How to Avoid Sleep Paralysis

April 10, 2013

I want you to imagine a scenario with me. This scenario may be a common one for you (I hope not) while some of you may have experienced this from time to time. A few individuals may never even have been through this at all. You with me? Let’s begin.

Your eyes are closed, but you see vivid images familiar to your imaginations. Are they dreams? You’re not sure. It seems very close to reality, but you doubt its realness because it’s just so unusual. The dream you’re seeing (whatever you would believe it is to be) switches themes from time to time. You realize something: “This has got to be a dream!” So, convinced with the truth that you’re consciously dreaming, you wake yourself up.

However, you do so only mentally. You are fully aware you are lying down on your bed, with the blankets over your body. Though you might even be able to hear sounds from “the real world”, your body is fast asleep. You can’t move! You try to move the tips of your fingers but not even that can work. You try thrashing your limbs in panic, but your body simply won’t respond. The panic and tension really begins.

Sleep Paralysis

You have a difficult time breathing. It’s like there’s a heavy weight pressing against your chest. And worse… you feel someone… no, something… lying down next to you. You long for release! You just want it to end! Wake up from this nightmare, if you can even call it that. It seems forever, but finally you wake your whole body up. You sit there on your bed, breathing heavily like you just ran a marathon. You think to yourself: “What the heck did just happen?”

So what was that?

Well, my friend, you’ve just experienced sleep paralysis. It’s basically when your brain and the rest of your body do not wake up at the same time. What keeps your body from moving is the same “safety function” your body has that prevents you from actually physically acting out your dreams. Except in this case, it’s used in the wrong time in the wrong way. What sucks is that sleep paralysis is one of the scariest things one person can ever experience. Personally speaking, I get sleep paralysis more often than most people do. I just had one last night before writing this post actually, but that doesn’t mean I’m perfectly used to it.

What causes it in the first place?

Irregular sleeping patterns, (oversleeping or undersleeping) is a major contributor to this happening. Another cause for this unwanted phenomenon is the simple act of sleeping on your back. Increased stress, a lifestyle change (withdrawal of some sort), or excessive consumption of alcohol without much sleep are also causes.

Sleep Disorders

So how should you prevent it?

What are the steps you must undergo in order for you to never experience this horrible occurrence ever again? One. Do not ever accustom yourself to an irregular sleeping pattern. Try to sleep at a specific hour of the night as consistent as possible and wake up at a fixed time in the morning. Two. Try not to sleep lying on your back. This increases the chances of experiencing sleep paralysis.

Three. This third one isn’t really a way to prevent it, but it’s a way to stop the experience once you’re under the “spell” of it. Try to move your facial muscles as much as you can until you are released from the bondage. Number Four is another way to escape the experience. What do you need to do exactly? Relax. Simply relax. Panicking will just make your experience even more unpleasant. If you’re in that experience, just “enjoy” whatever you can enjoy out of it. Just look at it at a different way. Don’t be scared. You won’t die. The feeling that you can’t breathe is actually false. You CAN breathe. You just feel like you can’t.

All in all, sleep paralysis is really just an unpleasant experience. Just remember, something you create to scare yourself (even subconsciously) is only as powerful as your will to be scared by it. Remember, “I can’t scare myself. I can’t scare myself. This is just my tired brain playing tricks on me.” The next time you experience sleep paralysis, just remember that you can simply wake up and walk right out of it, not letting it ruin the beautiful day ahead of you.