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33 responses to “How does it feel to experience Sleep Paralysis?”

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  2. Daniel

    Hi there
    Just one thing to set my mind at ease – do you think it’s actually possible to suffocate during SP? I get it quite frequently and am currently endeavouring to find a way to enjoy it, but the recurring fear is that I’m actually going to die through suffocation. This is because I often sleep with my face partially mushed against my pillow or covered with bedding (it’s cold where I live!), therefore when I get SP and find I can’t move, I start to panic, and it’s usually only when I really begin to think I’m going to die that I snap out of it.

    Second question – is it really true that you experience SP with your eyes open? I thought that because it occured during REM your eyes would be darting all over the place. It’s certainly how I feel, because even though I see things, I know it’s an hallucination, and if I concentrate I can kinda feel my eyes “flickering” (no other way to describe it). Of course, I wouldn’t be surprised if that was my mind playing tricks on me!

    Even though I find SP quite unpleasant right now, I’m kinda glad that I have it – it’s quite unique and people seem fascinated when they hear about it, so I’m glad I’m experiencing something that most people aren’t able to. Your site is great by the way, keep it up!

  3. admin

    Thanks for the comment. I’ll try to address both of your questions, but keep in mind that these are hard questions to answer.

    In all of my research I have never encountered a case of death involving sleep paralysis. The rational side of me wants to say that it is nearly impossible since I have experienced SP hundreds of times over the years and I’m still alive. Also, I too sometimes sleep on my stomach with my face in the pillow and have had SP while in this position. However, if someone has died while experiencing SP in such a position how would we ever know that was the cause of their death? We would have to look into cases of otherwise healthy individuals dying of suffocation in their sleep. Once again I’ve never heard of this. I believe the human body would snap out of SP if breathing was inhibited, but this is just speculation. Still, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. If it’s a concern of yours maybe it’d be beneficial to change sleeping positions (probably better for your back and neck anyway).

    Do we experience sleep paralysis with our eyes open? Good question. This is something I want to see tested in a sleep laboratory to know for sure, however I have some ideas on the matter.

    From my experience, I’ve found that SP can be experienced with your eyes open (at least partially) and with your eyes closed. I recall a particular instance when I was taking a nap with while my sister was watching TV in the same room. I could see her watching TV when the SP set in and I tried to yell out to her but of course no sound came out. I could also accurately hear and see what was going on on the TV. One could argue that I had recalled my surroundings and recreated it accurately, but I’m not sure.

    Most times it happens to me as I’m coming out of sleep. In those instances I think my eyes are closed and my mind completely creates the entire scene, but usually not entirely accurately (although at the time I may think it is). Sort of a false awakening.

    It just occurred to me to try inducing sleep paralysis with a blindfold or sleep mask on. I’d like to see how accurately my mind can recreate my surroundings when I know my eyes can’t possibly be seeing anything. Also try recording myself while in SP and see what my eyelids are doing.

  4. Pete

    I have recently been experiencing sleep paralysis.. so far its happened 3 times.. the first time freaked me out completely.. i woke myself from a nightmare and i couldnt move at all.. my eyes were open but i felt really hazey.. it was when i looked at the door i could clearly see the scary character from my nightmare standing in the doorway… Im assuming this was a ‘hypnopompic hallucination’ that was mentioned.. I paniced as i struggled to jump up but couldnt move, not even my mouth… probably after about 30secs i reckon, i was able to move my leg.. and i put it on the cold floor to be sure i was awake, very strange.
    There was another instance almost exactly the same except i didnt have the hallucination, I woke couldnt move at all.. kinda felt like i had pins and needles sensation all over my body… and again slowly after about 30 secs everything kinda came back.. It was kinda like when you foot falles asleep and you have to wait for it to wake up.. but my whole body.. including my mouth..
    More frightening was the most recent which prompted me to ‘google’ if anyone else has had this experience. I have been having a restless night and rolling around a lot and at some point i woke up lying on my front, with my face mushed against the pillow.. my face was squished in a way that i was breathing through my nose.. I hadnt noticed i couldnt move, until I started to panic as i couldnt get enough air through my nose.. Then i started to really freak as i couldnt get enough air in my breaths were getting shorter and i still couldnt move anything.. i started thinking these were gonna be my last few breaths and what a stupid way to die… and then my arms and legs started tingling like pins an needles and i was able to move my left arm and push myself on to my side.. again id say thow whole episode lasted about 40 – 50 secs.. But still pretty scary… Still a very interesting experience though.. I had read and heard about sleep paralysis before, and assmued that people must be just dreaming or exaggerating… its very strange

