Sleep paralysis is when you have been sleeping and you feel like you are awake but unable to move. You feel as though you are paralyzed. This phenomenon is also called Awareness during Sleep Paralysis (ASP). It often leaves you feeling afraid, especially if you also see or hear things that are not really there or you feel like you are being choked or suffocated. You may feel frightened, but cannot call for help. Sleep paralysis may happen only once or you may have it frequently and even numerous times during your sleep and awakening period. It can be a truly terrifying experience in any event.
Some people consider sleep paralysis as work done by evil spirits. It has been referred to many different things including the “old hag” syndrome and alien abductions. Almost every culture throughout history has had stories of evil creatures that terrify helpless humans at night.
Modern science believes they have the answer to sleep paralysis. In order to understand how a body becomes unable to move or “paralyzed” while you are awake, it is necessary to understand sleep cycles. We discussed this in a previous lesson, but here is a recap. During sleep, the brain experiences two different states called non-REM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. During non-REM sleep our body only has a few movements such as tossing and turning around in bed and other actions such as talking in your sleep. Sleepwalking can even take place during this time. Heart rate and breathing occur at a constant rate during non-REM sleep and the eyes move slowly.
One cycle of REM and NREM sleep lasts about 90 minutes. Non-REM sleep occurs first and lasts about three-fourths of your overall sleep time. During non-REM sleep, your body relaxes and restores itself. At the end of non-REM, your sleep shifts to REM.
During REM sleep, dreaming takes place. Your heart rate and breathing vary at different rates and your eyes move quickly, but the rest of your body remains very relaxed. Your brain stops your muscles from moving during REM sleep.
During sleep, your body alternates between REM and non-REM sleep cycles. If you become aware before the REM cycle has finished, you may experience sleep paralysis.
Sleep paralysis happens when a person passes between stages of wakefulness and sleep. It probably occurs to prevent a person from “acting out” a dream and becoming injured or injuring someone else. Sleep researchers conclude that, in most cases, sleep paralysis is simply a sign that your body is not moving smoothly through the stages of sleep. Rarely is sleep paralysis linked to deep underlying psychiatric problems.
Preventing Sleep Paralysis
There’s no need to fear the “old hag,” evil creatures or alien abductors. If you have occasional sleep paralysis, you can take actions to control this disorder:
- Get the proper amount of sleep
- Relax before bedtime
- Relieve stress in your life
- Try new sleeping positions
- Go to your doctor if sleep paralysis occurs regularly
Leaving Your Body
Many believe that sleep paralysis is the gateway of astral projection or out of body experiences. After you enter sleep paralysis, you can separate your consciousness from your physical body and move your consciousness into your astral body. During sleep paralysis, your consciousness is associated closely with your physical body and not your astral body. Trying to remove yourself from your physical body will not happen. This will only take place when you are dying or dead.
To make astral projection occur, you need to transfer your consciousness from your physical body to your astral body. Close your eyes and keep them closed, then try to push forward with your consciousness and imagine that your consciousness is moving forward. Even though you may not feel any movement, your consciousness will eventually move forward into your astral body.
Focus your awareness on your face and concentrate on breathing slowly and gently. Don’t be startled if you feel vibrations or a rapid heartbeat, this is normal. It is important to remain calm during this period. If you become frightened or open your eyes prematurely, your awareness will immediately return rapidly back into your physical body then you will probably wake up. Keep your eyes closed and have faith that your consciousness is moving forward. Keep pushing forward with your consciousness as hard as you can until you are approximately ten or twenty feet away from your body. This distance varies among people. Once you are far enough away from your body and the vibrations and sounds are gone, you will be able separate your consciousness from your physical body and move into your astral body. You can get up or float right out of your body to begin your unbelievable travel experience.
What Does Lucid Dreaming Have To Do With Sleep Paralysis?
You may experience sleep paralysis if you become aware before the REM cycle has finished. This is an example of lucid dreaming because you are still in REM sleep.
Stephen LaBerge and other lucid dream researchers have found that lucid dreams happen almost solely during REM sleep. Also, it has been determined that the body is “paralyzed” more strongly during lucid dreams than during conventional REM sleep dreams, probably because the brain is more vigorous.
So every lucid dream is an example of Awareness during Sleep Paralysis (ASP). But lucid dreamers are only sometimes aware of the Sleep Paralysis. More often, the lucid dreamer focuses on controlling the lucid dream or focuses on something much more fascinating than being paralyzed.
You’ve awakened into the astonishing dream world!
© 2009 – 2012 Gary Gardner, All Rights Reserved