Medical Questions > Mental Health > Sleep Disorders Forum

sleep paralysis ?

Hey everyone Very Happy

I have a bit of a problem and I'm hoping to find some insight as it's starting to effect me worse each month.

My problem is this:


Sometimes when crossing the threshold from asleep to awake or vice versa, I get the feeling that my mind is slipping away from my body.

It's not like an out of body experience as such, it's more like sleep paralysis only with other side effects thrown in. I struggle to breathe, and my mind starts disengaging from my body. This is an extremely distressing sensation and I panic. I try to fight it by shaking my head (whether I'm actually physically shaking it is beyond me). This brings me around after a couple of seconds.

This feeling repeats itself every minute or so when i begin to lose conciousness again, and can go on for what seems forever. Sometimes during cycles I'm able to text, or prop myself up to stay awake.

I tried this the other night but it did no good. I merely sat there like I was sedated, with my head lolling around on my shoulders. The cycle repeated itself about 10 times whilst sat up. I remember saying "no, no, no" over and over again because I felt something else was beginning to take hold of my mind. The feeling abated when I banged my head against the wall, this wasnt intentional and my head dropped too quickly for comfort.

Afterwards I go light headed, which isn't a bad feeling but it must be connected to my other experiences.

I've had sleep paralysis in the past, and I've been violently dragged out of bed (amongst other things) before as punishment for failing to regain control over myself. Struggling to pull yourself upright into a sitting position to find you're not getting anywhere isnt fun.

Whether or not I speak the words I try to speak, or move when I try to move I don't know. It all seems too much like a dream the next morning. For all I know it's all a dream, I just have the notes I'm making on my phone as proof.


I know these notes are vague, and they may raise more questions than answers, but I've put them up in hope that someone can shed any light onto my condition (if I have one). Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

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replied February 28th, 2008
Sleep Paralysis
I can't believe there is someone with the same problem. My husband experiences the same problems and it scares me terribly. It happens during times of stress and he is usually between the sleep and asleep stages. He is totally aware of where he is and what he is doing, but he can't move or speak. Eventually he will get my attention by twitching his foot. His breathing also becomes shallow and really fast.
I was talking to a professor a while back about this problem and he said that it could be linked to a small problem with sleep apnea. I'm not sure if that's true or not because honestly, I have only known one person to have the problem and that is my husband. I would look into doing a sleep study.

I hope you get everything figured out.
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replied February 28th, 2008
Thanks Sara

Yeah it is an odd one. I can relate to some symptoms of sleep paralysis but there is much I have (and haven't) felt. So I have my doubts. I just don't know.

What I can say is that it's extremely difficult to describe, and your husband probably finds it just as difficult. It's almost a spitual expereince and I'm a skeptic. Could you ask your husband to read my account of things? If he finds describing it difficult this may help him.

EDIT: One last thing. Last night, I brought this feeling on on purpose. I dunno how I did it, but I did. Because I knew it was happening I stopped it in time. After a ew cycles it went and it was then I made notes on my phone.

It came back though, stronger. I couldn't get rid of it then.
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replied May 13th, 2008
I was just in another forum on this site and there was a tremendous amount of information regarding sleep paralysis.

For the first poster in this forum, it sounds as if you have a bit of sleep apnea that causes you to wake up with a choking feeling...In most of the posts I read about sleep paralysis, this was not a symptom. Although sleep apnea will make you awake gasping for air and is much more dangerous than sleep paralysis and you should get a sleep study done. I do know that sleep apnea may "cause" the sleep paralysis but can be deadly on its own....which would require a breathing device when you sleep...please go get a sleep apnea test for that choking feeling...

I finally was able to get to the doctor. I was scared out of mind...I am 40 and during the past year have had these episodes at least 30 times....from what I have is rare to have sleep paralysis after the age happens more frequently with young adults....

Everyone's experiences seem different but closely related. In my case, I would be sleeping on my stomach (most episodes are supposedly happening to people when on their back). My entire body would paralyze and then my brain would feel like it was on fire. After a few seconds of sheer terror of not being able to move and a burning sensation in the brain....I would try to call out to my husband doug right next to me and nothing would come out....I would try to kick my foot to his to wake him and I could not move.....

