Have long been intrigued by reports of experiences of people who have sleep paralysis. Long have I wondered what it feels like, today my question was answered as it indeed occurred.
Sleep paralysis is the terrifying sensation where many claim they feel as if they are held down after just waking up or going to sleep. You can’t move or scream, and sometimes this paralysis is accompanied with the certainty that someone –or something — is in the room.
Reports quoting that the sleep paralysis experience is brought on by supernatural phenomena, which is why it has crossed my radar over the years. As with so many things what people do not know or cannot readily explain, often gets attributed to the supernatural. For centuries story of ‘a presence’, which takes the form of ghosts, demons, aliens, goblins to just a strong intense sensation of being watched.
On a week off, have been free to just laze and relax. After my internal body clock woke me up early around 5am, got up and potted around, watched the news and so forth. Eventually around 9am, with no pressure; laid on the sofa and seemingly drifted back in the land of dreams.
Dreams as we all are aware follow their own rules, a combination of our dramatic imagination. Coupled with our concious and unconscious minds playing out a combination of our fantasies, fears, wonders, experiences and events. In a particular dream prior to the waking sleep paralysis, I was aware of painting. Oddly painting a corridor of a location I know. Not enough of a certain colour, planning mentally to acquire more on the following day. Whilst explaining this to another figure person in the dream. As ones mind transitions from dream playing out to a more lucid state, where you become aware that the dream is in fact a dream. Often because you consciously kick in that what just happened cannot occur. Yet you find a balance on the edge of imagination and reality.
I become concious of it being a dream, yet I was unable to move. Unable to ‘wake up’. Could feel myself, willing to move – only unable to do so. I was trying to say, trying to shout out ‘I cannot move’. I’m laying beside someone, and I am trying to wake them to tell them I cannot move. Thus far I was not. So this was happening ‘in the dreamstate’. A merged sensation. My eyes must have opened a little, because I recall looking at the kitchen and I am convinced, there is a ‘presence’. The presence being a very real and visual one. Watching from the kitchen area, standing about 4-5feet tall in dark attire.
Still struggling to move, there is then a sudden movement as my concious perception of the environment kicks in. I say out loud, ‘I was shouting, I could not move.’
In hindsight the sensation of not being able to shout, ‘felt’ a lot like the dreamstate sensation of running away but not getting anywhere. Running in treacle as it often described. There was a very active part dreaming that I was shouting. Though in the waking world I was not.
The presence ‘felt’ very real, would not say danger. Definitely confusion to how a being person or otherwise had gotten there into my personal space without my knowing. A comparsion drawn to discovering something is missing, you ‘know’ it was where you left it. That disassociation in the moment you realize – that you know something you know to be true yet the information before you to fit that doesn’t connect. A strange mental state of baffled confusion.
In this case, investigative-ly; I conclude my eyes when looking to the kitchen in the brief moment I did so. Caught sight of my coat hanging over the back of my PC chair. Silhouetted against the light coming in from the kitchen windows, created a Pareidolia illusion, which carried into the dream of a watching presence. As I must have been ‘dreaming’ that I was looking around the room then after.
Drawing upon another comparison would be the sensation of needing to go to the loo in the morning. You have awoke briefly and come up to lucid mindset, then in dream-state you do go to the toilet. Your mind plays out the trip, after-all you have done so maybe hundreds of time. The perfect illusion. Only to come back to bed. But your body still telling you, you ‘actually’ still need the loo.
Causes of Sleep Paralysis has had many studies over the years, thankfully dispelling the myths of demons sitting on people chests. These sensory experiences are more likely to distress people than mere paralysis alone, according to the study published online in February 2013 in the journal Clinical Psychological Science. Researchers James Cheyne and Gordon Pennycook of the University of Waterloo in Canada surveyed 293 people, on their experiences with sleep paralysis. They found that people were most distressed after an episode when hallucinations felt threatening and when they held supernatural beliefs regarding the cause of the paralysis. Holding a belief whether aliens, djinn, goblins demons and so forth will send your mind straight to that conclusion.
Truth is sleep paralysis occurs when the brain and body aren’t quite on the same page when it comes to sleep. During rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, dreaming is frequent, certainly in Lucid. The body’s muscles are relaxed to the point of paralysis, perhaps a natural occurrence to keep us from ‘acting’ out our dreams physically. Researchers have found that two brain chemicals, glycine and GABA, are responsible for this dream muscle paralysis.
Some reports cite it may happen to people just once or a couple of times in a persons life. Others claim it occurs frequently. Dreams are also driven by our memories, recalls our fears, passions and successes. We do not want to be in a fearful position. Yet our fear of having it occur, keeps the memory alive into our dreams. Where indeed the memory of the fear, actions and inability of assistance play out. So it is likely moreover, this experience is not re-occurring as such with frequency rather it is the impression in the memory and dream that it is. Having now experienced sleep paralysis first hand, it is quite likely I will experience the memory again as i enter a state or thought similar to what happened this time.
Subscribe for newsletter
* You will receive the latest news and updates!
Our Curious World
Richard Freeman | Lake monsters of Siberia
Richard Freeman returns as our guest from the Centre for Fortean Zoology. Cryptozoological field research slowed down dramatically during Lockdown….