What Is Sleep Paralysis and How I Overcame It
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
- Try to maintain a proper sleep cycle. I felt I have always experienced it when my sleep cycle was disrupted in some way.
- 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.
- It is often aggravated by stress, so if your symptoms persist, you should definitely go see a therapist.
Have you ever experienced Sleep paralysis? If yes what were your symptoms?
© 2018 Saniya Aamir