Monday, November 21, 2011

Sleep Paralysis

The effin weirdest thing just happened to me as I was taking a nap:

I was napping, and I had the lights on because I was supposed to be studying for a midterm I have tomorrow, and Frankie was curled up nicely next to me. The next thing I know, I am starting to wake up - except I'm not. I totally cannot move. I felt like I was 100% conscious, but I could not move as hard as I tried. And I tried hard. I was FIGHTING to wake myself up, I even remember trying to scream "help!" over and over, but all that came out was this weird airy whisper. It was freaky... and then as I started to be able to move, I "lifted" my head from under my covers and my room was totally dark (impossible because my lights ARE on) and I see this strange shadowy thing to my left - but ignore it because I'm just concerned about waking the eff up. And then I gave up trying and tried to go back to sleep, and low and behold - that was all I needed to do to wake up. I don't feel refreshed at all, my heart is still pounding, and I never want that to happen ever again.

So, I decided to google "what is it called when you try to wake up and cant" and decided what just happened to me is called "sleep paralysis" and is actually quite common. It happens to about half of the population at least once in their lives, so I don't have to worry that anything is wrong with me.

And like, I've seen inception.. sooo idk? That helps too.

But generally, the gist that I got from it is that you accidentally get into this awakened state during REM sleep, and even though you aren't awake - you feel awake, and you aren't dreaming anymore. But your brain keeps the dream state going. So you start fighting the brain to move and get up, but you are paralyzed. They hypothesize this is so you don't sleep walk or act out the dream you are having.

The reason the whole "dark shadowy figure" didn't freak me out is because I believe HARD in the magic of the brain, and in science - and I saw this video by Michael Shermer (skeptic extraordinaire) about a year ago, and knew in the back of my mind that the brain is responsible for making you feel and see ghostly spirits. And because I was feeling awake, I was like okay yeah, clearly my brain is doing something weird.

But this whole "ghostly encounter" is quite normal. Most people experience it as part of sleep paralysis. They literally feel held down. I know I felt that, and that could explain why I couldnt even yell out. But it is, like Michael Shermer said, your brain acting out some crazy stuff - and because you are in dream state still, it feels really real.

Anyway, I don't really have much more to say... Just thought I would share my experience. If you have stories about this, post them here! I am very curious!

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