Although feeling like an eternity....I believe the episode only lasts for a few seconds....

In my case, I have been suffering from these episodes quite frequently, once every night for a week...I thought I was going to die when the burning sensation filled my head...

After a few episodes I realized that I was indeed conscious because I could feel myself trying to speak and trying to move....At first I thought it might be a dream but after it happened several times more...I knew it wasn't. Also in the other forum people describe having sleep paralysis shortly after falling asleep...while going into REM sleep...others have it right after they awake...

While reading the other forum (which I can't find now that I registered) several of the sufferers of sleep paralysis also suffer hallucinations of evil things...such as ghosts and devils....I have not had this..THANKFULLY...the episodes are scary enough.

IN any doctor told me that although very scary....these episodes are not dangerous - wherein...sleep apena which can accompany sleep paralysis can be deadly.

After speaking to my doctor he prescribed elavil and antivert for me to take an hour before sleeping....I am rethinking using these medicines now knowing that what I am experiencing will not hurt me....I think the doctor prescribed these meds to make me less anxious ...and TO KNOCK ME OUT FOR THE ENTIRE NIGHT SO I WOULDN'T WAKE UP TO EXPERIENCE THESE EPISODES. From what I have one takes meds for this and I don't think I want to start taking an anti-depressant to eliminate the episodes.

From reading others can actually take the fear away by having some fun with the sleep paralysis...some say that if you can turn your body or try and you will have an out of body experience....

All I know is I feel very relieved knowing I am not going to die in my sleep with the sleep paralysis.....I know now that each time it happens it will also pass...and relaxing will make it go away sooner..... I also feel very relieved because I know I am not weird and losing my mind...

Trying to explain this to my family doctor was not easy....She was smart and sent me to a neurologist who sat for an hour with me finding a diagnosis. Once he found the diagnosis he asked me questions which completely fit my episodes...except for the hallucinations which not everyone has....

Now if I was having the hallucinations of evil ghosts and the devil ..I might reconsider taking the meds.....

I hope this entry I didn't see anyone describe the burning sensation in their brain ..which scares me more than the paralysis....

To everyone...a good night sleep..
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replied May 15th, 2008
It happens to me and is freaky. Some people think it is a hag demon attacking you sitting on top of you over powering you or what ever.

When I have it, I feel like somthing is standing long side the bed by me. When I have it every single time theirs a freaky demon after me and it makes the scariest sound and the lights wont turn on in my house and it normally comes up behind me. I got so thet up that one time when it was happning I made my self in my dream come after it not scared no more I was peed off that it kept happning. After that I stopped having them.
One time I went into sleep poralisis and in my dream was walking down the stairs. I knew the demon was down their but I could not wake my self up and my self in the dream kept walking down the stairs. I actually sat up in my bed and was saying "no" and could not keep my eyes open and could not keep my self sitting up I kept falling back down. Scary stuff.

But normally sleep poralisis will only happen if you are sleeping on your back.
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replied September 24th, 2008
Sleep Paralysis - My Experience
I have been reading other people's accounts and experiences of sleep paralysis for about 6 weeks now, since it happened!

Before I begin to tell my own account, I want to make it clear that I am not a great believer in the supernatural although remain open minded. I consider myself sound of mind and don't get kicks out of telling stories to get a 'shock' reaction from people!

I have suffered from sleep paralysis for about 3 or 4 years now, it's hard to remember exactly when they started. I am a 23 year old male and it first started when I lived at my parents house. To be honest it didn't bother me too much, it would come during sleep or I'd wake up in a paralyzed state. Whenever it happened whilst falling asleep I would feel the sensation taking over me, I knew it was coming. Like a tingling sensation that starts in your body and ends in your head before I slip into it, fully aware of my surroundings but unable to move or speak. It was uncomfortable and I would always try to shout for my mum, a natural reaction to it I guess, I never could get the words out though!! I would eventually snap out of it and that'd be it, it happened frequently, at least once a week and began taking hold of me more and more and for longer periods at a time.

