Post # 1
This is a bit random and nwr….
I’ve heard of sleep paralysis in the past and had a vague idea of what it is, but my understanding was that the body naturally does this at certain stages of sleep to keep us inanimate while we rest.
I’ve struggled with severe insomnia off and on since my freshman year in college. Last night was rough and I was tossing and turning for a few hours (my boyfriend and I don’t currently live together, so I sleep alone). At some stage I began to drift off, but then experienced actual Sleep Paralysis for the first time. It was a HORRIBLE and terrifying experience.
I was fully conscious and lying on my stomach, but my entire body seized in the position I was trying to rest in, and I became hyper aware of my position, the light level in the room, and the overwhelming feeling of someone lying on top of me. It literally felt like someone else was in the room, and that they were holding me down. I felt so much pressure on my body, a feeling of squeezing on my arms when I tried frantically to move. I tried to yell to get my body to wake the eff up, but only this weird, breathy sound came rushing out of my mouth. I couldn’t move a muscle at ALL for what seemed like an extended period of time, and it felt like someone was whispering loudly to me – but it was just my fan pulsing kind of loudly in the corner, I think.
It was so weird. I was trying so hard to move and was so freaked out that it felt like I kept floating a little bit above my body. After 5 minutes or so it just ebbed away and I was able to slowly start moving again – it was like my whole body had fallen asleep. I was super freaked out – and wishing my bf were with me! Exhaustion finally got me to sleep.
I know this sounds crazy, but has anyone else experienced this? If so, did it feel paranormal like this? Or am I going nuts
Naturally I’ve been researching causes of this and it seems that it’s not serious unless it becomes frequent, but it sure felt serious to me at the time, lol 😛
Post # 2
YES. Like you, I’ve always sort of struggled with sleep, I also worked full-time overnight shifts for years. I used to get sleep paralysis ALL the time. Thankfully now I only experience it occasionally. Oddly, it’s NEVER happened when my husband is in bed with me! I wish it had so I could ask him if anything acctually comes out of my mouth when I’m trying to scream. It happens occasionally now in the brief period he leaves for work before I wake up myself, or if I’m napping and he isn’t home. He also recently went away on a work trip and it happened to me for the first time in awhile. SO Weird.
Anyway, my experience is very similiar to what you describe, except I’m usually on my back, I don’t sleep on my stomach. I cannot move and I hear voices, sometimes I’ve seen a dark shadowy person in my room walking toward me, I try to scream for help or get up and I am completely paralyzed, like an elephant is sitting on my chest. Other times I don’t see anyone in my room, but I’ll hear weird noises out in the living room or kitchen, like I’ll “hear” someone opening the front door and being present in my house when I know no one is home. Again, can’t move or scream. Eventually, it wears off and I can slowly get up like you said but I feel SUPER lethargic. It is AWFUL. I’ve no idea the cause, sleeping alone/working nights and weird schedule/no idea. I’ve found sleeping on my side makes it less likely to happen, and as I said I’ve never once had it unless I was in bed alone. Hugs bee! I’m interested to hear more stories.
Post # 3
I took a health psychology course when I was doing my psych degree, and we had a guest speaker that was a sleep researcher. He said it is really normal. If I remember correctly (this was over 4 years ago), it happens when we are coming out of REM sleep. REM sleep is when we have the most vivid dreams, and the only part of us that can move is our eyes. So we are kind of conscious, but still kind of asleep. Its like you are dreaming a little, but also awake, but you also cannot move. Anyway, he said that if you experience this to try and move your eyes back and forth and it may trigger the rest of you to wake up.
It is really freaky when it happens. Once in a blue moon it happens to me, and I hate it. Once I was staying in a hotel with my mom for a basketball tournament in high school, and I woke up, but the room was on fire and I couldn’t move or talk to tell my mom. It was awful. I wish I had known to try and move my eyes back then.
Post # 4
Yes, I have and it is so awful. When I was in my 20s, my sleep paralysis was geared more towards hallucinations and a heightened sense of danger in the room. In my 30s, it has transitioned more towards the type where I feel like someone is on me and I’m suffocating.
While it is still terrifying, after having to deal with this for almost 20 years, I’ve come to reognize it as it starts to happen. When it happens, I focus on my breathing and keeping it calm and steady. Normally, I can “snap out of it” after calming myself down and reminding myself that it is only temporary. The more I fight it and the harder I struggle to “wake up,” the longer it takes.
Post # 5
This is very common synptom in narcolepsy (as is insomnia). The feeling of someone on you could be a hypnogogic hallucination which also happens in narcolepsy. You may want to look into that and see if anything else rings true. Narcolepsy is *not* what is frequently presented as throwaway punchlines or in movies, so find some reliable sites (Narcolepsy Network is good).
My daughter has narcolepsy and I have learned that narcolepsy is far more common than it is diagnosed. It is estimated narcolepsy affects approximately 1 in 2000 but far fewer are actually diagnosed.
Post # 6
I’ve experienced sleep paralysis a handful of times in my life. The first few times it was pretty freaky but now I recognize it quickly and remain calm. It usually happens after a prolonged period of little-to-no sleep and almost always during a bad dream. My eyes will open but I can’t move or speak. My dreams actually leak into the real world and I’ll see black, hazy figures moving around. Once the paralysis is lifted those visions disappear.
The brain is weird.