  5. admin

    Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    Sleep paralysis can be a very daunting experience. I was terrified the first few times it happened to me until I learned more about it. Try to keep yourself calm when it happens, making sure not to panic. I find that when I don’t panic it subsides much more quickly.

  6. claire

    I have experienced sleep paralysis since i was younger and it happened a few times each year, however over the past few years my experiences have changed.. i find that either before or after the SP sets in i have this really weird vibrating all over my body almost like what i imagine a sezure to be like, its not just tingling its really strong shakes and vibrations im sure i can feel my eyes flickering too..
    is this normal during SP?

  7. admin

    Vibrations involving SP are very common. I get them when going into or coming out of SP. Try to focus on a place you’d like to go when the vibrations set in – this is a good way to launch straight into a lucid dream.

  8. Amanda

    I have had feelings of “flying up” before but I feel like I am partially awake. I normally ‘get out of it’ because, say, my arm jerks. But am I expierencing SP? If not,A) can people expierence this by choice-as in can I make myself expierence it? B) Would I want to? It sounds exciting..sorry to ask all this I’ve just been curious for a while.

  9. Amanda

    So I have had feelings of “flying up” before but I feel like I am partially awake. I normally ‘get out of it’ because, say, my arm jerks. But am I expierencing SP? If not,A) can people expierence this by choice-as in can I make myself expierence it? B) Would I want to? It sounds exciting..sorry to ask all this I’ve just been curious for a while.

  10. admin

    The “loss of gravity” you experienced often proceeds an OBE (out of body experience) and indeed is part of Sleep Paralysis. Many times we realized something is awry and try to regain control of our bodies.

    You can indeed experience SP if you like. It is a wonderful experienced as long as you are prepared for it. Try reading some of the tips posted on this site on how to achieve SP at will (mainly, sleeping on your back). Good luck!

  11. Alex

    So Ive never had this until about 5 mins ago. It started when I was dreaming of a ghost in my house.. When I focused I snapped out and woke up. I did it about 3 more times and it scared the hell out of me. My questions are why did I just expierence it, and how do I explain that to my girlfriend without her thinking im crazy? Lol.

    Thanks

  12. Alex

    Here were my symptoms:

    Vibrations/shakes
    Got really warm
    Could not move unless focused
    Eyes flickering

    I was also on my back.

  13. May

    I have been trying to figure out what has been happening to me in my sleep.. Sometimes when i am sleeping, or trying to drift off to sleep.. i have this strange sensation come over me, it feels like a im falling into darkness and then usually i find myself in the beggining of a bad dream. From here when i try and wake from this dream im caught is SP and i try and scream but nothing escapes my throat but a inaudible whimper.

    I have learned to identify that this sensation will occur in a bad dream/ night terror, and its not about anything in particular, just this horrible feeling that makes me feel like im having an anxiety attack.

    what is this sensation? and how can i make it stop?

  14. Hannah

    I’ve only ever experienced SP once and it terrified me, I’m sure I was waking up because it was daylight, my vision was all blurred (an example would be when you stand up too quick and you get funny colours that block your view?) but I could still see my room, just about, didn’t have any hallucinations or hear any noises, apart from hearing my screams in my head! Couldn’t move, felt like I’d been sown to the bed!! I calmed down a bit and I remember asking myself “WTF is going on?!” and to this day I still have a *lol* moment whenever I think back to it! Anyway I pretty much passed out after, I don’t know, 30 seconds? Returned back to sleep! But after it happened I googled it and have been googling it ever since, it may have scared me the first time but I kinda want to do it again and see what it’s like now that I know more about it. I’m weird.

