Sleep paralysis an oddity that can strike terror in your nighttime.
In Sleep paralysis an individual, either asleep or awakening, briefly experiences an inability to move, react or speak.
Sleep Paralysis on one side is a normal bodily process while on the other it is one hell of a terrifying sleep disorder.
While many of you might not be aware that it could be your gateway to lucid dream world. There’s so much to say about sleep paralysis.
So, the questions are: How to stop sleep paralysis? What should you do to avoid triggering the horrific hallucinations it causes? And also, how can you turn it into a lucid dream?
What are the causes of Sleep Paralysis?
The most basic cause of sleep paralysis is REM atonia. REM means Rapid Eye Movement. While atonia means lack of muscle tension.
REM is one of the 5 stages of sleep that most of the people experience. It can be characterized by random eye movements and paralysis of the muscles.
When you fall asleep every night, the electrical nerve impulses are cut off between your muscles and brain. Your brain can still tell your body to do stuff (like hide from a creepy horror movie satan in yet another orc-fueled nightmare) but your body won’t respond.
But, what happens if you wake up and REM atonia remains in place, although only for a few seconds? Well, this is where our ride to sleep paralysis began.
The most common reaction to waking up like this Fear. Fear full of terror.
You might then follow up with a hallucination, featuring the sensation of being fully paralyzed and an ugly creature enters your bedroom and stab you with a knife or tries to pull you out of bed. Sometimes the presence may just stand and observe while you float out of bed, as if caught in a tractor beam.
Sleep paralysis not always end with hallucinations, but if it does, it’s common to see ghosts, shadows, aliens, angels, fairies or even any cartoon characters.
Another question arises “How common is sleep paralysis?”
Well, this number varies person to person but it’s likely that you’ll run into sleep paralysis at least once in your lifetime. When experienced during night then it is called sleep disorder.
Sleep paralysis is likely to occur if you’re under stress or you have uneven sleep cycles because of work, jet lags and other sleep disorders.
If it’s only a dream – Why it Feels So Real?
If Sleep Paralysis is only a dream than why it feels so real?
What can you experience during sleep paralysis?
- Your body being fully or partially paralyzed is very real. This may make your chest feel tight, you are still breathing normally. (I’m sure you usually breathe while asleep, right?)
- You’ll feel like a bad guy is attacking you and is compressing your chest. But remember, this is your half-asleep brain rationalizing your limited breathing. Good part is, all the evil things you see during sleep paralysis are not real. If you are hallucinating something bad in your bedroom, just remember: it’s just an illusion. A waking nightmare.
- Footsteps thumping towards the bed. This although is a distortion of the sound of your own heartbeat, pounding in your chest due to the adrenaline.
- Another common feeling is that you might feel like someone is pulling you or you are floating out of your bed. This reflects your mind’s tenuous grip on real-world bodily sensations. When you are unable to feel your body, the mind starts to invent feelings for it.
- And usually, they’re pretty floaty. This is perfectly normal during your so-called out-of-body experiences, which can also be defined as types of lucid dreams.
Sleep Paralysis Society and Culture
The original definition of sleep paralysis was codified by Samuel Johnson in his A Dictionary of the English Language as nightmare, a term that evolved into our modern definition. Such sleep paralysis was widely considered the work of demons, which were thought to sit on the chests of sleepers. In Old English the name for these beings was mare (from a proto-Germanic *marōn, cf. Old Norse mara). Hence comes the mare in the word nightmare. The word might be etymologically cognate to Greek Marōn (in the Odyssey) and Sanskrit Māra.
The night hag is a generic name for a fantastical creature from the folklore of various peoples which is used to explain the phenomenon of sleep paralysis. A common description is that a person feels a presence of a supernatural malevolent being which immobilizes the person as if sitting on his/her chest.
Various cultures have various names for this phenomenon and/or supernatural character. For example, sleep paralysis is referred to as a Pandafeche attack in Italy.
Among Italians the Pandafeche may refer to an evil witch, sometimes a ghost-like-spirit or a terrifying cat-like creature.
Sleep paralysis among Cambodians is known as, “the ghost pushes you down,”. In Egypt, sleep paralysis is conceptualized as a terrifying Jinn attack.
The Jinn (i.e., evil genies) may terrorize and even kill its victims. Sleep paralysis is sometimes interpreted as space alien abduction in the United States.
According to scientists, culture may be a major factor in shaping sleep paralysis. When sleep paralysis is interpreted through a particular cultural filter, it may take on greater salience.
