Imagine lying in bed getting ready to fall asleep. Just as you start to fall asleep, you see a dark hooded figure standing at door. This figure starts to move closer to you and reaches for you. During all of this you are stuck and can’t move or scream out for help. Your heart is racing and your adrenaline is pumping. You can’t move for what feels like a lifetime until finally your body responds.
This scenario described above lays out what happens during a recurrent hypnagogic sleep paralysis episode with hallucinations. What this is, is a phenomenon that happens when an individual briefly experiences an inability to move, speak, or react. Having experienced hypnagogic sleep paralysis since I was a young teen, I can tell you that each episode is terrifying and no matter how many episodes that you’ve experienced they never get easier.
Through my experiences with sleep paralysis, I have learned a few techniques that help reduce the frequency and severity of my episodes. The first is the position that you fall asleep in. There is research that suggests that sleeping in the supine position, on one’s back, is the most common position that sleep paralysis occurs in. When getting ready to fall asleep try sleeping on your stomach or side to help prevent the sleep paralysis.
The next technique came from my mindfulness exercises. I started incorporating the seven attitudes of mindfulness specifically in relation to my sleep. Of the seven attitudes the two that have helped the most is letting go of the fear of sleeping and trusting that I will be able to sleep without experiencing a sleep paralysis episode. By focusing on these attitudes of mindfulness and through meditation, my moment to moment awareness has increased and I’m able to process what is happening with less fear and anxiety than before.
These two small things have dramatically reduced the amount and severity of sleep paralysis episodes that I experience and hopefully can help others reduce their sleep paralysis. Have you ever experienced any kind of sleep paralysis? How do you handle these episodes?