  15. jay

    Do you think that sleep paralysis only happens when people are getting the appropriate amount of sleep?

    I usually encounter sleep paralysis when I go to sleep at a reasonable hour. The screaming I hear I can deal with but the tingling kinda creeps me out. However whenever I stay up until late (around 2 or 3 am) and then go to sleep I never get sleep paralysis. Is there a correspondence to how deeply or lightly one sleeps and sleep paralysis?

  16. isaac

    I’ve only experienced it if I’m extremely sleep deprived. That being said, my SP experiences are unusual. I do not have multiple sensations during them, nor do the episodes vary in the least. They are always the same.

    This whole phenomenon is crazy! It’s like all civilized reason goes up into a puff of smoke the moment we turn out the lights. Sure, I acknowledge and accept the scientific theories on the subject, but still–why must we have this? Do animals ever experience SP?

  17. Elena

    last night i read about lucid dreaming. i found it to be very interesting and i wanted to attempt it. i read that you may hear strange noises an become paralyzed. i kept waking up in the middle of the night and then falling back to sleep seconds after. i woke up once again at 9:00 am and thought, “i don’t want to have a lucid dream.” i closed my eyes and became unconcious. moments later, i heard strange noises like faint whisperings and hisses. i’m a very paranoid person and those noises caused me to panic. then suddenly i heard a man saying, “do not panic. you are beginning a lucid dream.” he kept saying that 3 times. i found that ridiculous since i hadnt read anything about hearing someone say you are having a lucid dream. it was all darkness but i felt hazy. i also felt like i was being held down and like there was a massive weight on my torso. it was hard to breathe. i read that i had to remind myself that nothing was real. i tried imagining someone i wanted to see, but it was just darkness and there were small, colorful orb-like lights. could it be that i almost had a lucid dream? or was it all just a normal dream, if i was dreaming at all?

  18. ANDY

    The experience is quite freaky, but i am amazed that no one wrote why it happens? – I can only say that this is natural and is experienced by almost everybody the reason being-it is a type of complete mis-match of mind and body act-many times our mind wakes up slightly faster than the body which a type of mismatch between our mind and body may be because the part of the brain which is controling the movements of the body is still not in action. so,from next time please enjoy it.

  19. Sharee

    I first experienced this 4years ago while staying at a friends house.. I woke up to a little boy about 6years old running up and down the side of the bed staring at me wanting to play, I was paralyzed watching him, tried to call out but could not operate my voice. I finally got feeling after about 10minutes and went and slept on the couch.
    I then experienced it again 1 year and 21days ago while I was travelling near Noosa. I was camping in my swag and I woke up to a man trying to unzip my swag, my entire body was paralyzed again and i was petrified. I tried to scream over and over for about 5minutes then heard a cry out and it was like I woke myself up by screaming.
    The third time was tonight which brings me to this site, I knew it was happening before it started but it was so different… I was in and out of the bodies of two people a women and young girl and something bad was about to happen, I woke up when the husband was behind me then fell back asleep then woke up again two more times. My eyes were so unbelievably heavy that I rolled over and semi fell into sleep when a male spirit was lying behind me tickling my feet, poking my legs and then spoke in my ear to see if I was awake. I then woke again and fought for a good half hour to keep my eyes open as they felt like a kilo each.
    I decided to get my phone and google ‘heavy body dreams’ and this sleep paralysis came up.
    It is the scariest thing I have ever experienced… especially the last two episodes. Will this become more frequent or less now that my mind has recognised what is actually happening?

  20. admin

    Thanks for sharing your experience Sharee.

    Knowing whether it will happen more frequently now that you have “recognized what is actually happening” is difficult. However, I will state that I am a firm believer in knowledge and its power to change brain function. What this means is that since you now are familiar with sleep paralysis you will be able to study it more and learn some techniques on how to control it when it does happen, thus minimizing the negative effects it might possibly have on you.

