Have you ever been so scared at night you can feel your heart thumping so fast that you’re frightened that the sound of your own beating heart can be heard? I have, I have been that scared! Have you ever had a nightmare that as you awake, leaves you shaking? Have you ever had a nightmare so bad, you can’t stop thinking about it the entire next day? I have and if you have ever suffered from a sleep disorder you will know and understand how bad they can be.
Sleep disorders are a massive thing. Looking this up on the internet I found that according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, about 40 million people suffer from chronic long term sleep disorders in the United States alone. I do wonder where these figures come from as I know many people that suffer from sleep problems and they have never reported it. There are many disorders, one of the rare ones is Narcolepsy, this is when a person falls asleep instantly whether they are working or driving which is so dangerous. I wanted to share with you about one disorder called sleep paralysis which terrorised me.
Now, they have made movies out of this as it is very scary. I am however a person that needs roughly 7-8 hours sleep a night. If I do not get the right amount of sleep, it affects my mood and body the next day. I am really quite the grump if I have not had my sleep and it affects my concentration too. Without the right amount, I am tired and I get what I would describe as brain fog.
At the age of 13, I was involved in a severe accident, whilst in intensive care my parents thought I was not going to make it. It was during my recovery when I had my first ever experience of sleep paralysis. For those that have not experienced this, it is petrifying. Firstly it happens to me when I am going to sleep but as far as your concerned, you haven’t actually fallen asleep just yet and you’re completely conscious. Suddenly a presence is felt in the room. My body then goes completely solid in whatever position I am in, you become completely paralysed. I am able to breathe but unable to open my mouth, eyes or move any part of my body. My heart races through fear and it feels like my pounding heart will come out of my chest.
I recall my first every episode and wondering, have I just died? Did something go wrong and the Doctors missed something and now I am paralysed? All I wanted was help and to be able to move but no matter how much I tried nothing worked. There is a moment in the film the Matrix where Keanu Reeve’s mouth morphs into the rest of his face and he really struggles to talk, I recall watching that scene and thinking how similar it was to how I felt when I suffered from sleep paralysis.
I suffered from this for many years. I would awake screaming until it had passed and I was finally “released”. During my teenage years, I actually did not know what was happening and was told I was being visited by ghosts! Not only was the sleep paralysis episode bad enough, but to be told a ghost was visiting me, scared me the life out of me. My family installed a pull light which they put next to my bed as I needed light as soon as it was over. I was so scared as a teenager. This led to me not wanting to go to bed to sleep and when I had an experience I did not want back to sleep. It was so freaky. Bearing in mind that there was no internet when I was in my teens in order for me to look this up.
I still to this day suffer, but I know now I am not haunted by ghosts or demons. It is a sleep disorder which is bought on for me when I am stressed. I wondered how many people suffer from this and according to the internet 8% of the population has suffered/suffering from sleep paralysis. It would seem this is hereditary, my father has had this. Last year, just before my daughter had her mock exams she also started experiencing this.
I am now able to control this much better. When it happens I do not fight it. I now relax my mind and within moments I am released and able to get a good night sleep. The only thing I think about now when it happens is that I have let myself become too stressed and that it is my body and mind telling me to look after myself.
The mind is a very powerful thing and it can play tricks on you. Due to my petrifying experience, I started researching the mind. I am quite geeky when it comes to learning. I am absolutely fascinated by how our brains work and how thoughts affect our well-being and our lives. It really makes me wonder what people thought was happening to them 100 years ago.
Since I started meditating on a frequent basis I find this has kept the sleep paralysis away. I also take a few minutes to de-stress before falling asleep. I am lucky to now fall straight to sleep and awake refreshed. I make sure my room is uncluttered as this really helps my mind. I have a lavender spray by the side of the bed which I spray my pillows with. The smell of lavender has beneficial qualities that have been used for many years to aid sleep. I also have a lavender balm which I rub into my temples.
I found this luxury sleep and pillow spray that has essential oils which may help you get a restful night sleep (click on picture below)
If you are suffering from this, I would look the trigger points. I did read that some people found it was triggered when they slept in certain positions. Personally, I have suffered numerous times before whilst sleeping on my side but it would be worth a try to see what works best for you.
Below is the video of my Sleep paralysis story.
Thank you for reading. I would be so grateful if you shared this story.