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I was 15 years old the first time it happened. It was the most terrifying thing I had ever experienced and I didn’t even know what the hell it was. Worst of all, it kept happening for years before I was able to stop it. This is my horrifying experience with sleep paralysis and how I was finally able to put an end to it.

Me and my mother had been staying the weekend at a lake house that one of our family Friends owned. It was two-story house with a really nice basement that was converted into a guest floor and game. There is only one bedroom in the basement and that’s where I was sleeping for the weekend. There is nothing bad that happened that day and it honestly been a fantastic experience being out on the lake and boating with friends.

The first event

That first night though is when the event first took place that would continue to go on for years. I open my eyes to a dark room with its only illumination coming from the porch lights surrounding houses. My head faced a decorative clock on an otherwise empty wall as I laid on my side. I distinctly remember the hands being at 2:21 AM.

My throat felt dry, urging me to get up and get a drink of water from the bathroom at the end of the bed.

I wanted to get up but no matter what I did I just couldn’t. I wanted to yell for help but I couldn’t even open my mouth to order a sound. My entire body remain on animated except for my eyes. It started to feel like something was setting on my body and weighing me down. It literally felt like someone was sitting on top of me in order to restrain my movements.

The longer this went on, the more I panicked . It literally felt like someone was sitting on top of me and I felt like I couldn’t breeze. I started to sweat and feel chills all over my body. I felt anxiety like I’ve never experienced before. The shadows on the wall began to distort themselves and play tricks on my mind.

After what seemed like an eternity, I slowly began to regain control of my body. To my surprise, it was only 2:24AM when I was able to set up in the bed. I was scared shitless and did not go back to sleep.

Now, keep in mind I was only 15 years old at the time. So the first thing that was going through my head was this being a paranormal event. But the last thing that I planned on doing was going back down and that damn room.

I was so freaked out that I actually asked our family friend if anybody had died in that house. The answer was no.

Second sleep paralysis incident

I pretty much discredited the event at some weird dream or maybe a crazy phenomenon in that house. Regardless, I try to put it out of my mind and just move forward. Second time in a nap and was whenever I was at home in my own bed. And this time it lasted longer.

I was way more upset after it happened the second time because I realize this wasn’t a chance occurrence. I was so worried that I could hardly sleep at night. Talking to my friends or family about it was out of the question. Because in my mind, they were going to think I was batshit crazy if I told him them this stuff.

And it just kept on happening every two or three weeks. I struggled to sleep in fear of what was to come. And my grades in school really started to reflect my sleep deprivation. I would skip class and go to nap in the library between the columns of bookshelves.

The breaking point came when the sleepwalking started. One night I just went to bed and everything was great. The next thing I know, my mother is waking me up and freaking out while I’m standing in the kitchen with raw chicken in my mouth. Apparently, I had slept walked into the kitchen and started eating chicken that had been marinating overnight.

The nightmare

At this point I knew that something what was wrong with me and that things could get worse if I didn’t try and do something. One day while I was in the school library I decide to do some research various books about dreams and nightmares. Inside of one of those books was a picture. I had an instant connection when I saw it and felt a sense of familiarity. This was the picture….

‘The Nightmare’ is a 1781 oil painting by Henry Fuseli

Below the picture was information on a condition known as sleep paralysis. This painting was the very embodiment of what I felt during each episode.  Many people even experience hallucinations which is actually your brain projecting dream imagery. The best way to explain it is that your mind wakes up but your body doesn’t. It feels like literally waking up dead.

Many researches actually believe that sleep paralysis can account for alot of crazy shit like being abducted by aliens and demonic possession. Before modern science, I’m sure that attributing this condition to evil spirits was the only way people could explain sleep paralysis.

What causes sleep paralysis?

Sleep paralysis is a phenomenon in which an individual, either during falling asleep or awakening, briefly experiences an inability to move, speak, or react. It is a transitional state between wakefulness and sleep.  The underlying mechanism is believed to result from disrupted REM sleep, when there should be a general inability to move muscle to prevent the sleeper from acting out their dreams. About 8% of people experience sleep paralysis at one point in their life.

It is often accompanied by terrifying hallucinations to which one is unable to react due to paralysis. These hallucinations often involve a person or supernatural creature suffocating or terrifying the individual, accompanied by a feeling of pressure on one’s chest and difficulty breathing. Another common hallucination type involves intruders (human or supernatural) entering one’s room or lurking outside one’s window, accompanied by a feeling of dread.

Taken from Wikipedia

Keep in mind that this was the very early 2000’s and information wasn’t as readily available as it is right now. So I had to do quite a bit of research for several months before I was able to gain in adequate understanding of what I was dealing with. It didn’t help matters that we didn’t have the Internet at my house back then. Plus, the high school libraries slow dial-up Internet made online research very cumbersome.

I came to conclusion that my sleep paralysis was caused by a number of things. For me it was having suffered a traumatic event, over-consumption of stimulants, and inconsistent sleep patterns. But other things that can trigger an episode are sleep deprivation and adverse reactions to sleep disorder medications. However, people with anxiety and depression can also be susceptible.

My dad died the previous fall and we were very close. I was deeply affected by this event and I had a hard time sleeping because he was always on my mind. I was constantly exhausted during school so I was taking Stacker pills and drinking soda pops. This led to a bad habit of caffeine reliance which lasted into the evening because I would a pick-me-up before going to the gym in the evenings with my friends.

So here’s how I was able to stop my sleep paralysis

It took a lifestyle change, but after a while I would only have an episode once or twice a year instead of every other week.

Here is what I did.

  1. Going to bed at a consistent time every night was the first thing i did. My goal would be to get seven hours of sleep. I really think that this was one of the biggest factors in helping me overcome sleep paralysis.
  2. Dealing with my father’s death in a healthy way was the next part. I kept a journal and would write about him and started talking more openly to my family about his death. This didn’t stop the hurt, but it sure helped.
  3. I started weaning myself off of all the caffeine and sodas that I was drinking. I traded the Stackers for black coffee and the only time I would drink it was in the early mornings.
  4. Me and my buddies started going to the local gym at 5:30am. I’ve done post about the benefits of working out in the morning before because it is the best way to get your workout out of the way and it also makes you feel really great sustained energy all day long. I would always have a couple of cups of black coffee on my way to work out with my friends and that was the only caffeine that I would have throughout the entire day.
  5. Fifth, I started taking a sleep aid every night before bed. I would take 5 mg of melatonin  to keep from waking up. The melatonin would help keep my mind stay in deep REM sleep so I wasn’t waking up going into paralysis. Some people don’t like melatonin because they have issues with very weird dreams when they use it. I don’t know how common this is but its never been an issue for me. Supplemental science has progressed in the past 17 years and there are some other really good options available. One of my favorites is Anesthetized because it knocks me the hell out and I don’t wake up feeling hungover.

Its been over 8 years since I had an episode

I was in my early twenties the last time it happened . People that suffer from this condition is how important it is for you to try remaining calm and assure yourself of whats going on. I got really good control of this the last few experiences and was able to relax enough to go back to sleep.

There is an excellent documentary called ‘The Nightmare’ that I highly suggest if you are interested in knowing more about this.