I think I mentioned it to my mum but I didn't make too much of a fuss, I can see why it would really distress some people but I just went along with it. I moved out of my parents house about a year and a bit ago now, I hadn't got any of the paralysis since moving...

Recently I've had some worries about my job and other things, I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm under stress but I am certainly concerned. I've also took to reading scientific books and have took on board a real understanding of it. Quantum physics in particular, an appreciation of the world and what mysteries it holds has really sunk in with me. So with the troubles in my job I've been looking to my future and have had a real philosophical and analytical feeling about things. Perhaps another persons perception on my current attitude would be delusions of grandeur? But the long and short of it I feel I am destined to do better in my life. This may be a little off subject, but I want to tell all the facts so that someone may be able to relate with me in some way?

So back to the sleep paralysis, it started again about 6 weeks ago! The first time since moving out from my parents, I'd say it's been a good year since I last had an episode. This one was different though, I paralysed and could see the whole room as per usual. But then objects began to move, I have got a wash basket by my bed and that moved to the bottom of my bed. Mirrors at the end of my bed smashed. Then I could hear things, I don't have to think about it because the noise is still with me now. I could hear what was cackles and laughs, almost high pitch. The sound came from outside my bedroom window which I could see, I always have my curtains closed and can't remember seeing anything. Just hearing! Then I heard a deep voice, male, without being suggestive the best description is a demonic voice.

I don't feel it necessary to type what was said to me, I remember it clearly, it ridiculed me! Then from what I could see, a humanoid, dark figure appeared at the end of my bed and that is when I woke up. After I woke I can't remember if I actually heard further laughing noises out of my window, the line between reality and what I hope is a dream was too fine to call! I turned my light on and slept that night under the blanket like a scared child...!

I started to read a few accounts of the condition for the first time since getting sleep paralysis and to my amazement there was a lot to be found. Some people's descriptions almost identical to mine, some scientific explanations accompanied and some supernatural. What was really shocking was that some other people felt what they described as demonic encounters!

I kept the light on for a few nights after that until eventually plucking up the courage to sleep without it again. All was fine, until two nights ago, it happened for the second time. I was dreaming, I remember that, a normal dream not accompanied by paralysis. I can't fully remember what I was dreaming about it's sketchy but I can remember it being peaceful, not a nightmare! All of a sudden I was dragged from the dream I was having, literally flying towards my own bedroom towards the direction of a a child like figure with a demon face. I can remember protesting against this, a sense of fear took me over and all of a sudden I was on my bed paralysed aware of my surroundings. Straight away I could hear the same laughs and cackles out my bedroom window I had experienced before and I remember a demonic figure down the right side of my bed, it was edging closer upwards from the floor and put it's hand on my bed. I had complete awareness, in my own head I said embrace it and convinced myself I had full control. At that point I considered staying paralysed to try face my fears but I couldn't, I willed myself back out of it!

Again I'm faced with sleeping with the light on again like a child, I'm 23 years old and I just want answers! It's not normal, like I said I'm no great believer in the supernatural but it's hard to rationalize things. Why demons, why do people experience demons? Why not a man wielding an axe or a hitman with a gun because that would still be a nightmare! For a grown man of my age to now be scared of going to bed is not normal, I can't bring myself to tell friends or family but what I am experiencing is far beyond just a nightmare! I tried explaining to two of my friends and they just laughed, I've not uttered a word more of it in fear that they'll think I'm crazy!

