Around the time I was fifteen this strange thing started to happen to me.

I would come home from school and fall asleep watching television. That’s not the weird thing. The weird thing was… I would get “stuck”.

Let me explain
Sorry, but this pic nails it.

I would wake up, but my body would still be in sleep mode. I would literally be paralyzed. Stuck in my own head. I couldn’t open my eyes, talk, or move a single part of my body.

Even better, it would cause the false feeling of someone or something standing very near to you, watching me. I would fight to get my body to wake up, but it was a struggle to even get my eyes opened.
It’s a strange feeling and drove me nuts for a long time. Then I started to figure out why it happened. Aliens.

Yes… it was aliens.

Seriously though….
I realized it would most often happen during afternoon naps, when the TV volume was up a bit too loud. The sounds would sneak into my dreams, causing me to wake up. Or at least wake up mentally. The body… not so much.

Then one day, while on the interwebs, I discovered the answer!

Known in scientific circles as “Sleep Paralysis”, there are documented cases going back to ancient times. Called by such ‘Scientific Names’ as:

“The Old Hag”
“The Witch Riding Your Back”
“Bound or Fastened in Metal,”

Or my favorite: “Crushing Demon”. Creeeeeepy.
Basically, when you fall asleep, your brain has to shut down your body to stop itself from acting out during dreams. Smart idea. You can’t be acting out your dreams while sleeping. It would cause a lot of problems.

For Instance: When I’m running from a pack of dragons with a treasure chest on my back (Lord knows we’ve all had that dream. Right. Right?) probably good that I’m not acting that out in bed. Might get a few bruises as I leap off a cliffs edge onto my waiting pirate ship far below.

Sleep Paralysis is when the BRAIN forgets to wake up the BODY. So, as I would snap out of a dream, my brain would remain in sleep mode.

MY BRAIN: “Oh wait, you want to wake up? No, this is a cool dream. Not yet. I’m enjoying this damn it!”
MY BODY: “But I got work! I got to get up!”

MY BRAIN: “Meh.”

Eventually I learned the trick to snapping out of it – It boiled it down to two things:

1. Do my best to move. Wiggle. Call out. Shake my head. All are difficult to do. But eventually it would get my brain to play along.

2. Just go back to sleep.  (Though this is difficult since I can’t roll over or move.)

It doesn’t happen much anymore. Maybe once or twice a year. When it does, I just let it go. It’s interesting to see where my brain will take me. Some claim those who get Sleep Paralysis have a better chance of experience Lucid Dreams. So I got that going for me!
I like dragon flies.

That is – unless a fly lands on me. Then it totally sucks.

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8 thoughts on “Sleep Paralysis (Help I’m Stuck!)”

  1. Def scary when it was happening a lot. I hated that feeling of being stuck. I can't imagine it happening while in college though. Damn… your roommates could have really screwed with you if they wanted. Ha!

  2. I've had this twice, but my eyes have been open (I think) both times. True terror. What really fucks with me now though is that after researching it online (after having the experiences) I discovered that many people see the black robed figure I saw the first time, and the malevolent, unknowable sphere that scared me nearly to death the second time is pretty similar to some of the entities from Lovecraft's universe (I also didn't discover Lovecraft until a few years later so was very drawn to his work having had those experiences!). Such an interesting phenomenon, I've heard it said since and have to agree: 'you don't know true terror 'til you've had sleep paralysis'

  3. The first few times it happened to me there was a feeling of something in the room. Some figure standing over me. But my eyes were never opened! That's real scary! Seems like you had the same experience Lovecraft had. I wonder if his sleep paralysis helped him to write the stuff he did? Kind of an interesting thought.

    And I agree – you don't know terror until you've had it. Especially the first few time you get it. Creeeeeepy.

  4. I have just been reading about that actually, apparently he took a lot of inspiration from what he knew as his night terrors, often writing whole stories from his dreams! Amazing stuff whatever the explanation. Also just read an interview with an author called Matt Cardin about how his writing is influenced by his sleep paralysis (

    I haven't had it now in 3-4 years and I'm almost starting hope I will again now! You still have it? Do you feel a presence every time? I find it so interesting talking to people about it, people who've never had it love hearing about it and I love hearing from people who have had it but written it off as a one off nightmare!

  5. I don't get it anymore – but I think it's because I figured out what triggered it. Seemed like falling asleep in afternoons with the tv on loud or being overly tired and passing out quick did it for me. Though I know what you mean. Wish I could trigger it when I wanted. I only a few times had that weird presence feeling. All the other times were usually just filled with me being pissed that I couldn't move. LOL.

    I have a friend you said he read that people who get sleep paralysis have a much easier time having lucid dreams. Now that something that would be pretty awesome.

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