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Thread: Sleep Paralysis

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    Sleep Paralysis

    Sleep paralysis, or more properly, sleep paralysis with hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations have been singled out as a particularly likely source of beliefs concerning not only alien abductions, but all manner of beliefs in alternative realities and otherworldly creatures.

    Sleep paralysis is a condition in which someone, most often lying in a supine position, about to drop off to sleep, or just upon waking from sleep realizes that s/he is unable to move, or speak, or cry out. This may last a few seconds or several moments, occasionally longer. People frequently report feeling a "presence" that is often described as malevolent, threatening, or evil. An intense sense of dread and terror is very common. The presence is likely to be vaguely felt or sensed just out of sight but thought to be watching or monitoring, often with intense interest, sometimes standing by, or sitting on, the bed. On some occasions the presence may attack, strangling and exerting crushing pressure on the chest. People also report auditory, visual, proprioceptive, and tactile hallucinations, as well as floating sensations and out-of-body experiences (Hufford, 1982). These various sensory experiences have been referred to collectively as hypnagogic and hypnopompic experiences (HHEs). People frequently try, unsuccessfully, to cry out. After seconds or minutes one feels suddenly released from the paralysis, but may be left with a lingering anxiety. Extreme effort to move may even produce phantom movements in which there is proprioceptive feedback of movement that conflicts with visual disconfirmation of any movement of the limb. People may also report severe pain in the limbs when trying to move them.

    Several recent surveys including our own suggest that between 25-30% of the population reports that they have experienced at least a mild form of sleep paralysis at least once and about 20-30% of these have had the experience on several occasions. A few people may have very elaborate experiences almost nightly (or many times in a night) for years. Aside from many of the very disturbing features of the experience itself (described in succeeding sections) the phenomenon is quite benign. It was thought in the past that it was a significant part of the so-called "narcoleptic tetrad", but
    surveys of non-clinical populations, such as ours, suggest that the prevalence may be as high among the general population as among diagnosed narcoleptics.
    http://watarts.uwaterloo.ca/~acheyne/S_P.html

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    Re: Sleep Paralysis

    Sleep paralysis, or more properly, sleep paralysis with hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations have been singled out as a particularly likely source of beliefs concerning not only alien abductions,
    Hmmm...I had not thought of that but it makes a certain sense. I experience mild versions somewhat regularly -not able to move for a moment and sometimes accompanied by a very strong adrenal surge and "dream" to fill in the reason for the strong defensive reaction. I can see a particularly strong one happening to someone who didn't have any basis for understanding leaving them thinking they had been abducted. I find them kind of amusing after I have woken up completely and worked the adrenalin out but before that they are disturbing -the side affect of the adrenalin.

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    Of all the strange things that happen to me in my sleep and in my dreams, I can say that this at least, has never happened to me.

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    I have experienced this, at least once.

    The last time happened last autumn, when I woke up in the middle of the night and realized i was not able to move anything, not even lift my finger. Then I fell asleep again. I don't recall any sense of dread or anything like that.

    I suppose this happened because during that time I was dead tired, I had been "burning my candle on both ends", so to speak. Strange things may happen when being really really tired... :

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    Re: Sleep Paralysis

    Sifsvina, I can relate.

    I've never had full blown sleep paralysis per se, however, I frequently drift into a 'trance' which is somewhere inbetween consciousness and unconsciousness. I often see strange colours, have weird or religious thoughts, synesthesia (and what I perceive to be) hallucinations. It's like entering the twilight zone, but I can dig that. I think part of it comes from having an extremely active subconscious; my dreams are also very intense.

    As for the whole alien abduction thing, I suppose it does make sense. It's a fact that the body releases more cortisol (and thus anxiety) during the morning, and because of this people are more prone to having frightening experiences during their sleep paralysis. As for people having so many specific experiences with aliens and other entities, well... one might blame the proilferation of aliens in the media, pop culture, and Hollywood. Film's like M. Night Shyamalan's 'Signs' are only going to make the situation worse.