    I have been experiencing sleep paralysis for over 20 years and I get it maybe twice per year now, where each instance only lasts a few seconds and is not scary at all. What I have done to minimize the occurrence of sleep paralysis has mainly been to adopt a better sleep schedule. I don’t drink alcohol and try to be in bed by midnight and wake up by 8-9. Nine hours of sleep is ideal. Stress also pays a big role in the occurrence of sleep paralysis so I’ve found ways to minimize the stress in my life, such as doing exercise (like yoga), meditation, utilizing alternative ways of thinking (like not getting angry over trivial matters), as well as moving to a calmer city.

    So in the rare case that I do experience sleep paralysis it is on my own accord and usually a pleasant experience since I never let it frighten me and inversely using it to launch a lucid dream of some sort.

    Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.

  21. Nathan

    Last night i had it for the first time

    I had vibrations around my body ( almost orgasmic )
    And my eyes were flickering alot and i felt like struggling to keep my eyes closed.
    And my heart was beating really fast

    It was the most amazing sensation but i got too excited and opened my eyes too quickly and i woke up.

    Any tips on how to stay calm during it?

  22. Michael

    I am reading all of this for the first time and three months ago I would have asked you all what you were smoking. I have been experiencing what everyone describes as SP for two plus months now. I actually went to my doctor last week in hopes of finding out what was wrong with me. She did not give me a name for what I was describing but did ask if I was under an unusual amount of stress. She prescribed Klonopin to put me into REM sleep faster and asked that I take it one hour prior to falling asleep. I explained to her that almost EVERY night I experiene what most would call a nightmare. I couldn’t explain it any other way…….
    My experience is a buzzing feeling throughout my body but I feel as though I am awake. My body will then begin to levitate off of whatever surface I am sleeping on. I will then begin gently spinning back and forth until I am lowered back down. It happens so frequently that even today napping on the couch it started right as I fell asleep. I could hear the television clearly and knew that I was on the couch but thought I was still awake waiting to fall asleep. It doesn’t matter where I sleep I am aware of the room I am in as it happens.
    I have learned to enjoy the levitation but what follows is what sent me to the doctor. I will become paralyzed as everyone else describes, when I hear someone enter my house. It usually starts with the sound of the front door closing, then footsteps getting closer to the room I am sleeping in. This is enough to start the panic because I feel like I’m awake and am frozen to the bed/couch. I can see my wife sleeping next to me but cannot speak to wake her up. I have learned (if this makes sense) to start shaking my head violently back and forth in order to wake myself up. I have actually gone through this process several times in one session, each time thinking that I have successfully woke myself up only to hear the footsteps gettin closer. On one occasion after falling asleep on the couch the intruder came in the back door and placed the barrel of a gun to my forehead. This time I felt as though I had awaken from deep sleep but could not shake the “grog” and was glued to the couch.
    I was standing in the bathroom earlier, wondering if it was going to happen again tonight. I wasn’t able to get the prescription filled and being the weekend I started to worry about it happening again. It was then that I decided to try to search the internet for answers. I started typing “feeling of levitation while” when the search bar finished the sentence for me. I was more than a little suprised that there was actually a name for what I was experiencing. I must say that I am a little relieved to know that I’m not alone………
    I would like to talk with others who are having the same experience and you may post my email address if your site approves.

  23. admin

    Don’t worry, you aren’t alone. There are many of us who experience sleep paralysis on a nightly basis, although some of us will learn how to control it and mitigate its effect.

    My best advice to you would be to stay calm and never let the thought of an “intruder” overpower you. Once you learn to control your thoughts you can use sleep paralysis to launch into a lucid dream or make it stop. Also, watch out for prescription drugs… you might want to try medical marijuana (cannabis indica strains) if your state has a legal medical marijuana program. The side effects are far fewer and less taxing on the body than those related to prescription drugs like Clonozepam (Klonopin in the USA). But don’t take my word for it. Do your own research!

  24. admin

    Just tell yourself that nothing bad will happen then ride it out. Believe.

