Hello and welcome to this instalment of my "sleep phenomenas" series. In this post I will be discussing the captivating experience of sleep paralysis.
The sleep phenomenom I am going to discuss in this post is sleep paralysis. This is an (often terrifying) experience whereby the self is in a state of consciousness yet unable to move or speak. This occurs during falling asleep or waking up, and can be explained by the brain waking up whilst the physical body remains in an atonic state (a state where the body's motor functions are relaxed to prevent sleepers from acting out their dreams). It is most likely to happen to young adults, especially those who suffer from sleep deprivation, stress/mental health disorders, or interestingly those who sleep on their back (this last one has definitely given me some experiences!)
Sleep paralysis is often accompanied by hallucinations; typically demonic, with people frequently reporting sensing or "seeing" a harmful presence in the room, such as a tall dark figure.
I personally have experienced sleep paralysis on numerous occasions, with hallucinations every single time. On the first occasion, whilst falling asleep I heard my wardrobe door opening. I ignored this, passing it off as a breeze, until a very ghost-like figure climbed from the wardrobe and stood at the end of my bed. I recall trying to scream for my dad (at this point I believed it to be a genuine person OR a ghost), which is when I realised I physically could not communicate - I tried running from my bed, however was paralysed.. After a short while I believed my dad had been into my room to comfort me - it wasn't until I saw "myself" standing at the end of my bed telling me that "this isn't over yet" that I realised the paralysis was still happening. I then believed I had finally managed to open my eyes and that I had woken up - until yet another hallucination of "myself" was in front of me warning me that it still wasn't over despite the original hallucination telling me it was. By the end of the paralysis I had seen a ghostly figure and about five or six figures stood next to each other that were identical to myself. This felt like it had lasted for ages, whilst in reality it had been only 10 minutes since I had attempted to fall asleep.
It's not all scary...
Despite the denomic stigma attached to sleep paralysis hallucinations, there has been reports of comforting or enjoyable experiences. These include hallucinations of a couple of cheery men with guitars serenading the sleeper, playing music that the individual described as pure joy. When the individual began to wake up, the singing men said "she is waking, it is time to go" and left them in a state of peace and serenity. I have also hallucinated Finn Balor's "Demon King" purely from speaking to my WWE-loving boyfriend; whilst this was vaguely in keeping with the demon theme, it was rather amusing knowing who "it" actutally was...you can certainly get some good stories to tell your friends!
For me personally, I am very easily able to explain my experiences. My first experience happened very close to moving up to university; my stress levels had obviously increased, and I was lacking sleep. I also had a stage of frequent sleep paralysis around the time of my exams - again, increased stress and decreased sleep. If you do ever experience it, please remember that it will only last a short period of time: it is harmless...and you probably just need a little more sleep!
Thank you so much for reading - please do feel free to leave any comments so we can discuss your thoughts and experiences below! This is one of the first posts of a mini series of sleep phenomenas: the next instalment will be discussing the eery phenomenon of "Night Terrors". In the mean time, if you would like to read my post about "Dream Symbolism and Recurring Dreams" please click the link below.
Hello and welcome to the first instalment of my "sleep phenomenas" series. In this post I will be discussing dream symbolism and recurring dreams.
Whilst the extent I believe that dreams have logical meaning is questionable, I cannot deny my huge interest in dream symbolism. This inspired me to put together a mini "dream bible" discussing some popular dreams symbols experienced by people all over the world, and how these dreams may relate to or explain some feelings in your waking life. I would love it if you commented or contacted me with any other dreams/symbols that you would like to understand more about - I have so much information that I would love to discuss with you guys. I hope you enjoy learning about the following examples of popular dream symbols:
1) Forgetting to prepare for an exam/presentation
Despite school days being left behind, many adults frequently experience dreams of forgetting to study for a test or failing an examination. This can be extremely anxiety inducing, which may feel unusual when examinations are completely irrelevant to your waking life. In actuality, this dream is a symbolic reminder that we may be living our lives in a constant state of self examination. It may be a subconscious alarm that you are being particularly critical on yourself at this time in your life, encouraging you to take a step back from endless self-examination and appreciate yourself for your present talents and achievements.
2) Cheating (on your partner & by your partner)
To dream that you are cheating on your partner, or that they are cheating on you, is frequently experienced by people all over the world. However, it is NOT an indication of cheating in waking life! To dream that you are cheating on your partner reflects self-betrayal; you may feel "cheated" in a situation where you compromised your beliefs or did not show the real you. Cheating dreams can also be nothing more than an exploration of your sexuality and passion. To dream that your partner is cheating on you reflects a fear of abandonment or a lack of self esteem; not necessarily within your relationship, but in any waking situation.
To dream that you are falling is another very popular dream symbol. I decided to discuss this symbol as last night I experienced a very vivid falling dream; in the dream I felt my ears popping from the pressure changes as I fell from an extreme height, and today my ears are actually very difficult to "unpop" - interesting! This dream can mean a number of things. You may be feeling overwhelmed and anxious in your waking life, or perhaps feeling worried about failing something. However, this dream can also have positive connotations; depending on how you felt during the fall, it may be a reminder for you to "let go" - a symbol of relief. Falling from great heights can represent a good period to start something new, and that you may be praised and promoted in your waking life (I have had a weekend of something very new and that I feel I was praised for, which fascinates me considering my dream experience last night.)
It is also common for people to experience recurring dreams; between 60-75% of adults experience recurring dreams, women more than men. Interestingly, most recurring dreams are shared universally. They are said to be like "scripts" in the mind and reflect an unresolved issue within your waking life. This issue may not be directly represented by your dream, and it may be worth looking into the symbolism further. For example:
I recently had a reader explain their experience with recurring labour/pregnancy dreams - this is infact one of the most popular recurring dreams around the world. If your recurring dream focuses on labour, it is an awareness that your current goals are very achievable but will require hard work to accomplish. This may explain why so many young adults experience this dream when going through transitional life periods such as working on university projects or starting new jobs. It is a positive dream, acting as a reminder that you are capable and to stay on top of things. To see an actual baby (or perhaps a baby animal) in your labour dream is a gentle reminder to look after yourself too. It is hinting that you wish to be nurtured a little more, so to care for yourself whilst you work for your goals. If your dream focuses on experiencing pregnancy as a whole, it is simply to say an aspect of yourself or life is developing; for this to be a recurring dream it may suggest you are growing as a person quite significantly.
I personally experienced a recurring dream every single night during the summer holidays when I left primary school, whereby I would always see or hear the same lady jumping off a bridge and dying. Whilst this was traumatic, it was simply my mind reflecting my fears of the "jump" between primary school and secondary school, as this dream ended when I began secondary school and realised it was a positive place. Interestingly, in my summer between leaving school and starting university, I experienced a very similar recurring dream where a young girl would tap my arm for help before also jumping to her death. This again was reflective of my fears of the "jump", and the young girl was a representation of my inner young self's anxieties about "growing up".
These are just some examples of dream meanings and recurring dreams that will always be open to interpretation. If you have anything at all that you would like to learn more about or to discuss further, please get in touch as I would love to talk about these with you - it fascinates me to no end.
Thank you so much for reading - please do feel free to leave any comments so we can discuss your thoughts and experiences below! This is one of the first posts of a mini series of sleep phenomenas: the next instalment will be discussing the eery phenomenon of "Night Terrors". In the meantime, if you would like to read my post about "Sleep Paralysis" please click the link below.