People who get sleep paralysis for the first time get frightened and scared because they do not know what is happening. Sleep paralysis is common and is an episode that does not last for a long time. However, even people who get repeat episodes get the same feeling of fear and death. Meaning it is not a good experience for anyone no matter how short it might take. The inability to move your body, hallucinations, and panic that occurs while your sleep cycle transitions from a night of dream-filled REM sleep to being awake can affect your life. Being that it can affect you when falling asleep or when you are waking up both experiences are similar to one another.
Healthy people whether young or old experience this, and those with underlying sleep conditions as well meaning it has no bias. Your sleep environment too does not matter if you sleep in a comfortable bed with a Tempurpedic mattress, or a not so comfortable bed the sleep paralysis can still occur since it is not based on that. Most people say that they feel sounds and sights or a chest compression that won’t go away as they experience it. Yet, not all symptoms or hallucinations are the same and below are some different symptoms and hallucinations that occur during a sleep paralysis episode.
Sleep Paralysis Symptoms
Inability to speak
This is the main symptom among most people who experience sleep paralysis. Actually, if you have a partner they tend to think that you are ignoring them since your eyes are wide open yet you are quiet. Since sleep paralysis lasts for a few seconds or minutes this is a very helpless state to be in. Although sometimes there are soft sounds you can say they are not much of a groan, whisper or a grunt.
A feeling of being suffocated is witnessed when in this episode. Other people say that they feel or see someone compressing their chest or a heavy object to make them get out of breath. Being in this position makes people scared and feel as if they are going to die until the sleep paralysis incident wades off.
Level of consciousness
The level of consciousness varies with different people who experience sleep paralysis. Most people, however, claim they are conscious of their surroundings only that they cannot move. While others experience minimal conscious levels that are filled with a confusion of if they are dreaming or unable to wake up. At times the level of consciousness is superficial and people feel as if their spirit is ascending from their bodies and floating in midair as they look at it.
Classification of hallucinations
There are a number of hallucinations that occur during sleep paralysis. Despite the type of hallucinations all of them are horrific and makes a person be in a confused and desperate state. The hallucinations are vivid and are in four main categories and with recurrent sleep paralysis conditions, you will be able to experience all of them or just one repeatedly.
The first is tactile hallucinations that are common among most people who experience sleep hallucinations. They feel as if they are being touched yet no one is. It is scary since the tactile feel they get is not of a beautiful experience as of someone touching a beautiful painting. However, they feel as though someone or something they can’t explain is holding them down. It can also be a tactile emotion like uncontrolled smiling or crying, a feeling of being dragged out ruthlessly from the bed, rape, genitalia sensations all of which are spooky, to say the least. Claims of feeling a chill, bites, crawling things or numbness are some tactile forms of hallucinations.
The visual experience is the weightiest and many people fear to get a relapse of sleep paralysis due to this hallucination. Although none is good, the presence of people in visual hallucinations trying to harm you or looking creepy when you are unable to do anything is difficult to forget. This hallucination is one that has been explained in detail. People say they see a dark shadow or ghost of a human frame, standing next to their bed looking at them or just standing there. It can be one or many people surrounding the bed. Bright flashing lights are also part of this experience or different disembodied parts of the body that are floating around the room.
In this experience, the sounds that are heard differ but most people get a hard time remembering them. The voices are a common part of the sleep paralysis and most times it is from unfamiliar languages and things like a poorly signaled television set. Rapid footsteps, knocks at the door, distant laughter, or people whispering in the same room are a few of them. Being unable to move while experiencing this hallucination makes you panic. This hallucination, however, can be a repeated voice every time you have sleep paralysis to the most freakish experiences ever imagined.
This is a rare form of hallucination to those who experience sleep paralysis. But when it is experienced the smells are concentrated and at times choking. It can be the smell of gas, smoke, rotten smell among many others. In the case of a choking smell, most people feel as if they will die since they cannot move to have fresh air.
Given these points, sleep paralysis is a waking up nightmare that should not happen to anyone. Some people define it as a locked-in syndrome that brings out the emotions of anger and worry for not being able to do anything. It is important to seek the help of a sleep specialist especially if you have recurrent sleep paralysis occurrences. A change of poor lifestyle habits like smoking, taking alcohol, poor sleep patterns are also some factors that provoke the condition and having minimal stress and anxiety will help a lot in reducing the chances.