  25. nick

    I had a similar experience last night. It was interesting, but also scary. I felt the intense tingling and feeling of falling into oblivion. My mind perceived it as being abducted by something from another demention. That is a small fear i picked up while looking into the bermuda triangle and DMT and all that. Im guessing the person who got their dress unzipped has a fear of something like that happening whether consciously or subconsciously. Same with the person who experienced an intruder. These bad experiences are a way to confront our fears and reduce daily anxiety. These nightmares answer the daily question for many of us, “what am i anxious about”.

  26. Kara

    I have had this alot! I would be in the exact same place and position in my dream and in real life untill i find out a way to move! If im laying on my back and my daughter is in the other room i can hear her talk even though she is asleep and i will try to get to her but i cant move i can only see. No matter how hard i try to move i cant! Finally ill end up making myself fall off of the bed and i end up crawling or floating but i always wake up before i get to her! The weird thing is i wake up during my dreams for about a half of a second and try to stay up but my mind wont let me stay up and i always feel like there is a demon or some kind of presence in the room. I am able to tell when i cant wake up because my body has a tingly feeling! I always have a tingly feeling i can tell im gonna have a night mare before i go to sleep and as soon, i mean as soon as i fall asleep i get a tingly feeling and i try to wait myself up and finally when i wake up i have to turn the tv on to go back to sleep and i usually try to wake my boyfriend up to hold me that sometimes helps but not always. Sometimes i wake him up and tell him and he gets made because he dont have these dreams but i try to wake him up for comfort! It is so scary! I have had some weird things happen to me sense i have been in the basement! Everybody in my family that lives with me has experienced crazy things down there even my grandmother and she does not believe in that kind of stuff so for her to tell me something like that is really scary and my room and my 2 daughters room is down there! I have never experienced anything like this before i had that room nor did i ever believe in ghost or and demon untill then i thought people use to be crazy when they said somethin about a ghost but now that i have experienced it myself and i know its real nobody can tell me other wise and im not crazy! There is a demon in my basement and its not a good one its evil and im am 21 and im not into that kind of stuff. i need some advice!

  27. Misti

    I had this experience just 30 min before while I was taking a nap. And that also 3/4 times continuously. I was feeling so lazy and sleepy so I slept in noon. During SP , I was able to her outside sounds, I can see that my sister is in next room, so if I make some sound she might come and rescue me.. So I was doing “gngngngnggn..” sort of sound , but that didn’t help.. I was thinking why she is not coming ? If she pushes me little bit I can get out from this sp.. but alas no help.. then I thought let me hold something (mosquito coil machine kept bedside) and make some unusual noise so that she will come … and I was feeling that in my hand and was thinking oh yes..its in hallucination , I can feel it. so lets bang in on floor and make some sound .. but that also didn’t help… and I was feeling restless.. then suddenly I just woke up completely in sense and found no one is there in my home .. I was alone..

  28. Denise

    I have been getting strange attacks since I was 19 and I am now 53. In the early years it used to happen while I was wide awake and walking. I would have to lie down where I was and would get this unbelievable heaviness accompanied by panic, nausea or feeling awful. I was diagnosed with agoraphobia. They were wrong there. As I got older, the attacks only occurred at night. My mother told me I had nystagmus in one of my early attacks. Later I would get an awful feeling, which could involve an all over freeze as if my blood had turned to rubbing alcohol. These always end with a racing heart and breathing. I have gotten so used to them over the years I just turn over and go back to sleep. However, over the last two years, I have been getting partial paralysis. The paralysis occurs in the hands, feet and limbs. It is accompanied by tingling which can last for up to an hour. It is not classic sleep paralysis that I read of. It isn’t accompanied by vivid dreams, hallucinations or out of body experiences. What is more, it is not a matter of not being able to call out or opening the eyes. When I am actually up and sitting or reaching for the light, my fingers will be paralysed and unable to move. My legs will be paralysed and if I try to walk I have fallen twice and grazed my arms or shins. It only lasts a short while, perhaps 30 seconds or a minute, but the tingling in the arms or hands can last for up to an hour. I had a pituitary tumor at 21 and have chronic sarcoidosis. The getting too much sun appears to be a factor. It occurs more in summer than winter. The fact that the paralysis is not accompanied by much of the other stuff mentioned on sleep paralysis sites is a little worrying as I subsequently got blood clots and wondered if this paralysis stuff leading up to it could have been a factor. I had very low BP 90/60 and was wearing TED stockings to bed, which seemed to help a bit. Sarcoid also has a high sleep apnea occurrence and I wonder if I should raise this with my doctor.

