Science

People Reveal Their Frightening Experiences With Sleep Paralysis

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… Trista - October 31, 2021
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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…

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7. Eventually, you can control it.

“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.”

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6. Consistent good sleep is the key.

“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.” 

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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. 

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4. Sleep paralysis started at an early age.

“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.”

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3. It’s only mildly disturbing.

“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.”

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2. The more you know, the more you can grow.

“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.

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1. Controlling lucid dreams.

“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.”

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