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 don't really want to wake up pummeling whoever happens to be around!). Or you're running or 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 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...