I'm not saying I'm definitely a victim of supernatural forces, but I'm finding it hard to swallow the scientific reasons behind sleep paralysis. Until you've actually experienced something like this then it is hard to understand what seems like an orchestrated attack! Maybe someone can relate with me on this, I hope?
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replied September 24th, 2008
For me the way it starts almost every time is my house is pitch black and when I flip a light switch the lights wont turn on or else ill find one light that will turn on but it will be realy dim. Soon as i flip the switch and the lights dont turn on I know im starting or are already in perralisis at that point. When I first started having them 2 years ago I was scared to do to sleep and to go into the dark and I was paranoid as could be.
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replied September 24th, 2008
Hi Everyone, well yes iv'e been having these episodes, lately, I have gotten up when I know it's a dream and washed my face, but Im blind I can't see nothing, it's so weird becouse I know Im asleep, so I try to do everything I can do to wake up, It usually happens when Im alone, and Im taking a nap, never at night, but now it's more frequent, these two last episodes, my cat has awoke me by walking on me thank god..I don't know if she can see me acting weird or something, well I hope it just goes away..oh something I started doing this week is set your alarm clock when you want to wake up..mine is usually in 2 has worked. Good Luck.
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replied September 24th, 2008
I always try to wake my self up by wigling my fingers.

And now most times I have it since im used to it most times i try and fight it or find it and show im not scared. One time im not sure if I really actually got up or not or if it was just my dream in sleep poralisis but it felt like it was long side me and I had my blanket over me and I stood up out of bed and tried pushing it or somthin. I remember that but im not sure if it actualy physicaly happened.

Another odd thing that happened in sleep poralisis is I was laying on my bed and I look and at the foot of my bed a chick with long blond hair named virgen mary was laying their telling me to stop drinking alcohol and odd stuff and then rolled off the foot of my bed and went under it and started making the scariest demon noises ever.

For me the demon thing thats always is in my dream during sleep poralisis is like a cross between the grudge and the ring. Scariest thing ever.

I dont really think its a demon to much cause of research thats been done saying its not a demon and is just sleep poralisis but the oddest thing ever that happen to me in my sleep when i was 16 few days b4 christmas. I was in some place I think it might have been the church in my town and im in their and theis this old laty all of a sudden that is just standing their and says "andy wake up" and then I got cocky with her and said no but then got kind of scared so I made my self wake up. I think I was about to go into sleep poralisis if I didnt wake up. BUT heres the scary thing. I saw a pic at my grandmas house and right away reconized it. It was the chick that was in that dream saying wake up and come to find out it was my great grandma who I never seen before that day in the pic and she was in my dream!!! Thats the only thing that makes me wonder if its possably somthing supernatural happening.

And the other thing that gets me is once time I woke up out of sleep poralisis laying on my back with my elbo bent and hand in the air and felt really cold. It was during winter so it being a little cold would be normal but it took for ever for it to heat back up under my blankets. thats teh other odd thing that happend.
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replied September 25th, 2008
Experienced User
I have sleep paralysis, and it never mattered if I was laying on my back or my side, I would still get it. I would not be able to move, I would not be able to open my eyes or speak. I would feel like a presence was in the room with me, It would scare me.

I grew out of it, have not had an episode in over 5 years and I am now 36.

I figured it out, sleep depervation leads to sleep paralysis. I make sure to get 7 / 8 hours of sleep every night.

I once went for a eeg and they had me go without sleep for the test, and I had an attack at the hospital in the middle of the test, it was accompanied by a shock that went up my spine. It was intense.

The test come up normal, so the doctor never followed up on treatment.
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replied May 19th, 2009
same thing
I've had the same thing. It happened three times while laying on my back. Your mind wakes up but your body is still asleep. My room should have been completely dark but it was totally full of bright light and there was a demon type guy at the end of the bed. It looked like the grim reaper. Then I could feel what seemed to be a hand pushing down on my chest until i couldn't breathe. It was the scariest thing I've been through.

My sleep paralysis stopped after I got my gall bladder fixed. It could be that my body was experiencing small stomach pains and waking me up slowly? The curious thing is it looked like the grim reaper and if I had been living even 50 years ago I might be dead now. So now that I'm fixed its gone?

To me it was more of a warning get things fixed and live life to the fullest. I've had an out of body experience but that was completely different. That was totally happy. While out of body I met two people. They told me the meaning of life is to learn and the greatest sin is to prevent others from doing the same. If there are spirits the good ones out number the bad. Just mentally ask them to keep an eye out for you. Its probably your great grandma Smile
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