Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sleep Paralysis

I was watching this video today, and my curiosity was immediately sparked when Hank mentioned dealing with sleep paralysis. The rest of the video, the idea of the improbability of place, normally would have been thought inspiring enough, but I was distracted by the idea of sleep paralysis.

This was the first time I'd ever heard this term, but immediately, I knew that I knew, experientially and somatically, exactly what he meant. 

A brief consultation with Dr. Wikipedia, confirmed for me that I have, on many occasions suffered from sleep paralysis. One line in particular stood out to me: 

"The hallucinatory element to sleep paralysis makes it even more likely that someone will interpret the experience as a dream, since completely fanciful or dream-like objects may appear in the room alongside one's normal vision. " 

This happens to me easily twice a month, at least. It happens much more frequently if I've had a mid-day nap, but it also happens to me after a full night of sleep. I really can't tell you the number of times this has happened to me, and I thought it was just a really unpleasant, really uncomfortable dream. As far as I can recall, it has only happened to me when waking (Hypnopompic Sleep Paralysis), but never when I'm falling asleep (Hypnagogic Sleep Paralysis

While it is happening to me, I am always certain I'm newly awake, but find myself totally and completely unable to move. In the moment it feels very real and sharp; yet whenever I've "woken up" (been able to move again) it always seemed so foggy and surreal that I just assumed it was a dream. I'm basically positive that I don't have narcolepsy, though I do occasionally (not terribly frequently) have lucid dreams. I am going to start paying closer attention to it, to see if I can correlate it to any of these conditions WebMdhas outlined:

Who Develops Sleep Paralysis?
  • a lack of sleep
  • a sleep schedule that changes
  • mental conditions such as stress or bipolar disorder
  • sleeping on the back
  • other sleep problems such as narcolepsy or nighttime leg cramps
  • use of certain medications

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