  29. admin

    I would definitely go see a doctor and mention this to him/her. Sleep Paralysis should not linger on while in the waking state which leads me to believe this may involve another condition. Best of luck!

  30. Erin

    Hey everyone! This is a great site! In the last week I’ve had 2 episodes happen to me… both time, 1 of which was last night occurred at the tail end of a nightmare. The 1st time I knew I was asleep, didn’t know I couldn’t move because I didn’t try, but I had tingles going up from my feet, up to my head and back down to my feet, over and over again… I thought I had woken myself up but hours later I finally really woke up…Last night iI went to bed at 1230am, had an awful nightmare, where I watched a guy come up behind my boyfriend and say “you really thought you were gonna sneak up on me?!”, then the guy shot my boyfriend in the side of his head! I made myself wake up, had the tingles up and down my body again, but no SP that i can remember, looked at the clock on my phone thinking I had slept hours, but was shocked to see it was only 120am, which wasn’t even a full hour since I had fallen asleep! I don’t remember falling back to sleep, but thankfully I didn’t go back into the nightmare or start a whole new nightmare. Do you know of any information that could be linked to SP, tinglea & nightmares in early pregnancy? Just curious! If I am pregnant, I don’t know about it yet, haha, but it would be interesting to find a link between the 2, that could alert a woman that she is fact pregnant! Thanks for any help or further information you can give! Take care & sweet dreams to everyone! :-)

  31. Dave

    I get SP rarely and everytime I do it is the usual, can’t move, think there is someone approaching/in my room, can’t talk and eventually panic for 1-2 minutes etc. and it wakes me from it very alarmed.

    However, I have had it for the last three nights in a row (stress from work is probably a factor) and am pretty certain, that I managed to talk while in SP (or at least coming out of SP), but to do so took all my effort and I sounded (to my self) like a stroke victim (apologies for the poor analogy), but it took all my effort to talk and my speech was slurred and took all of my effort to pronounce any word semi-coherently as my mouth felt like it was asleep/not working properly and I had to really focus on talking any word. This was to warn to the imaginary person in/near my room to f*ck or else he would regret it (though there was not much I could have done with the inability to move). Shortly after I was fully awake and for all I know the talking was in my mind. But it was something that I have not experienced before.

    It is a horrible thing for people to experience and I understand and feel for everyone above, but I don’t get the spinning/floating or other sensations. I am lying in my position in bed, eyes open, unable to move with the sheer dread that I am paralysed and someone is in my place (which is virtually impossible to do in my place).

    This webpage is great by the way. Reading everyone else’s comments is like being in a support group as no-one else I know can relate to this.

  32. Louise

    Hello I’ve come across this page while having a google.I have had what I now belive to be sleep paralysis all my life although for the first time ever I felt as if someone was in my room and heard voices I get pins and needles down the left side of my arm to all the time in fact when I expierance this I sometimes think iam screaming out very loud in fact iam not and I always feel like iam rising up out of my body my most recent one was a few nights ago I never feel like anything is pushing my chest I sometimes feel like iam having some sort of seizer to although I do not suffer from anything medically I feel so trapped and when I feel like iam rising out my body I often feel like I might die and then before I know it iam fully awake I sometimes don’t know if my eyes are open at the time or not but I know when its gonna happen the more I’ve read the more I belive I do have this sleep paralys like I say this has happend on and off most of my life it did stop for a while bit always creeps back I don’t have a bad sleeping pattern in fact I love sleeping I get the odd night I don’t sleep fully but nothing bad I was wondering if anyone could tell me if my symptoms are those of this condition thanks

  33. Aimee

    Interesting comments. I usually call out from my ‘sleep’ to alert people around to wake me up from the horrible and disturbing sensations of sleep paralysis. I cry out to be woken up.

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