Post # 7
This gives me chills! The sounds are scary for sure – I could hear a VERY loud popping sound, like my fan was exploding. Of course it was not – it just seemed so loud.
I’m glad to hear that it’s a common thing…scary as it may be. Thanks all for the tips on how to snap out of it – it’s hard not to panic when you’re seeing and hearing things that seem real, even when you know they’re not.
That is scary to think of it happening often – are you saying to look into it possibly being narcolepsy if it becomes frequent?
Post # 8
I’ve experienced sleep paralysis multiple times. I actually found it much less frightening once I knew that it had a name and wasn’t uncommon.
Mine usually invovled the usual being unable to move at all (except my eyes sometimes), along with shadow figures. Often, I’d hear a voice shout “hey” or my first name loudly in my ear. Luckily, I haven’t had an episode in a couple years.
What usually worked for me was to remind myself that the figures/voice was in my head and that I would be fine in a bit (oddly enough, I could think clearly). If I went back to sleep, I invariably woke up normally shortly thereafter.
Post # 9
- Wedding: October 2016 - Montego Bay, Jamaica
This has happened too me a handful of times in recent years and I HATE it! It’s happened so frequently that now I actually know when it’s coming on and am able to snap out of it faster.
The first time it happened to me I was asleep downstairs on our couch and my husband was upstairs. It always starts the same- there is this loud buzzing sound that gets stronger and stronger and then an overwhelming feeling that there is someone in the room with me. I’ve seen “it” before too and it’s a big black shadow person and I always get the sense that it’s right up in my face. So then I’m literally frozen in terror and trying to scream but nothing comes out. After what feels like a minute or 2 of trying to scream I finally wake up. It’s always really hard for me to go to sleep again right away because that gives me such a rush. It’s literally the worst thing ever but I have also read and studied sleep paralysis and it’s so common 🙁
Post # 10
Yes once only and it was horrifying.
I was in my early 20s. My whole family was away on a holiday and I was at home alone. I’d fallen asleep on the couch and it felt like someone was standing over me and applying pressure to body and breathing heavily over me. I was trying to get up, wake up and scream but I was paralysed. Finally when I was able to wake up fully, I really felt like someone was actually in the house. I literally got a knife, turned on all the lights and checked each room in the house. It was scary and it felt so damn real. I almost thought after I checked my perfectly empty house that it was a malevolent spirit that was standing over me. At the time I had no idea what had happened but a few years later after seeing a show on TV, I realised it was an episode of sleep paralysis.
OP, I totally get you. It’s scary and feels very real. It’s happened once to me and it’s been way over a decade since it happened but I still remember the feeling vividly. I hope you never expirience it again.
Post # 11
After going through it I’m super nervous about going to sleep tonight – LOL – and reading your stories is very chilling. The weird thing is that everyone who seems to experience a presence feels that it’s “evil” or “malevolent”. It makes it that much more terrifying, and makes the yucky feeling last after you wake up.
From what I’ve been reading, apparently it’s the brain trying to rationalize why you can’t move even though you’re awake, and so it creates possible reasons why you’re frozen – obviously you’re being held down/suffocated by an evil demon! 😛 Lol
It does sound from what everyone is saying though that it’s purely physiological and a natural phenomenon, which is much more realistic and comforting.
Post # 12
I think you should see if anything else related to narcolepsy is something you can relate to. Do you have vivid dreams? Do you ever feel briefly weak when you laugh or have other emotions (or perhaps for seemingly no reason at all) Do you frequently feel sleepy?. What you are describing is very, very similar to what people with narcolepsy experience. I disagree with PP that this is a common experience; It isn’t. But it is a symptom of narcolepsy. I hope you get some answers.
Post # 13
- Wedding: January 2021 - Dracut, Massachusetts
I’ve only had it one time but it felt exactly what you described. I couldn’t move and when I tried to scream, nothing came out. I was in high school so I don’t remember the entire incident, but I think I remember dreaming about someone or something trying to hurt me. I was already freaked out because my mom had been talking about something creepy she saw, or perhaps thought she saw in our apartment. We always had weird feelings about that place, it was supposedly built on an indian burial ground. I don’t know how true that is though.
Post # 14
Yes, I have.
First time, I was alone in a hotel. I ‘saw’ a man enter my room and stand over me, like he was going to attack me. I’d have sworn in court he was there, it was so vivid.
When I tried to move, I realised that I was paralysed and genuinely freaked out that I’d be paralysed forever. I tried to scream, but couldn’t speak and struggled to breathe. After what felt like eternity, I managed to whisper ‘stop’, then sat bolt upright and screamed ‘stop’. Obviously I was alone. I was really shaken, it was horrendous.
Since then it’s happened twice, also with the hallucinations of men in my room. BUT now as soon as I realise I’m paralysed, I am able to realise what’s going on, so it’s not scary. I just focus on breathing and blinking and it goes away.
I sleep on my front normally. I’ve only ever had paralysis when I sleep on my back. I don’t have insomnia, but do have a history of sleepwalking.
Post # 15
- Wedding: June 2018 - Tizer Gardens/Carroll College
Every time I move to a new place, I seem to go through a period where I experience these. They are soooo creepy. When I first moved into an apartment by myself, I had a refrigerator that would sound like it was clapping, and that took a long time to get used to – particularly in the middle of the night, and amid night terrors/paralysis.
When I bought my house, it always “felt” like a little old lady watching over me. Add in the squirrels that barreled across my roof, and it was just disturbing.