Friday, 21 December 2007

REM Sleep Paralysis

Have you ever experienced REM sleep paralysis?

Well, actually, you all have as it's a natural part of your sleep pattern so I suppose a better question is have you ever been aware of experiencing it? This particular sleep paralysis occurs when you are in the REM stage of sleep: the brain literally awakens internally during REM sleep. In a person with normal sleep behavior the REM sleep stage is one of near paralysis for the entire body other than the muscles of the eye and the middle ear. In this stage of sleep, you experience your most vivid dreams. The dreams that you are most likely to remember. And if you wake up, or, at least, think you wake up, you can't move.

It's happened to me several times now and each time is as scary as the last.

I remember the first time very vividly. It was a Sunday morning and Himself was going out early. I decided to have a lie-in and fell back to sleep. Next thing I am aware of is what I thought was Himself coming back in the room and lying on top of me, almost crushing me. But the bizarre thing was the feeling of complete and utter evil. Then the dawning realisation that I was awake, but I couldn't move. I remember screaming and then I woke up. Properly woke up. And I was on my own. Himself wasn't there at all. The feeling of dread I was left with was awful because you really do think you are awake and that your dream is real.

It happened once when Himself was lying in bed next to me awake and reading. He was apparently chortling to himself at the noises I was making in my sleep. To him it was gurgling and muttering. To me, paralysed and terrified in my REM dream because someone was trying to kill me, I was screaming at him to wake me up. When I did eventually wake up, I left him in doubt that if I were to ever start muttering in my sleep again, he was to wake me up and not leave me there whilst chuckling to himself.

But the strangest of these dreams happened to me last night. Again I thought I had woken up but this time I started to feel like I was having some sort of fit. My neck and shoulders were twitching like crazy......twitching isn't quite the right word but it's the closest I can find to describe the feeling. On top of that, I could feel and hear something rapidly gnawing at the side of my neck. I imagined it was some sort of gremlin but I couldn't move and I couldn't stop it and the only thought that was going through my head was that I was going to die. Yet one side of my brain was obviously awake and being rational and it kept telling me that I knew this was one of "those" dreams and that I had to wake myself up. Fortunately, the fingers of my left hand were resting on my right arm and through sheer determination I made my fingers pinch my skin to wake myself up.

Damn scary.

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