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02/25/2005: "REM Paralysis"
Ever since I was little I've suffered from terrible nightmares and something worse than nightmares...the experience of waking up, being conscious, and not being able to move. It was different all the time, sometimes I could sense an evil presence in the room, sometimes it felt like someone was sitting on top of me, sometimes I felt like I was being lifted towards the ceiling. The experiences were very real to me because they happened when I was awake!
My family was extremely religious and demons and sprits were real to us; when this happened, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was some kind of evil spirit attacking me. I was afraid to fall asleep, that's when I first starting suffering from insomnia. It had a huge impact on my life even in college, if this happened I would have to sleep (in the same room) with one of my roommates because I was so afraid to be left alone.
Well, last night I watched Peter Jennings’s special "Seeing is Believing" where they interviewed alien abductees and then doctors who talked about REM paralysis. I knew that we become paralyzed when we're in REM sleep, so we don't try to act out our dreams, but I didn't know that there is a common phenomenon associated with it. The following excerpt is from Better Sleep Now (dreamdoctor.com) a specialist's response to a woman who had similar experiences as mine whenever her husband went out of town on business:
"The lighter sleep that you experience when your husband is away (you do not sleep as deep, and sleep with “one ear open”), is causing you to occasionally feel this paralysis of your body during REM. Other common sensations during REM paralysis are pressure in the chest area, feelings that you are being held down or pushed into the bed, difficulty breathing or calling for help, and also feelings that you are elevating or levitating off the bed.
The cure for “REM Paralysis” dreams is knowledge."
I can't even begin to explain how liberated I feel at this moment. I only wish that someone had told me about this sooner.