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Breaking the Silence about Sleep Paralysis

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Breaking the Silence about Sleep Paralysis

Since the 1970s, autoethnographies (a form of research in which a researcher connects personal experiences to wider cultural, political, and social meanings and understandings) have been used by researchers to explore and reflect upon different aspects of a personal experience. As more people are today aware of the sleep paralysis phenomena, I write in autoethnographic style, feeling no judgement or stigma as I share my sleep paralysis experience.


Whilst I’m not a practicing Christian or overly religious, I chose to use the Lord’s Prayer throughout my experience, as it served as a comfort to me during my 30 years of feeling vulnerable and abused at the hands of sleep paralysis, and it is by no accident that when reflecting on my own experience it still brings me comfort and offers a pillar of protection against the unknown agents that intrude and take advantage of me during my most vulnerable state – whilst I am asleep.


“And forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation;

but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,

the power and the glory,

for ever and ever.

Amen.” – The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-14 NRSV)

 
What Causes Sleep Paralysis | Right as Rain by UW Medicine
The episodes did not start suddenly. Instead, they began subtly at around the age of 23. I can recall a shift in my dream pattern that gained my attention. At that time, I was becoming increasingly unsettled upon wakening, as the experiences that took place during my sleep state took on, what I can only call a dark theme. There was nothing that I could categorically say happened as I slept. I only knew that an invasion of sorts had taken place that left me feeling afraid upon waking.

The gradual increase of the episodes meant that I saw them initially as random events and it was not until I began to fear going to sleep that I noticed their regularity and the impact that they were having on me. You see, it was very easy to dismiss them once I was awake. I could pretend as if it hadn’t really happened.  I could live a ‘normal’ day with colleagues, friends and family without thinking about the terror that would invade my sleep.  The paranormal didn’t exist in this normal world and I could fit in with people around me, having conversations that reinforced my ‘normality’. 

Whilst playing the role of being normal my conversations did not include anything paranormal, as I assumed that those discussions would upset the people around me who were not prepared for the topic of demonic intrusions whilst sleeping.

I created a self-imposed world where only I knew my secret. This meant that the subject of my sleep paralysis never came up socially and during those hours I was able to divert my attention away from my experiences.  As the day drew to a close and the activity that had distracted me dwindled, I began to anticipate that the terrifying experience would happen again. I could no longer hide and pretend that they didn’t happen, and I had a deep feeling that ‘they’ were waiting for me to sleep. I was aware that the intensity and frequency of the visitations had increased and that the episodes were a regular and frequent part of my life that I could not control. I became anxious and afraid as I knew that I had to face sleep.

My thoughts drift whilst writing, as I recall the façade. By day I was an on-the-ball, action-driven team leader in a multinational organisation.  By night I was a cowering, blubbering wimp in fear of sleep, convinced that ‘they’ were going to get me.


Within 3 months of my noticing the shift in my dream state, the experiences were extremely intense, prolonged and chronic. They were taking place five to seven nights per week and there were times when I would awaken from an episode, only to fall asleep again where it would start all over. They would also happen if I had a nap or dozed off. In most instances, I would go to bed normally, although it didn’t really matter where I slept.

At various stages of my sleep state, whether it was when I was in the initial stages of sleep or during the early hours of the morning ‘they’ would come. There are various scientific and academic arguments that relate to sleep paralysis happening only during the hypnogogic (going to sleep) and the hypnopompic (waking up states) (Jalal, Romanelli and Hinton, 2015 p.2). I have to say that this was not my experience. The sleep paralysis episodes would happen at any point of my sleep state.

A typical experience that took place as I was dozing off to sleep or after sleeping for several hours, would begin with feeling a distinct drop in temperature at my feet. I liken it to going into a pool of cold water that gradually rises the deeper you get. As the cold engulfed me, I knew I was ‘there’ wherever ‘there’ was.

Once I was ‘there’ I would awaken in complete darkness. I always laid still and moved only my eyes. I was on my back and at this stage, there was no motivation to move another part of my body. As I looked around, I could see shadows moving around my bed and I instantly felt foreboding anxiety.

There was an overwhelming sense of evil in this ‘space’. The evilness was far more than just a feeling. It pervaded my whole body. It was in the air. It was in everything that I saw. The fear and panic would start to well up within me as I knew that ‘they’, the ‘others’ were coming. The fear combined with the anxiety and anticipation of knowing that something which personified evil was coming generated terror within me as I could feel my body tensing up.

I could feel my eyes darting from side to side as my tension increased and, in that moment, I tried to move my torso to get up, only to find that it wouldn’t move. My arms and legs would not respond. In fact, I couldn’t feel my arms, legs or any part of my body and yet I flailed and rocked from side to side screaming and shouting, whilst not moving at all. I had an overpowering instinct to run and get away only to find that I had no choice but to endure the experience.

