What is sleep paralysis?

What is sleep paralysis?

What exactly is sleep paralysis? This is the mechanism that kicks in when you are sleeping that prevents you from physically acting out your dreams. But when a person is experiencing lucid dreaming, they may become more conscious of the sleep paralysis as it takes over their body. Feelings regarding this sleep paralysis vary with the person. Some may be frightened, while others are excited — this depends on your mindset.

Sleep paralysis (REM atonia), can actually lead to lucid dreaming, and is commonly linked to wake-induced techniques, such as the hypnagogic methods. This begins when you fall asleep and blocks the brain’s signals that actually tell your muscles to move. As you sleep and you start to dream, the interpretation of this signal prevents your body from physically walking around.

While sleeping, your mind is totally unconscious or focused on a dream. Most people do not notice sleep paralysis because your mind is drifting away. Typically, when you wake up at night, the sleep paralysis switches off, but sometimes the mechanism fails — and it creates a sleep disorder known as isolated sleep paralysis (ISP). ISP is an involuntary state, and lucid dreaming is not the cause of this. You will know if you already suffer from this.

What usually happens with ISP is you wake up, unable to move, and of course, panic. This is the typical reaction that would hit anyone at this time. As you panic more, your heart races and you may even see a hallucinatory figure reach towards you and try to strangle you. This type of experience has been documented for hundreds of years all over the world. If you find yourself experiencing involuntary sleep paralysis and wish to end it quickly, these are some of the things you can do:

Don’t fight it.

Relax your whole body into the paralysis.

Wiggle your fingers and toes, if possible. Move your eyes around and look at the room. Focus on breathing deeply, and if possible, move your mouth. Think peaceful, relaxing thoughts, and sing in your mind.

Once your brain recognizes that your body parts are awake, it will shut off the paralysis mechanism and allow you to return to full wakefulness. Lucid dreamers do not fear sleep paralysis. The sleep paralysis is actually a transition phase that allows them to have some really amazing lucid dreams.

Lucid dreamers have the ability to use the sleep paralysis as a stepping stone to dreamland, and refuse to loiter in a place of fear or unknowing. An experienced lucid dreamer can use sleep paralysis deliberately with a specific goal in mind. This way, you are able to focus on your own internal dream world. The best thing to do if you are able to feel sleep paralysis coming on is to relax — you are about to have a lucid dream!

Once you realize that there is nothing to fight against, and that this sleep paralysis is not a problem, the more relaxed you can be. The best thing to do is to just sink into the bed and relax. The quicker you can learn to focus beyond your physical body and start to visualize your fantastic dream world, the more relaxed you will be.

There are a few people who do encounter other entities while experiencing sleep paralysis, but this is only a fraction of the population. You could potentially see a grotesque man or a devil, looming in your bedroom doorway. These hallucinations are completely unrealistic, similar to a cartoon character — but can appear very realistic. The face can rush toward you and then just disappear. There are times when these hallucinations are not always negative — some people have seen spirit guides, religious icons or ghosts, and feel they are blessed to have had a visitation.

The human brain is so complex, and is very capable of creating these. The treatment for this is to shower feelings of love toward the imagined entity. This should lift your mood, do away with your fears, and actually transform the figure into a dream figure. Once the figure reacts to your will, ask them to help you out of your body — they will free you from your paralysis or may even become your personal dream guide.