Waking from a nightmare into sleep paralysis

bellbird

Sponsor
Has anyone else experienced this?
I did last night, for the first time in my life, and it was terrifying to say the least.

I had a nightmare about a guy trying to get into the house, and then when I woke it was like my mind was awake but my body was frozen completely still.
I was trying to breathe and call out the name of the person who was sleeping in bed next to me to get their help, but I couldn't do either for a good few seconds.

Bleurgh.
 

shimmerz

MyPTSD Pro
I experienced this all the time and yes, terrifying. Not even sure if that word covers it. And of course, the more terrified I was, the longer I was stuck in paralysis.

I learned (for myself) along the way to focus on moving only the top digit of my little finger. I needed to really focus on calming my racing head down and put all I had into that baby finger and once it was released and able to move the rest of my body instantly freed up.

This frozen state thing really is scary as fcuk.
 

Sideways

Sponsor
I experience this occasionally. Now that I know what's happening as it's happening? It's far less distressing for me personally.

I talk myself through it. Last episode I woke to a giant black cat sitting on my chest and I couldn't move or breathe. Talking myself through what was happening helps me immensely.

In my mind, my first time words to myself were "Hello sleep paralysis!" - not to minimise the experience, but to dump a boatload of reality on the experience. I know what this is and it's short-lived and I reminded myself of that in the moment. There is no giant black cat in my room - this is sleep paralysis.

Sleep paralysis is now just one of those irksome things I experience from time to time. A short period of very high distress which I can label, understand, and know for absolute certain it will pass of its own accord.
 

EveHarrington

MyPTSD Pro
Yes, it’s happened to me, and it’s pretty damn hellish. Thank GOD I don’t experience sleep paralysis anymore. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. Do you know what could have triggered it? I’ve been through a bit of processing and healing, so I think this contributed to these episodes stopping. 🤗
 

Mach123

MyPTSD Pro
Yes I love this, I’ve practiced lucid dreaming with limited success since I was a teenager. It’s been scary at times too. It’s the in between state and they try and cultivate it. My dreaming activity has increased a lot recently, I just realize when I can’t move that it’ll go away soon. Of course it’s much worse if it’s from a scary or uncomfortable dream. I’ve woken up yelling from dreams like you described.
 

Elsewhere

Learning
Something I’m just realizing: The few times I’ve experienced sleep paralysis occurred while sleeping on my back. I’m typically a side sleeper, so this seems noteworthy—especially since the illusion of being pinned down and suffocated by something bearing down on my chest makes most sense if I’m on my back

I’m wondering if there’s something to it (i.e., if certain sleep positions are more conducive—higher risk—than others). Not to say I have much control over what I do with my body while sleeping, but still, I’m curious now
 
Has anyone else experienced this?
I did last night, for the first time in my life, and it was terrifying to say the least.

I had a nightmare about a guy trying to get into the house, and then when I woke it was like my mind was awake but my body was frozen completely still.
I was trying to breathe and call out the name of the person who was sleeping in bed next to me to get their help, but I couldn't do either for a good few seconds.

Bleurgh.
@bellbird I suspect you're describing a sleep-paralysis experience.

Yes I've also had sleep-paralysis that seemed to begin with a very negative thought or frightening emotion while either drifting off to sleep or waking from sleep.

My sudden intense fear, the feeling of a weight or pressure upon my chest, also, a humming sound within my head and a very unpleasant tingling sensation slowly drifting down from my head and throughout my arms and legs with an entire body paralysis. I once observed my mother during her sleep-paralysis where she wasn't even blinking her opened eyes. I'm guessing that these experiences last about 10 seconds before diminishing. Yes, I can relate!

Sometimes, I'd noticed that when I'd do nothing, the paralysis would immediately begin to recycle all over again. It have to do with a malfunctioning or glitch during the sleep state. When I'd noticed it happening to me, I could pull myself out of it during its weakest point. It was then that I'd attempt to vocalize a sound. @shimmerz -- I would suspect that to focus one's attention on moving one's finger would have the same effect.

