“It used to scare the hell out of me. I’ve found that if I focus on moving a toe, then after what seems like a couple of minutes, I can eventually ‘wake up. The only sleep-related thing I have ever experienced that was comparable was when I woke up one morning and didn’t realize that my arms were above my head. Both arms were completely numb from not getting enough blood or something. I went to get out of bed, and suddenly, these two cold arms just flopped out of nowhere and landed on me.”
“Had my stress response sphincter tightening not happened, I probably would have covered the bed….” At least [deleted] can joke now about his possibility of soiling the bed when this happened. This is also another common thing that can happen and scare the daylights out of people. The limbs going numb simply happens when we sleep in an odd position. We just have to give ourselves a minute or two to walk up and get the blood flowing again. If a lot of numbing sensations keep happening, it would be best to speak with your doctor to get things checked out.
“Yep, it’s scary! You try to wake up, try to move a muscle, but you can’t. Also, sometimes when I have it, I feel like I’m floating in the air or something is on top of me. I feel anxiety in general. Sometimes I think someone is coming through my bedroom door to get me. One time I had a vision of a church and stained glass. It seems like from other people’s experiences that this is not uncommon. One time I had it while napping in the backseat of a car. My friend was in the front seat at the time, also napping. While under paralysis, I tried to let him know what was going on because I wanted him to save me from it.”
This might not end well for [deleted], but they continue: “So I tried to stick out my hand and let him know what was going on, but I couldn’t speak, so he didn’t know what I wanted. Then I tried to write on my hand, but it wasn’t getting through. Finally, I woke up and told him what had happened. He was FREAKED OUT. And, of course, I didn’t actually get my hand up at all. That’s the thing about sleep paralysis. You think that with all the mental effort, you might have moved a muscle, but in reality, you haven’t at all.”
“I had a sleep paralysis experience that has one creepy element I can’t explain. Quick background: I was experimenting with high doses of melatonin (an OTC neurohormone) in an attempt to intensify my dreams. It’s a common side effect of melatonin and one I greatly enjoyed. One night, at a B&B with my girlfriend, I had a classic episode of sleep paralysis — paralyzed, terrified, and afraid of something malignant in the room. I eventually fell back asleep, but it was really, truly terrifying while it lasted.” Profpan explains, but what could it be in the room? An alien, a man in a trench coat, or a demon?
“Here’s the weird part; When I woke up the next morning and looked in the bathroom mirror, I had a bright red handprint on my chest. It was very distinct, and the fingers were long. And there were 6 of them: 5 fingers and one thumb. My girlfriend and I tried to come up with an explanation, but nothing fit. I couldn’t twist my hand into the position, so it wasn’t like I had been sleeping on my hand — the positioning was not something I could match even with stretching and contorting. And the imprint was so distinct it looked like it had been painted on. It faded after a few minutes. I have no idea what caused it, nor have I found any plausible explanation after thinking about it over the course of 10+ years.”
“I have these episodes often. There are weird and terrifying dreams, feelings of strangulation, and impending death. Typically, my wife ends up waking me up because I am gasping for breath. The weirdest thing is that most often, the setting of my nightmare is the same as my current environment. I just “transition” into sleep at some point. As a result, these nightmares are vivid, realistic, and quite horrifying. The most terrifying of these nightmares happened to me about three years ago. I dreamed that I was in a long hallway of what appeared to be some sort of mental hospital. I walked down a long, dimly lit corridor of locked rooms, each with a sturdy door with a tiny observation window on it.” The Reddit user, [deleted], explains something that can be the most terrifying thing of all – when the lines of reality get blurred, and we aren’t sure what’s real and what isn’t.
“I approached one particular door, which had a bloody fingerprint on it, and peered in. It contained a disturbed bed and otherwise was empty, but suddenly I had the feeling that I was no longer alone. I looked down the hall in time to see a shadow in the shape of a human figure walking toward me. So, I stood fixed in terror, and the shadow walked through me. I felt myself begin to die as if my body suddenly quit functioning. I can barely describe the sensation. It was a mental and physical absence of the will to live as a void opened within me. I was terrified. But, I was awakened shortly after by my wife. I was seemingly unable to breathe and was struggling about in bed. Weird.”
“I used to do it on purpose to try and lucid dream. EDIT: I used to be huge into sleep and dreaming and read a few books on lucid dreams. It turns out, sleep paralysis is a great way to go straight from consciousness into a dream (with absolutely no lapse in between). This is a documented scientific fact. Our brain paralyzes us before we hit REM sleep. Sleep paralysis is basically, so you don’t move while dreaming. Your eyes move; they are not paralyzed. But if anything else moved, you might harm yourself. People commonly experience sleep paralysis when waking up from a dream too fast and the brain not realizing it quite in time.”
“Sleep paralysis is totally harmless and happens to you EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. You just don’t know it. That being said, some people can get stuck in sleep paralysis for hours, being fully aware of their situation but being powerless to stop it. In sleep paralysis, I floated above my bed and flipped over. This is where out-of-body experiences are reported (and they’re all attributed to sleep paralysis). Also, people claiming to be abducted by aliens are a huge factor. I’d say most “paranormal” activity that occurs around sleeping time is sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis and sleeping, in general, is a cool subject.” Trident gum sounds like a real sleep expert, as he should be researching for years on the subject.
