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Freaked Out

by Paige

I believe I suffer from Sleep Paralysis. Every night right before I'm about to go to sleep everything slowly fades darker then it already is, it feels like I'm slowly falling sideways, then I can't move, talk or scream...the only way I can get out of it is if I move my jaw back and forth or if I try to move my fingers...

One weird thing is when I move my fingers I hear scraping but I wake up and my hand wasn't against anything to make that noise it was just in the air...? I go in and out of it repeatedly (feels like 20 times) before I actually fall asleep.

This has been happening for 10 years..I'm now 16. It's been really active lately so I decided to research about it..I came across this page and once I saw the painting "The Nightmare" that's posted here, I've never been so freaked out before for a few of my experiences I've seen a gremlin demon like creature crouching on my chest staring at me just like that painting. I don't know if this is normal but I've had a paralysis experience going down the stairs...

Kevin: Hey Paige, thanks for sharing your story. When you say you had a paralysis experience going down the stairs
do you mean you were awake and just walking down the stairs when your body became paralyzed? If that more or less describes it, that sounds like it could have been what's called a cataplectic attack.

(Cataplexy is the sudden loss of muscle tone caused by strong emotions. A funny joke might cause weakness of the knees, or complete (but temporary) paralysis, wherein the person remains conscious. Attacks occur anytime during the waking period, but are usually present after several weeks or months of excessive daytime sleepiness.)

Cataplexy, in addition to sleep paralysis at the onset of sleep, are symptoms of a neurological condition called narcolepsy. You can read more about narcolepsy and see if you can relate to anything else on this page.

The gremlin imagery you describe being reminded of after seeing "The Nightmare" is known as hypnagogic hallucinations, and are actually experienced by quite a large number of people, despite the fact that we almost never hear about them.

Since your sleep paralysis is particularly active lately you may be interested in reading this book about taking control of it, written by a dream researcher who has dealt with it for almost two decades. Additionally, if you think cataplexy sounds like something you've experienced, you may want to consider talking with your doctor about it.


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Welcome! This site is continuously being created by students of Dr. William C. Dement's Sleep And Dreams course at Stanford University.

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More Sleep Resources

The Zeo

A revolution in personal sleep tracking, the Zeo is a wireless headband that transmits your brainwaves in realtime to a dock (pictured here) or your smartphone. The result? You can wake up and see exactly what stages of sleep you were in during the night! Unprecedented personalized sleep knowledge.

Sleep Paralysis: A Dreamer's Guide

Sleep Paralysis Treatment Book

Ever woken up paralyzed? A surprising number of us have, believe it or not. But few know the actual causes of this phenomenon, and fewer still how to exert control over it. Dream researcher and sleep paralysis expert Ryan Hurd shares breakthrough insights into how to do just that.

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