The 'black cat on the chest' experience -- @Sideways I can vividly recall having this experience once during sleep-paralysis! Yet for me this was an ugly black mangey cat of average size, standing on its hind-legs on my chest while pounding its fist like hands on my sternum. I think this sort of explained the weight/ pressure and pounding of my heart that I was experiencing at that time. And when I tried to knock this imagery cat from my chest I then realized that my body was entirely paralyzed. Sleep-paralysis seemed to always occur when I was on my back also @Elsewhere, while in bed during a lucid dream state. I'm also a side-sleeper having felt safer and less vulnerable on my side.

I wasn't aware of being unable to breathe and yet, when trying to vocalize a sound I was aware of being unable to inhale. This was all very frightening!
My awareness of having sleep-paralysis first began during my early teens yet seemed to have entirely stopped by my early 20s. I wonder if the Valium I began taking during my early 20s had anything to do with its subsidence. During my early 20s, I also stopped taking amphetamine which I'd taken continuously from age 16 to age 20. Yet I wasn't on any drugs when my sleep-paralysis first began. Sleep-paralysis runs in my family -- my mother, two sisters and grandfather did have it throughout their entire adulthood.
 

Friday

Moderator
Once upon a time I learned to do this as a survival thing... to come awake & aware with absolutely no sign that I had done so. My breathing stayed the same, my heart rate the same, the little movements and sounds one makes in sleep the same... the only difference between my sleeping and waking self was that I was fully & completely awake & aware of everything going on around me whilst to all appearances still being deeply asleep.

Ah the joys of being held prisoner. So many useful life skills <rolleyes>

It’s actually far more common for me to wake this way from a nightmare than to be screaming in my sleep or waking bolt upright -or halfway across the room- or drenched in swear (or sweat ;) when I’m in any kind of actual danger. Like someone breaking into my house. Or perceived danger. Like the cat missing his jump and landing on my head, or a raccoon slidin down the tree next to me.

The trick? Is a swift assessment of my environment.

- If it’s all clear? I tend to ‘wake up’ (physically) in much the normal sort of way. IE slowly. Somewhat discombobulated. Stretching needed. Grip weak. Vision a bit wonky. Likely to bump into furniture and be propping the wall up as I careen towards the loo.

- If there’s actual danger, then there’s not a lot of thought between decision and action. All signs of being dead asleep one moment, to full on action the next.

((For example, the last time I woke up with someone breaking into my house/room I didn’t have to pretend to be asleep or fight to stay still as he walked closed and leaned over me. I was completely aware he was doing so. And then I hit him with my maglite. Which had been behind the head of my bed. The motion as I grabbed it and then reversed to hit him allowed him to almost stand up straight, but not jump back. So I crunched his ribs, rather than splitting open his head. Adrenaline? Applies an awful lot of speed. >>> There have been other times I’ve woken up still in sleep paralysis and realized what woke me was the sound of my son’s breathing. Next thing I know? I’m halfway across the room, with no memory of how I got there... and my husband saying I looked like a cat defying gravity to simply LEAP straight up into the air. As of the bed had been a catapult.))

***

If I don’t assess my environment? I can stay that way, almost indefinitely. Which, especially on bad pain days, I tend to sort of revel in. Sadly, I can’t call this up at will... it takes something waking me up & ringing my alarms... and my knee jerk is to immediately assess what’s going on around me. It’s rare that I can stop myself from doing so, but blessed relief when I can.

But it takes a certain amount of adrenaline to wake up that way, and then either totally relaxing/lowering those levels, or spiking them into immediate threat to life. So I’ve got a LITTLE wiggle room as I calm down after assessing nothing amis... if I can freak myself for any reason? Even just briefly? I can float along almost pain free for up to an hour or three.
 
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