales

  9. Reply
    Jean | DelightfulRepast.com
    23rd January 2018 at 1:44 pm

    This sounds like what happened to my mother once when I was a teenager. She had fallen asleep on the couch, was awakened by a noise, couldn’t move or speak. Not being able to move just lasted a few seconds, but when she opened the front door and saw someone siphoning gas out of the car’s gas tank (the noise she had heard), she still couldn’t speak or make a sound. I don’t remember how long that lasted. Scary! Hope you don’t have any more incidents. #TriumphantTales

  10. Reply
    One Hull of a Dad
    23rd January 2018 at 1:56 pm

    This has never happened to me before but i have heard of it. It surprises me how common it is though! Thanks for hosting 🙂 #TriumphantTales

  11. Reply
    David
    23rd January 2018 at 2:10 pm

    I’d never heard of that before I read this. Sounds a bit scary! #TriumphantTales

  12. Reply
    Becki Svare
    23rd January 2018 at 2:27 pm

    how frightening!! I had this happen when I was a kid, but thankfully not as an adult. I didn’t realize there was a name for it?!

  13. Reply
    Bec
    23rd January 2018 at 2:57 pm

    That sounds really scary. I have heard of quite a few people who have had this. It must feel very confusing. #TriumphantTales

  14. Reply
    endardoo
    23rd January 2018 at 3:08 pm

    Gosh, how scary> I must admit I had never heard of this condition

  15. Reply
    Annabel
    23rd January 2018 at 4:31 pm

    Yikes, sounds nasty! Hope it doesn’t happen again. #triumphanttales

  16. Reply
    oldhouseintheshires
    23rd January 2018 at 6:22 pm

    That sounds so scary! Poor you. I hope you carry on working through how to overcome it. #triumphanttales

  17. Reply
    mightymamabear2017
    23rd January 2018 at 8:36 pm

    It sounds terrifying, you poor thing. My husband had this when he was young and he still remembers it so vividly. It sounds awful #anythinggoes

    1. Reply
      mightymamabear2017
      24th January 2018 at 7:39 pm

      Popping back for #twinklytuesday

  18. Reply
    Kat - Confessions of a Working Mum
    23rd January 2018 at 9:34 pm

    Gosh that sounds terrifying! I hope it’s only a temporary thing for you. Good to know what to do if it happens in future x #triumphanttales

  19. Reply
    viewfromthebeachchair
    23rd January 2018 at 11:19 pm

    I have never heard of that? What a horrible thing to happen! #triumphanttales

  20. Reply
    jeremy@thirstydaddy
    24th January 2018 at 3:08 am

    I remember coming across this when I was doing research ( googling ) when my daughter started sleep walking. Its weird how common some of this stuff is but so rarely talked about #familyfun

  21. Reply
    RainbowsR2Beautiful (@rainbowsaretoo)
    24th January 2018 at 3:57 pm

    Oh I’ve had this! Totally terrifying. Makes me feel a bit sick remembering it. #triumphanttales

  22. Reply
    Amy - The Rolling Baby
    24th January 2018 at 5:56 pm

    Oh my goodness! This sounds so scary. It’s not something I’ve ever experienced or anyone have told me they’ve experienced before, so thank you for making me aware of it. #TriumphantTales

  23. Reply
    tammymum
    25th January 2018 at 8:18 am

    Gosh how frightening. I don’t think I have ever really heard of it before, at least not in detail anyway. What a horrible thing to happen, I would feel so vulnerable. I hope you don’t have another one lovey! Thanks for joining us at #familyfun

  24. Reply
    motherhoodtherealdeal
    25th January 2018 at 6:21 pm

    Wow I had no idea this was a thing or that so many people experience it….it sounds scary! Thanks for sharing this with #coolmumclub…I wonder how many other people this post will unearth? xoxo

  25. Reply
    modernmum82
    25th January 2018 at 8:12 pm

    Oh my goodness! That sounds awful! I have never experienced this thank god but i am so pleased i havecread about it x hope you are ok and it isnt becoming common xxx

  26. Reply
    Neil
    25th January 2018 at 8:27 pm

    That sounds terrifying! I’ve never heard of it before nor can I think of anyone over mentioning anything similar. I’m constantly amazed at what our bodies and brains can do. #TriumphantTales

  27. Reply
    The Rhyming Mum
    26th January 2018 at 6:57 am

    I didn’t realise so many people I know had experienced it too until I shared my blog on it.It’s not something people tend to talk about but it’s much easier to deal with when you know what it is.

  28. Reply
    Jo - Pickle & Poppet
    26th January 2018 at 9:57 pm

    Oh my goodness, this must have been so scary. I’ve never (touch wood) experienced this, I do suffer with sleep walking when tired and that can be scary enough but not being able to move must be terrifying #TriumphantTales

  29. Reply
    Helen Gandy
    27th January 2018 at 7:57 pm

    This is fascinating to read, I have had this happen a few times and it is very scary.Thanks for sharing with the #BloggersBest

  30. Reply
    Heather Keet
    28th January 2018 at 8:52 am

    I’m back with #DreamTeam

  31. Reply
    Kate on thin ice (@kateonthinice)
    28th January 2018 at 10:12 am

    Awful for you and I have never heard of it before. Good on you raising awareness – these type of posts always help other people. Might be worth a visit to the GP to get some basic health checks done. #TriumphantTales

  32. Reply
    talesoftwochildren
    28th January 2018 at 10:45 am

    I’ve never suffered from this, but I’m sure it’s as scary as it sounds. The lack of control must be almost suffocating. Enlightening. Great post.
    #TriumphantTales

  33. Reply
    Katy - Hot Pink Wellingtons
    29th January 2018 at 6:54 pm

    This sounds absolutely terrifying, and it’s clearly far more common than you’d think. It’s fascinating and scary to read everyone’s experiences, but some great tips for getting out of it if it does ever happen to me. I’m not sure I’d remember them in the heat of the moment though. Thanks for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  34. Reply
    Mrs Mummy Harris (@mummyharris86)
    29th January 2018 at 9:59 pm

    oh gosh this sounds horrible! I’d dread to experience this once let alone more! Hopefully it’s the last you’ve seen of them! #sharingthebloglove

  35. Reply
    Laura (@dearbearandbean)
    30th January 2018 at 11:10 am

    I suffered with sleep paralysis when I had serve sleep deprivation. It’s a really horrible experience and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  36. Reply
    Marie Evans
    9th February 2018 at 9:43 pm

    Noticed your Twitter link.I was wondering if it was similar to what I have but seems not.Yours must be so frightening.What I have happen is my eyes open but my body is still asleep it’s like my body feels heavy,I can lie there just moving my eyes not head but no soon as I move something just a little finger will do it & my whole body wakes.But mine is not paralysis & I don’t wake up from a nightmare,I ask pple if they have had it & they look at me strange,What ! Your eyes are open & your bodies still asleep! They say.

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