Have You Experienced Sleep Paralysis While Awake?

Have You Experienced Sleep Paralysis While Awake?

Waking sleeping paralysis is a condition in which a person physically awakes from their slumber, but is unable to speak or move as if paralyzed yet fully aware of what is happening around them. Some sleep paralysis symptoms are decreased respiration or a feeling of being suffocated, and the inability to move the eyes’ position. Other sufferers have reported hearing noises or footsteps during waking sleep paralysis, or even the feeling of another person, or eerie shadows forming in the room during these episodes. These episodes easily and understandably invoke terror and panic while they are occurring, especially for first time sufferers.

Waking Sleep Paralysis – The Brain’s Involvement
Although some consider these episodes to be related to the ghostly underground they are medically proven to be the result of crossed transmissions of neurological signals. Simply put, if you have experienced sleep paralysis while awake, your cognizance has beaten your brain’s muscle contraction signal to the body.

The human brain controls your movement during sleep to keep you in a relaxed state. It also keeps you from physically role playing your dreams or displaying any physical reactions to them. For instance, if you are dreaming about a scenario where you must protect yourself, the brain keeps you from physically punching, kicking or wresting around while you sleep. This defense mechanism keeps you and anyone else in the bedroom safe while you sleep.

In some cases, individuals who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder may lose this neurological ability, rendering their brain incapable of controlling their bodies during sleep.

Waking Sleep Paralysis – Medical Contributors
Experiencing sleep paralysis while awake is a common symptom of narcolepsy patients. Unfortunately some of these episodes can take on hallucinogenic forms for the several seconds, minutes or even hours when the sufferer is experiencing waking sleep paralysis. These hallucinations can include, but are not limited to, hearing loud noises, seeing floating objects, and vivid dream recreation.

Any form of waking sleep paralysis should be discussed directly with a physician to determine if there is an underlying cause, such as narcolepsy or cataplexy, both of which can be treated, but ultimately not cured. If an individual is experiencing sleep paralysis while awake directly as a result of narcolepsy, there are several ways to counter the episodes when they happen.

Waking Sleep Paralysis – Coping Mechanisms
The first tip in dealing with waking sleep paralysis is to be cognizant of the situation. Certainly, the first time you experience such a frightening happening, panic will take over. It is important not to fight the circumstance or it will increase the feeling of being trapped or suffocated. Try to relax, and wait out the occurrence by assuring yourself that it is okay. You are not in danger, and the entire episode is the result of sleep paralysis while awake. If it helps to distinguish why it will be okay, such as focusing on a religious or spiritual belief, or thinking of a loved one who is important to you getting through this few minutes of paralysis and back to normalcy, it is okay to do so.

To physically counter a waking sleep paralysis episode, try to move your fingers or toes, or rub the sheet or blanket that is under your hand. This association will allow the brain to understand that you are awake, and moving around. It also helps you to access some form of control over the paralysis. More importantly, focus on your ability to breathe. The body’s respiratory system operates separately from the muscles and brain and will continue to operate as usual, but may become panicked because of the occurrence. The normal reaction is to breathe heavily or quickly. Focus on breathing normally, in and out, to induce a sense of control of the situation. If all else fails, try to contort your face by squinting, smiling or simply moving it about, as it will help bounce you out of waking sleep paralysis quicker than waiting for it to end on its own. This is especially helpful if your episodes are minutes long, instead of seconds.

Waking Sleep Paralysis – Support Systems
Depending on your interpretation of the paralysis, ask your partner to help you. If you share a bed with another person, explain your situation to them, and ask for a quick shake when you are experiencing waking sleep paralysis. Some individuals prefer the lucidity of the dream-like state to being awaken, which makes the choice a personal one.

A lot of people ask: is sleep paralysis dangerous? And the answer is no but if you suffer from waking sleep paralysis, ask your physician for ways to counter the episodes, outside of creating a plan of attack from home. In addition, look into support groups or online forums on the subject to connect with other sufferers. They may provide advice you have yet to hear from a doctor, so do not be afraid to reach out and share your experiences. It is important to remember that panicking when experiencing sleep paralysis while awake will only exacerbate the feeling of intensity and the duration of the event. Remain calm, and coach yourself out of the occurrence, lessening its ability to alarm you, and shortening the time it envelopes you.

Matthew Proctor is the founding editor of Sleeping Resources. Both him and his team of writers discuss sleep related issues like sleep disorders, bedroom gadgets, and good sleep hygiene tips.

Posted by David Buchanan
22nd January 2021

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