9. Is it because of not enough sleep and too much coffee?
“I experienced it quite a bit during my college years. At first, I nearly thought it was something supernatural as I would wake up paralyzed and see figures standing off in the edges of view while hearing whispering voices. One time it was extremely vivid where I woke to see a little girl sitting at the edge of my bed and an older woman standing a ways off with her back to me. The little girl said something to me, but after fighting out of the paralysis, I couldn’t remember what she had said…”
“After a bit of research, I came across one theory that made logical sense. The theory was that lack of REM sleep could cause it to kick in prematurely — locking out motor ability and dreaming before you’re physically asleep. I’m not sure how plausible that is, but it’s the most logical explanation I’ve heard. At the time, I was living on probably 4hrs of sleep a night and drinking coffee by the pot. I sleep more and drink less nowadays, but I still experience it mildly from time to time.” jeptu makes an interesting observation with the sleep factors – do you also lack a good night’s sleep? Are you drinking too much caffeine? Try something. Otherwise, sleep paralysis could become more likely.
8. If you can control your breathing, then it will be okay.
“Once, when I was three or four, I had some sort of nightmares and fled to my parents’ room. They made me a bed of blankets next to their bed. I was drifting off on the floor next to my dad’s side when I swear I heard him say loudly and clearly, “I’m going to kill you.” I lay there in utter terror, for I don’t know how long. More recently, I was taking a quick nap in my car before doing a long bike ride. I woke up (probably snored myself awake). My seat was reclined, and my head was tilted back a bit, so I probably was snoring like mad and having a hard time breathing. I lay there for what felt like minutes, unable to move. The car felt stiflingly hot (it was warm, but the windows were cracked), and I couldn’t breathe. I was convinced that I was asphyxiating.”
Tomatopaste continues: “I lay there and focused very hard on breathing. I slowly was able to take shallow breaths. I took deeper and deeper breaths until things returned to normal and I “woke up.” Only now have I associated the first childhood episode with the more recent occurrence. Other incidents: I awoke and watched shadowy figures stealing things from my bedroom as a child. I was afraid to do anything, certain they would kill me. I eventually drifted off and, of course, awoke to find everything as I had left it. Another time I woke up in the morning and was convinced the Canadian Mountie figure that my grandparents gave me was moving on the window sill. I awake on occasion to see a rat running across the ceiling or something running through the room. Oh man, now I am sooo f*&%$d for getting to sleep tonight…
“I used to get it all the time in high school. Oftentimes there would be a hooded grim reaper-type character standing over me. He would envelop me in some kind of bluish force field and lift me up off the bed. I had the feeling this dude was evil incarnate, but I couldn’t move or scream-scary crap. Other times, I was just paralyzed in bed, and I felt like there was an ominous presence, but I didn’t see anything. After reaching a certain level of panic, I would wake up. It happened fairly often, so I started to be able to control it if I concentrated. I got to where I could move, though it felt like there were 1,000 lbs crushing me. Usually, I could just flop out of my bed and crawl along the floor. One time I made it to the next room.” jwill says, and this would be a terrifying way of sleepwalking!
“This also leads to some out-of-body experiences. Usually just floating above myself in my room. A few times, I was able to cruise around the house or neighborhood. At this point, it started to become less scary and more fun, although there was almost always a bit of an uneasy feeling to it. Eventually, I started to have some lucid dreams. I would be able to walk around and consciously interact with the environment. Usually, I still felt weighed down and would have to struggle intensely to walk around. The most memorable time, I ended up in my buddy’s basement. There were a bunch of children sitting around. They all looked at me like, “WTH are you doing here?” One little girl, in particular, looked at me with this really strange expression. Then she just started laughing. Then, I can’t remember exactly what she said, but it was something like, “you’re moving with your auntie and uncle to Bel-Air.” True story.”
“Hmm. I think I have experienced this from time to time, where I think I hear a really loud noise or something when half-awake, and there’s nothing there. I’ve always just assumed it was part of a dream or something. It’s never really startled me. (When I’m waking up, I’m usually half in and half out of a dream state for a good 30 minutes, so I’m used to it, I guess.) An interesting thing to note, though after reading the Wikipedia article on the syndrome… I occasionally have little episodes of hmm, almost like someone repeating something in a different language (completely unintelligible, repeat it if I tried) in my head.”
Amazing has this terrifying experience, but it’s not the first time we’ve heard it. Often in horror movies, we see the use of other languages that the main character doesn’t know – making it scarier. This Reddit user continues: “It’s repetitive, and SEEMS very loud. Any other noise will drown it out. It usually happens in a white noise setting like a shower. It was very disturbing at first, and I would usually have to put on some music or something to make it go away, and it hasn’t happened for a very long time. I suspect that my sleep schedule returning to normal has had something to do with its infrequency now.”