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    Re: Sleep Paralysis

    I think part of it comes from having an extremely active subconscious; my dreams are also very intense.
    yes! I have the most epic acid trips for dreams at times. My subconscious is often relatively conscious for me so I'm not likely to mistake one of these for reality:-) I think a "trance" is very different than "sleep paralysis". Having experienced both (and trances of the voluntary kind as well) I can say for sure for myself.

    It's a fact that the body releases more cortisol (and thus anxiety) during the morning, and because of this people are more prone to having frightening experiences during their sleep paralysis.
    But normal/healthy levels of cortisol shouldn't cause anxiety. In fact low levels can make it hard to move! I know I have been tested as having the opposite of what I should (mine is low in morning high at night) and it is very hard for me to wake in the morning and very hard for me to get to sleep at night. And I don't think these experiences usually happen in the morning. I would say (just my guess and my experience for myself) that "sleep paralysis" is more likely to happen falling asleep in a strange place or in the evening or night. Being jolted "awake" by this experience and then falling back to sleep before coming fully awake would be more likely to create a "memory". I wonder if it has to do with an adrenaline spike (from a dream or from something else that creates the dream as an effect) happening when the cortisol is low and the body getting "caught" in the imbalance. Ah, biochemistry is so fascinating even from a complete amateur perspective:-) Hmmm...I thought high cortisol was caused by anxiety not the other way around, I'll have to go look that up:-)

    As for people having so many specific experiences with aliens and other entities, well... one might blame the proliferation of aliens in the media, pop culture, and Hollywood.
    But there has always been belief is "others" of some sort, "aliens" is just a different form. Alfar, dwarfs, fairies, angels, dijin, etc. and many tales of being stolen away. I would even argue that the media has inured us to most real belief and we have lost something because of it. Lost the sense that there are things greater than ourselves.
    BTW, I believe there are many other reasons for "mystical" and strange experiences, both scientific and "magical" (I think there is a point where they do not negate each other) this is just a plausible explanation for "abduction memories".

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    Sleep paralysis happens all the time

    I actually had an experience like this when I was 22 years old. In my case, it was more "hag" like. It wasn't until something like 10 years later that I found out what had happened. I found a book entitled
    The Terror That Comes in the Night by David Hufford in the Newman Library at VPI & SU, which describes the phenomenon from the standpoint of folklore.

    Has anyone else experienced this?
    **************************************** ***********************
    By KARLA WARD
    McClatchy Newspapers

    FORT WORTH, Texas - Imagine waking up in the night and being unable to move.

    So you lie there for what seems like hours, trying to wiggle your fingers or toes, but you are paralyzed.

    You want to call out for help, but you can't draw a deep enough breath to make a loud sound.

    Eventually, you're able to move a little, and then your whole body begins to respond again.

    Scary, huh?

    Weird, too.

    But it happens to people all the time.

    It's called sleep paralysis, and it typically occurs at the very beginning or end of sleep. The experience lasts only a few minutes at the most, and there's no harm done -- aside from the fright.

    "It's terrifying the first time it happens," said Dr. Barbara Phillips, director of the Samaritan Sleep Center and chairwoman of the board of the National Sleep Foundation.

    Phillips said in an e-mail interview that sleep paralysis happens as the body is coming out of REM -- or rapid-eye-movement -- sleep.

    "During non-REM sleep, our brains are 'turned off' but our bodies can be active," she said. This is when people experience sleep disturbances such as tooth-grinding or sleepwalking.

    "In contrast, our brains are very active (probably as active as when we are awake) during REM sleep, but we are actually paralyzed," she said. Researchers think that's what keeps us from acting out our dreams.

    "With sleep paralysis, the paralysis that is normal during REM sleep intrudes into the waking state for one reason or another," she said.

