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Not Able To Scream, Not Able To Move!!

by Sanjiv
(Rhode island, USA)

I started having such thing from last 3-4 years. I am 26 now. Sometimes when I sleep I get a dream, then my mind will tell me that its just a dream and you need to wake up. Then I start trying to wake up. I will try very hard to open my eyes. But I will not be able to open my eyes. That makes me more scared. I try to call people around me but the sound wont come off. No one will be able to listen me. I try to move but I wont be able to move as well. It will be very very scary.

This will last for 3-4 minutes. and as I remember sometimes my shouting came off and people nearby me they noticed me shouting.

Mostly it feels like a dream only. because I try shout for my mummy, but she wont be nearby, but in my dream I see her nearby and shout for her.

And yes I have got a way to get out of this, now I always keep in mind whenever I feel like this, I keep myself calm and try give myself a jerk to open my eyes. And after lots of tries I am able to open my eyes. So jerk is the key for me. (I saw the jerk thing in 'Inception' movie :D, felt like they copied my idea).

Anyways, I am confused if this is sleep paralysis OR a dream that I am getting again and again. because of this thing I am always scared of sleeping. I got such situation more than 10-15 times in last 3-4 years and also I observed that it happened most of the time in my afternoon sleep. Only once or twice in night sleep. And hence I am always always avoiding sleeping in afternoon cause I am sure if I sleep in afternoon I will get such dream (or whatever it is).

Kevin: Hi Sanjiv, thanks for writing in. The reason you experience these episodes (which do sound like sleep paralysis) during afternoon naps and not during full nights of sleep is probably because you are more likely to awaken during a period of REM sleep during your nap. You can try changing the duration of your naps for a possible way to avoid the episodes. For instance, if you normally sleep for an hour, try taking a shorter 20 minute nap instead, so you awaken before your REM period.

Key to understanding why this works is knowing about REM atonia and why sleep paralysis happens, which you can learn about here.

Also, what you say about your mind telling you "You're dreaming and you need to wake up": wouldn't a cooler thing for your mind to tell you be, "You're dreaming, physical world rules don't apply to you now. Nice. Let's have some fun!" I suggest learning about lucid dreaming and the way this can help your sleep paralysis. You said you've seen Inception? The whole plot of Inception is based on lucid dreaming. In fact, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who played Arthur in the film, came to our Sleep and Dreams class last year after they were done filming to listen to the lucid dreaming lectures. But yeah, definitely check into it if you can, because lucidity has been known to be an affective way of dealing with sleep paralysis.

Warm wishes,

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