Sleep paralysis isn’t pretty. I experience it on a regular basis and if luck isn’t on my side, I experience it every night. It’s the worst thing in the world and up until today there is no proven fact or concrete reason as to why this occurs. Some say it’s due to stress, lack of sleep, anxiety, traumatic experience, etc etc., but no clear cause. If you want to know more about sleep paralysis, you can check out this article from Buzzfeed that will walk you through the whole subject.
The first time I experienced sleep paralysis, I couldn’t even get back to sleep. I was awake the whole night because I was afraid of not being able to defend myself. But at the end of the day, it seems as if there’s just no way out of it. You just gotta learn how to live with it.
I’ve done everything I could to stop my sleep paralysis from happening. In the Philippines, our culture believes in superstitions and it’s been said that keeping a glass of water next to your bed will help get rid of bad, sleepless nights. Feng Shui states that it’s unlucky to sleep with the reflection of you because it disturbs the soul and it’s also been said that sleeping with your feet facing the door is not the best choice due to supernatural reasons. I did everything I was told to do but none of them work, although I still believe in these superstitions because I mean, you won’t lose anything by believing in them right? In tagalog “wala namang mawawala kung maniniwala ka.”
Before anything else, just a reminder, I’m not an expert on this. These are just a couple of things that have worked for me when I experience sleep paralysis. It’s what helped me “wake up” from this horrible trans. If you’re experiencing the same thing, I want to hear from you. I shared this experience because I want you to know that you’re not alone on this. This is something serious and not to be taken lightly. It’s not a joke and it’s definitely something that’s very easy to get out of. There are others out there who completely abandons sleep in order to “survive” the night and I remember being in that position too and I completely understand how it feels.
What happens when I experience sleep paralysis?
Majority of the time, my sleep paralysis occurs when I’m about to go to sleep (not when I’m about to wake up. Others experience it both ways). I can feel when my body is about to shut down but then all of a sudden it won’t. I don’t know how I can properly explain it. My mind is fully awake, I can see my surroundings but hazy at times and I’m unable to move and speak/make a sound. It’s the most frightening thing because it feels like I’m stuck in the “in between”. During sleep paralysis, hallucinations are also common. Therefore, I’ve experienced dark shadows surrounding me and sometimes, even someone/something sitting at the foot of my bed. Other times, I’m unable to breathe because I feel something heavy on my chest. I’ve also experienced the feeling of someone trying to take me away and I know that if I went with them, it’s over. Other times I feel like I’m being pulled out of bed. That shit is damn scary I tell you. I’m fully conscious of what’s happening during sleep paralysis, I can control my thoughts, I know what I should do and how to react, except without the freedom of being able to physically retaliate to these circumstances. And that’s the scariest part; not being able to take action. You know you can do something about it and get out of it, but you can’t.
How to control sleep paralysis?
I’m no expert when it comes to this but because I’ve been experiencing this on a regular basis, (until this very day in fact) there are a few techniques that have worked for me when sleep paralysis decides to take over.
1. Your pillow is your best friend: I notice that my sleep paralysis occurs when I begin to fall asleep on my back. Somehow, I believe that if you sleep on your back with nothing protecting your chest, you’re prone to “supernatural tendencies”. It’s like you’re giving them permission to take over your body. This may sound funny to some but hey, I believe in the supernatural. Anyway, when I want to sleep on my back, I put a huge pillow on top of my chest to avoid this, and somehow it works.
2. Train yourself to relax: The moment you enter the state of sleep paralysis, take deep breaths. Like I said earlier, you’re conscious when this phenomena occurs only without the freedom to move. However, you will be able to control your breathing. It takes a lot of practice to stay calm when you’re in this position but the moment you take deep breaths and you tell yourself to relax and block your surroundings, you’ll “wake up”.
3. Try to move while saying a prayer &/or talking to yourself: Prayer when accompanied by taking deep breaths and trying to relax often works. Talk to yourself as well to keep you distracted; and while you do, try to move your fingers, wriggle your toes, move your facial muscles etc. Don’t force it as if you were panicking though, because the harder you try, the more difficult it becomes to get out of it. Do it slowly and condition your mind that you can do it and you eventually will.
4. Sleep longer hours: Sleep paralysis have been linked to lack of sleep. It doesn’t matter what time of the day you sleep, but make sure you sleep at least 7-8 hours uninterrupted. Train your body to sleep like this and hopefully it will lessen this occurrence. So far, it’s been going good with me. The last time I had sleep paralysis was just last week…which was an absolute blessing compared to having them 3-4 times a week. Of course, you have to turn this into a habit. Just because you slept 8 hours today, doesn’t mean it will instantly lessen this experience.
5. Observe and listen to your body: It’s important to observe your body’s wants and needs. Research on sleep paralysis and see some of the causes of this. If you fit in any of the criteria, let’s say for example, lack of sleep, then try to sleep longer. If you’re always stressed out, try meditating before sleeping, or do something that will calm your nerves. What you want is your body and mind to be coherent with each other so you can transition into a peaceful sleep. But if your mind is bothered and elsewhere, then it’s very unlikely you’ll reach that stage of tranquility.