And then, from nowhere, it would land on my chest like a huge weight: a hunched, round beast with dark stubbly hair.  It looked like a large troll with huge eyes. A conventional incubus. It threw its weight onto my chest.  I continued to look up. I felt my ribs implode and I was engulfed by the mattress that was swallowing me due to the weight of the ‘thing’. I was being pushed into the blackness. I was sinking and, in that instant, I knew I was approaching death. I lost consciousness or so I thought, and I would either wake up shaking from terror yet glad to be ‘back’ or I would drift into ‘normal’ sleep.

The experiences tended to vary in intensity. Some nights there were only shadows and movement in the room and on other occasions the shadows would take the shape of a person. It would appear dense and solid without a face, and loom above me.  I can recall whisps of smoke that would transform into a shadow, as it floated around the room.

What's It Like to Wake Up With Sleep Paralysis? : ScienceAlert
I would often see myself in that ‘space’ as I watched from the ceiling or the corner of the room, which is how I was able to see the beast that would land on my chest. It was dark, yet I could make out the grey and black in its stumpy, patchy, fur-like skin. In those moments there were three of me. Me in the corner of the room watching the event, me on the bed with the beast on my chest and me, sleeping somewhat peacefully.

Upon waking there was always a clear recollection of the experience. The episode contained no storyline or actors, as there would be with a dream or a traditional nightmare. It was always only me, ‘them’ and the strange environment that we were in, which was somewhat similar to my bedroom.

 

Join Sleep Paralysis Explored, a membership site which is focused on sleep paralysis and the phenomena that comes with it such as astral projection, lucid dreaming, psychic abilities, and more. Details can be found HERE.    


Sleep Paralysis News Podcast
Have you experienced sleep paralysis?  Would you be willing to speak about your experience on a new podcast Sleep Paralysis News?  There are many people who need support and could benefit from hearing your story.  If you’re interested or know someone who is, send an email to spn@sheilaprycebrooks.com expressing your interest.
Sheila Pryce Brooks

About Sheila Pryce Brooks

Sheila Pryce Brooks is an expert in sleep paralysis and extraordinary spiritual experiences. She is passionate about illuminating the overlap between sleep paralysis, spirituality and science through research and education and she has since dedicated her life to helping others manage and transcend sleep paralysis and other extraordinary spiritual experiences.

 
 
 
 

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Quora Question Answered – Can I have sleep paralysis, but not in my own bed or room?

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Quora Question Answered – Can I have sleep paralysis, but not in my own bed or room?

 

Yes, you can. It can happen anywhere. I thought it was connected to my home for a long time. I slept in different rooms, moved furniture around, slept on the sofa and in my children’s bed. It still continued, so I stayed with my parents and in hotel rooms and the episodes did not stop. I had to face the realisation that sleep paralysis was about me, and it continued wherever I slept.

 

It was after this acceptance that I knew that I had to work on overcoming sleep paralysis, not just from the sleep hygiene perspective, but also from an assertive, powerful, confident and self-assured position, which meant that I had to strengthen my inner self to overcome and transcend the sleep paralysis.

 


 

Join Sleep Paralysis Explored, a membership site which is focused on sleep paralysis and the phenomena that comes with it such as astral projection, lucid dreaming, psychic abilities, and more. Details can be found HERE.

 

 


Sleep Paralysis News Podcast

Have you experienced sleep paralysis?  Would you be willing to speak about your experience on a new podcast Sleep Paralysis News?  There are many people who need support and could benefit from hearing your story.  If you’re interested or know someone who is, send an email to spn@sheilaprycebrooks.com expressing your interest.

 
Sheila Pryce Brooks

About Sheila Pryce Brooks

Sheila Pryce Brooks is an expert in sleep paralysis and extraordinary spiritual experiences. She is passionate about illuminating the overlap between sleep paralysis, spirituality and science through research and education and she has since dedicated her life to helping others manage and transcend sleep paralysis and other extraordinary spiritual experiences.

 
 
 
 

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Sleep Paralysis Spiritual: What is Sleep Paralysis Meaning, Cause & Symptoms?

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Sleep Paralysis Spiritual: What is Sleep Paralysis Meaning, Cause & Symptoms?

What is Sleep Paralysis?

Sleep paralysis is a globally reported phenomenon that takes place during the sleep state.  It is sometimes referred to as the ‘waking consciousness’, a sleep state whereby the individual perceives that they are awake.  It is during this state that sleep paralysis takes place with some or all the following features: sensing, feeling and seeing an evil entity, breathing difficulties, bodily pressure on the chest sometimes from an evil entity, suffocation, out-of-body experiences including floating and seeing one’s body from above and intense fear.  The individual feels that death is imminent.  In contrast, extreme bliss is sometimes cited during the experience.  There are no treatments to permanently stop or remove sleep paralysis and no conclusive reasons for the occurrences.