5. Let’s play scary sounds in the background to set the tone.
“This happened to me rather frequently when I was very young (under six years old). I apparently have grown out of it; I can’t recall it happening after I was perhaps nine or ten. I’m 26 now. When it happened to me, I could clearly see an outline of a body from the waist up – almost like a police chalk line around a dead body... but just a black background and a “thick” white/hollow outline of a body. And from the bottom of the torso up, the outline was “filling” with red on both sides, evenly. It was happening very slowly. I seem to remember haunting/scary sounds echoing in the background, but nothing specific.”
“I got the distinct impression that when the red filled up all the way to the top of the body/head, I would die. So I remember being absolutely terrified. If I tried really hard, I could “choose” to make it stop, and then I would become semi-aware of lying in bed with my eyes closed, usually in the morning with the sunlight coming in – but I couldn’t move at all. I couldn’t open my eyes, and I couldn’t make a sound. If I relaxed and stopped trying to wake up, I would go back to seeing the body outline again.” gameforge has the ability to control the lucid dream at least, while others just simply can’t.
“The first time this happened to me was absolutely the scariest thing that ever happened to me or my family. I was around 6 or 7 and had fallen asleep on the couch (on my back). I remember having that feeling you get when something bad is about to happen and suddenly realizing I couldn’t move. Then there was a sensation of something moving up my legs toward my chest. Suddenly there was this heavy weight on my chest, and my eyes opened to see this thing I can only describe as a demon sitting on me grinning like a madman. The thing wrapped its claws around my neck and started strangling me. “Tat2ts is younger than most of our stories here; imagine being a child experiencing these terrifying situations.
“I finally woke up to my mother shaking me violently, screaming for me to wake up. I had stopped breathing and was starting to turn blue. Needless to say, it scared the crap out of both of us. The one thing that really sticks out was how tired I was like I had really been struggling to move with every ounce of my strength. That was the only time that was that intense. I have sleep paralysis fairly regularly (2-3 times a month) but thankfully no hallucinations. My wife has figured out when this is happening. My breathing becomes very erratic, and I can usually shake free of the paralysis enough to move my hand. She will wake me up and make me turn on my side. I usually wake in the morning feeling like I’ve had no sleep at all.”
“This happens to me a few times a year, most recently last month. It used to really freak me out until I read about it – now it’s just mildly disturbing. As far as I understand (and from the experiences I’ve had), the brain is basically still asleep (with motor functions disabled). However, somehow fully conscious and processing the dream state overlayed on top of reality. It’s sort of a reality feedback loop. It mostly happens when I’m napping outside of my regular sleep schedule. I have to be lying in bed, but it happens when I’m on my back and side.”
Chroko has even more observations during sleep paralysis: “Usually I’m aware of somebody in the room (but they aren’t there when I wake up). I’ve only ever seen something once – I saw a Giger Alien (from the movie Aliens) on the ceiling directly above my bed, hissing at me. Once I could hear someone reading (pages turning), and their presence was strangely comforting – but I couldn’t see them. The worst part, though, is that when it happens, I always have to fight through and wake up – because I become conscious of my heartbeat and am terrified I’m going to die if I just go back to sleep.”
“I’ve not experienced it, but I’ve heard a number of people bring it up to me. I once saw it happening in 2006 when one of my roommates just wouldn’t wake up for class. He was lying on his back, eyes pretty much open, non-responsive. Later that day, he told us what had happened. I had a friend who converted to Christianity partly on the basis that he believed in spirits and demons (from sleep paralysis + native American beliefs). He’d had a number of traumatic sleeping incidents where he saw vivid hallucinations of girls in dresses, shadowy figures, the usual list of things you hear in sleep paralysis cases.”
“I revealed that to him and, among a few other things, it eventually convinced him to reconsider the validity of a lot of his superstitious beliefs. For many people, they just lack an obvious explanation for many phenomena that occur and seek out a higher power. Seriously though, just linking him to the Wikipedia article on sleep paralysis was eventually enough to break him of his spell before he got too into it. His personality has really returned since he got off the Jesus train.” huxtiblejones could more be supportive of his friend if he did have certain beliefs, but it is also good to have all the information needed. It was good of them to show him the information on sleep paralysis too.
“Yes, four times that I can recall. The first two were immediately after the death of a relative and were accompanied by strong feelings of a presence in the room. If I were religious, I might have taken this as proof of an afterlife. Lucid dreams accompanied the third and fourth. The third time, I had the distinct feeling of floating out of my bed. As I regained from the paralysis and began to move, I believed I felt static discharge through my limbs and heard a buzzing, crackling sound. Hallucinations, of course. The lucid dream itself ended with a “game over” screen, which I thought particularly interesting.”
[deleted] continues: “The fourth time was intentional. I was able to remain conscious during the initial stages of sleep and enter REM into a lucid dream. There were no crazy hallucinations, just a feeling that I “sank” into my bed. The lucid dream itself wasn’t terribly exciting. However, I did note that it was in full color and seemed to start as a small rectangle in my field of vision. It was progressively expanding to become all I could “see.” I haven’t been able to control my lucid dreams much, although in one case, I made an evil robot disappear so that it wouldn’t kill me.”