For example, if sleep paralysis is feared in a certain culture, this fear could lead to conditioned fear, and thus worsen the experience, in turn leading to higher rates.
Research has found that sleep paralysis is associated with great fear and fear of impending death in 50% of sufferers in Egypt.
In Denmark, unlike Egypt, there are no elaborate supernatural beliefs about sleep paralysis, and the experience is often interpreted as an odd physiological event, with overall shorter sleep paralysis episodes. Fewer people (17%) fearing that they could die from it.
Documentary on Sleep Paralysis
The Nightmare in 2015 is a documentary that discusses the causes of sleep paralysis through extensive interviews with participants. Their experiences are re-enacted by professional actors.
The “real-life” horror film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival on January 26, 2015 and premiered in theatres on June 5, 2015.
How to stop Sleep Paralysis
So, after all the knowledge about sleep paralysis, now I’ll tell you how to stop sleep paralysis. And yes, also how to change it into a lucid dream.
Prevention is better than cure for those who suffers from sleep paralysis every now and then. Just try to avoid messing up with your sleep. Don’t overdo nightshift work. Overtiredness, sleep deprivation, stress, jet lag are common causes of sleep paralysis.
No matter how much stress you are in during your daytime. Try to avoid stress or any kind of pressure just before sleep. If you’re suffering from chronic stress, attend to that and your sleep paralysis could go away on its own.
If you are up at night and feel like you’re in sleep paralysis, try some of these tips which may help you:
Basic, relaxing your body when in sleep paralysis. Don’t panic or it may increase your chance of having hallucinations.
Try moving your facial muscles and your lips.
Gently move your fingers and toes. This will help your brain that your body is awake.
Move your eyes. Look around the room and blink your eyes. Your goal should be to fully awaken your brain and body together to get out of sleep paralysis.
Another basic, try deep and slow breathing.
Have a positive mental state. Relax your mind. Try to imagine good things like brightness, sun, a beach or anything related to light.
Try the above tips when you have been stuck in sleep paralysis and fear won’t come any closer to you. It might be possible that it may take time for you to get rid of sleep paralysis even after these tips but stay mentally strong, that is of foremost importance.
Once your brain receives adequate signals that now you are awake, REM atonia will end. And now you will be able to move your whole body again and now you’ll be completely in your senses.
Coming to our last question.
How to turn Sleep paralysis into Lucid Dreams
This terrific sleep experience can be your gateway to a whole new world, i.e. Lucid dreams.
You are halfway to a lucid dream as your body is asleep and mind is conscious. This is the first thing being lucid required.
But there is difference as in sleep paralysis. Your eyes are open and you’re stuck in your real physical body while in lucid dream you have your limitless dream body.
The answer is to focus your awareness on re-entering that dream space. On having your brain coordinate movements with a dream body and experiencing that internally generated dream world.
The actual process of transforming sleep paralysis into a lucid dream is simple and you can achieve that by a technique called WILD.
Wild is “Wake-Initiated Lucid Dream” and has been successful in a scientific research. It refers to falling asleep consciously. Its like doing a self hypnosis. Some believes that WILDs are not actual dreams, but are instead astral projection.
For WILDs to occur:
Your body must be completely relaxed. Lie down comfortably when you go back to bed. Now relax your body, starting from your shoulders and working downwards, then back up to the face. This or any other similar relaxation, meditation techniques should make your body feel slightly heavy and relaxed.
All the ways to induce WILD technique involves simultaneously attempting to keep the mind aware while attempting to have the body fall asleep.
If you pay attention to your body while using these techniques, then you will likely enter sleep paralysis (which usually happens after you are already asleep) without losing conscious awareness of your body.
You might get a buzzing sensation which might be unpleasant. These sensations might be so strong that you feel that you will die but don’t worry, this is perfectly safe! This process happens to you every time you sleep, you are just not conscious during it.
If you do not fall asleep, and become completely paralyzed (with the exception of your eyes), do not try to move. Imagine your dream hand going up and leaving your physical hand behind. There you should have two separate bodies, a dream one and a real one. Control your dream body only.
This is possible that after waking up from a dream that you initiated using this technique. You may still be paralyzed. If this phenomenon occurs, it may be accompanied by hallucinations.
Watch the following video for in depth tutorial on how you can easily perform WILD. Here the owner of video has shown 5 easy steps to perform WILD method which can turn your sleep paralysis into a lucid dream.
Finally remember, Sleep paralysis although can hurt you in the beginning but this an unique experience of mind which you can use for a whole new world full of imagination.