 

How Do We Define Sleep Paralysis?

When we go to sleep, we aim to be relaxed and free from disturbances whilst sleeping. During sleep, your body repairs tissues, bone and muscles and there are two major sleep phases that rotate as we sleep: non-REM and REM sleep. During non-REM sleep, your body is getting ready for deep sleep and this lasts for 1- 40 minutes.  REM sleep is described as when an individual is in a deep sleep with heart and body temperature increases and vivid dreams.  This lasts for 10-60 minutes.  It is during REM sleep that the activity of your brain increases. The events of your day and memories will develop as long-term storage in your mind. When you experience an intense dream, REM sleep also occurs more prominently.

 

Sleep paralysis takes place when you are fully engaged, as determined by your brain activity BUT you will not be able to move your arms, legs, or any part of the body. As you sleep, you will be aware of the things going around you, but you will not be able to move your body. This state of paralysis takes place to stop the body from acting out its dreams.

 

What Are The Reasons For Sleep Paralysis?

Sleep Paralysis is a common condition that happens to 1 in 20 people worldwide, regardless of age, gender or cultural background. There are no explanations for the cause of sleep paralysis and no treatments. It has also been associated with of Narcolepsy, a neurological disorder that impacts the brain’s control of the sleep-wake cycle. Some people who experience Narcolepsy also experience Sleep Paralysis.

 

There are many factors linked to Sleep Paralysis, such as:

 

  1. Disturbed sleep cycles.
  2. Insomnia can also be a major cause of Sleep Paralysis episodes.
  3. Some mental illnesses and anxiety can also lead to Sleep Paralysis.
  4. Usage of certain medications will also hamper the sleep cycle, which will give rise to Sleep Paralysis.
  5. Sleeping on your back can also cause Sleep Paralysis episodes.

 

What Does Sleep Paralysis Feel Like?

People define Sleep Paralysis as an overpowering, vivid-like dream experience with frightening features that may include seeing entities, hearing different sounds and feeling sensations creating fear and terror. The experience is described as taking place in an alternative dimension.

They are not nightmares and can also include Astral Projection – a term that defines the soul/spirit/ethereal body/consciousness of an individual leaving the physical body while sleeping or meditating and traveling to other places according to their preferences. Some people intentionally astral projects.

 

Sleep Paralysis

 

Sleep Paralysis And Its Relationship To Spirituality

Sleep Paralysis may scare some people, but many think it is a gift. They can develop psychic abilities such as communicating with spirits of the outer world during their Sleep Paralysis phase. They can also communicate telepathically with the positive and negative beings that are present with them. Some people describe those with Sleep Paralysis as God’s messengers, special agents sent to save humankind with their spiritual powers. Many popular beliefs and theories elevate the importance and occurrence of Sleep Paralysis.

 

The Presence Of A Familiar Spirit

Various reasons behind Sleep Paralysis come from different places in the world. Some people focus on the evil entities as something to connect with a familiar spirit or helper. The concept states that no matter what, there are many spirits around you, and they can be negative and positive. The negative ones will try to harm you, and the positive ones will try to communicate with you about the outer world during your Sleep Paralysis. The positive ones can be your guardian angels or spirit guides.

 

An Old Hag Culture

This is one of the common theories being suggested as the reason for Sleep Paralysis in Newfoundland, Canada. In Newfoundland, people believe that an old hag will choke a person and sit on their chest, and in Germany, people often believe that if a person is experiencing Sleep Paralysis, then a witch is riding on top of them. Different cultures portray Sleep Paralysis according to their spiritual perspectives.

 

Conclusion 

Treatments for Sleep Paralysis are urgently needed. The treatment will help to remove anxiety, mental disorders, and allow the person to transition past the fear that it can create.

 

If you have sleep paralysis episodes frequently, consider seeing a physician. A medical or psychiatric doctor can guide you through ways to treat the underlying cause or develop ways to improve your sleep routine and prevent recurring episodes.

 


 

Join Sleep Paralysis Explored, a membership site which is focused on sleep paralysis and the phenomena that comes with it such as astral projection, lucid dreaming, psychic abilities, and more. Details can be found HERE.

 

 


Sleep Paralysis News Podcast

Have you experienced sleep paralysis?  Would you be willing to speak about your experience on a new podcast Sleep Paralysis News?  There are many people who need support and could benefit from hearing your story.  If you’re interested or know someone who is, send an email to spn@sheilaprycebrooks.com expressing your interest.

 
Sheila Pryce Brooks

About Sheila Pryce Brooks

Sheila Pryce Brooks is an expert in sleep paralysis and extraordinary spiritual experiences. She is passionate about illuminating the overlap between sleep paralysis, spirituality and science through research and education and she has since dedicated her life to helping others manage and transcend sleep paralysis and other extraordinary spiritual experiences.

 
 
 
 

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