|The Nightmare by Fuseli|
Many cultures have been fascinated by sleep paralysis through the ages. It's been explained as possessions, an attack from incubi or succubi, a visit from a restless spirit, witches, and anything in between. Still today, people associate it with the paranormal, and it is easy to see why. If you haven't experienced this, try to imagine. You're in bed, and you are falling asleep. You hear a buzzing noise that gets unbearably loud, when you start to feel extreme panic. You see a dark figure standing over you, and you can't escape. You can't move, and you can't even talk. You just have to wait until this terror wears off, and you wake up breathless and in a sweat. That's what it's like.
I remember the first time I had sleep paralysis. I was falling asleep on a little leather sofa in my boyfriend's basement while he went upstairs to get us some hot tea. I thought I could hear his mother and sister arguing as I nodded off. The 'arguing' got progressively louder until it was hard to handle. What I thought was arguing turned into laughter. It sounded as if hundreds of people were laughing in my ear. I started to panic and open my eyes a little bit. This laughter sounded demented. It scared me so much, that I think I even woke up in tears. The next time it happened was in the same spot. Instead of laughter, I was just opening my eyes. I felt a presence in the room, and I thought I was seeing shadows. It was quite a bit less terrifying. Besides my first experience, there was the most recent one that was by far the most terrifying.
I fell asleep, and I remember looking at the end of my bed. I was already panicky, because I knew something was coming. Out of the shadows came this tall pitch black male figure (which reminded me of a real-life experience). I remember this feeling of dread. What surprised me most was that this sleep hallucination spoke to me. It asked me to make sacrifices to it, and I said a definite no. It said it would kill me if I refused, but I still said no. I remember feeling this horrible choking sensation after that. I swung my head back and forth, unable to breathe. Finally, I woke up. I know how traumatic it can be, but there are ways of dealing with it. It has been quite a while since I have had a similar experience. I noticed that I only get this sleep paralysis when I sleep on my back. Since that last experience, I have been sleeping on my side, and my sleep has been normal. It really does work. You don't have to bottle up your sleep paralysis experiences. It helps my nerves to vent to someone about it. If you're a creative person, sleep paralysis doesn't have to be such a bad thing. Use your experiences as inspiration for art, poetry, songs, stories, etc. Here's a link to the Web MD article.
Above is a music video inspired by sleep paralysis. It's really beautiful in a haunting sort of way.