    Kathryn Hansen, director of the St. Joseph Hospital Sleep Wellness Center, put it this way: "The brain wakes up before the body wakes up."

    Sometimes, sleep paralysis is accompanied by hypnagogic hallucinations, or "waking dreams," Phillips said.

    In many such cases, people think they see a dark or menacing figure in the room with them, or they hear a strange sound but can't pinpoint the source. Some researchers have hypothesized that people who report alien abductions are experiencing sleep paralysis in conjunction with such a hallucination.

    The experience of sleep paralysis combined with a hallucination "can be very intense," said Dr. Kevin Nelson, a University of Kentucky neurologist who has studied the correlation between sleep paralysis and near-death experiences. "They may feel like there's a pressure on their chest, that they can't breathe. They may feel like they're dying."

    Nelson said episodes of sleep paralysis are "a very common thing," but it's difficult to pinpoint exactly how common.

    "The striking thing is, people don't talk about them," he said.

    In some cultures, there are myths to explain the experience, or words used to describe it. In those places, Nelson said, it is more frequently reported.

    The Japanese have a linguistic term, kanashibari, for the experience; in Newfoundland, it is described as a visit from "the old hag."

    "In some cultures it's very well recognized," he said.

    Phillips said as many as 25 percent of people might be affected by sleep paralysis at some point in their lives, and investigators at Stanford University have suggested that as many as half of college students experience it.

    Nelson and other medical professionals who deal with sleep disorders said they sometimes see patients who are disturbed by the paralysis but have not talked to anyone about it because it seems so strange.

    "They're not alone," Nelson said. "They're not weird because they have it."

    People are more likely to experience sleep paralysis, the experts said, if they are undergoing sleep deprivation, work odd shifts or have erratic sleep schedules. Hansen said it also can come with stress or anxiety.

    People who are in withdrawal from alcohol or drugs that can suppress REM sleep, such as antidepressants, also can be predisposed to the experience. For example, Phillips said, a person who misses a dose of antidepressant medication might be at risk.

    "It really just kind of correlates to lifestyles," she said.

    The "classic example is the college kid who parties hard during spring break, and wakes up on the beach unable to move," Phillips said. That person has deprived himself or herself of sleep, gotten onto an odd sleep schedule and drunk to much -- all three of the risk factors.

    Sleep paralysis and hypnagogic hallucinations are generally harmless, but the sleep experts said they can sometimes be associated with narcolepsy.

    In most cases, though, Hansen said they are a sign that the person needs "to develop some good sleep habits," such as decreasing caffeine intake before bedtime, getting regular exercise and going to bed and rising at the same time each day.

    "If sleep paralysis and extreme daytime sleepiness persist even with adequate, appropriate sleep, it's time to see a doctor," Phillips said.

    Hansen said that once, when she knew she hadn't gotten enough rest, there was a moment when she couldn't move or speak as she was waking up from a dream.

    Sleep paralysis wasn't frightening to her, though.

    "I laughed," she said. "Now I know how to describe it."

    Source

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    Re: Sleep paralysis happens all the time

    It happens to me every once and a while. I can remember 5-10 such occasions.

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    It happened to me a few days ago, I was in a state between sleep and awake and I had a dream that a board was pressing against me, strange dream. I dried to push it away but my arms weren't responding. It was scary because I tried to move and my mind sent that message but my body wasn't reacting, it was locked! I looked it up and I'm relived to find it's a common thing and a normal reaction of the body. It does its job to protect us while we sleep. To move and react to things during sleep, that's uncommon (a parasomnia).

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    Oh, this is very frightening, and it has happened to me a about three times in the past few years. But usually I try to push past it in order to get back into the dream state. I can also control my dreams, so does that mean I am a lucid dreamer?
    'Well, what are you?" said the Pigeon. "I can see you're trying to invent something!" "I-I'm a little girl," said Alice, rather doubtfully. She found herself at last in a beautiful garden, among the bright flower-beds and the cool fountains.



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