Friday, February 01, 2008

Paralyzing Dreams

This week's interpretation is a bit different than others I've posted...

Candie writes:

i was wondering .. what does it mean when u have a dream .. ur mind is awake but ur body is asleep already .. and u feel paralyzed and u have to force urself to shake urself so that u can wake up and breathe again?

Feeling like your body is asleep when you are awake tends to happen when you're just dropping off to sleep and "panic" awake, or if you'd dropped off into a light REM without realizing it and waken suddenly. There are some varied schools of thought on this phenomenon, both mundane "scientific" explanation and some cultural/mystical ones.

First, the scientific. Sleep paralysis is felt to be a protective mechanism by which your subconscious is preventing you from taking physical action on things you may experience in a dream sequence (such as, you dream you're fighting someone...you don't really want to wake up pummeling whoever happens to be around!). Or you're running or flying...you get the picture. In otherwards, this mild paralysis is to keep you where you belong, in your bed and (more or less) motionless.

Some more intriguing, metaphysical explanations exist as well. Some cultures say that this inability to move (some report it as a heavy feeling on the chest, often accompanied by a sense of doom or threat) is the result of an invisible force holding you to the bed while it feeds on you...like the half-man, half-beast description of the Incubus. Something similar is called the Old Hag in other cultures, and is mentioned in Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet). People plagued by such things may report feeling like something is biting or choking them as well.

In either case, it's noted that sleep paralysis is more common in people who sleep on their backs. Maybe you can try curling up on your side, to discourage those nighttime beasties (or disruption of REM sleep by your nervous system) so that you can have a better night's sleep.

I hope you've found this helpful. Anyone else dream of beasties or things that bump in the night? Have a dream that you wonder about? Write to me and I'll post an interpretion here. Until then...may all your dreams be pleasant...

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

im a 25 year old female im also a nurse at a local doctors office in the town i live in have had these "paralyzing dreams" since i was 12 i dont realy know what causes them but i do know that lsat nights dream was the worst one i had ever had i actualy seen the face of a small child like a drawn picture and it was very strange i have also noticed if my husbands arms are a round me i dont not have these paralyzing dreams sometime i will have up to three a night

Anonymous said...

i am 64 and just able to free myself from this bad dream. i saw it coming to me because i left my medicine for enxiety at home and no way to replace it here in Japan. i am from another place just visiting my grandaughter who is staying with his father for the summer before college. i'm a man by the way and here together with my wife and daughter. this happens to me before several times
and lucky to be able to wake-up like just an hour ago. it tried to catch me about 4 times and i was able to free myself by waking up soon. the fifth time it caught me good and scary that i was screaming to my wife for help to no avail. finally after a long fight for my life... here i am telling you my story. i will try to sit it up till sunrise and hope to see another day. Japan time now is 4:15 am.

Lisa Logan said...

anxiety attacks are NO fun whatsoever, I'm a former sufferer who rarely has any panics anymore despite no medication.

At the first sign of an impending attack (you tend to get a funny feeling when one's about to hit), I drink warm milk for the L-tryptophan boost, then remind myself that I'm in control and the feeling of impending death is just an excess surge of adrenaline my body dumped into my bloodstream at the wrong time for a nonexistend fight or flight situation. Works like a charm.

Hope this helps others who find themselves in one of these moments without the benefit of medication.

jackie said...

I have these "paralyzing dreams" about 3-5 times a month and they are UNBEARABLE! My name is Jackie and I am 17 by the way. So in my dreams, it is like I can either see from the point of view of myself, (as if I had awaken exactly where I fell asleep and opened my eyes) but I can't move or speak. But other times its like I am watching myself sleep, (again, in the exact spot that I fell asleep in) and yet I feel like the sleeping Jackie that I am watching and again I can't wake. I always know that I am sleeping and alwys try as hard as possible to wake up, but I can't move a toe, make the slighest noise, or even open my eyes. Somethimes there is someone "in" my dream room and they either want to, or start to harm me and I can't wake up and its like I can feel everything they are doing to me, which can be very excrutiating. When I finally wake up, (after what seems like hours) my muscles are tense and I feel so tired, my body tries to immediately dose back to sleep, but I know if I do that, I fall right back in. It is the worst experience and yet it keeps reoccuring...Am I the only one?

Lisa Logan said...

Do you sleep on your back? Like my blog mentions, studies show people who have a lot of these tend to sleep on their backs. It is recommended that you alter your sleeping position to see if that helps. And no, you're certainly not alone!