11 Jul

Hypnagogia

Sleep is another of my armchair interests. I saw an interesting documentary last night about night terrors, and with Rich discussing dreams on his blog, it reminded me about my own odd sleep condition; sleep paralysis.

I did some research on it a couple years ago but never turned up that much information (imagine that, a time when the internet didn’t know everything). I had a look about today, and there is a lot more about it available. I suffer, a term I use loosely, from sleep paralysis, or more precisely Hypnagogia with sleep paralysis, and have done for about 5 years now and with a frequency of about once every week to a fortnight. Apparently it’s common (around 25% of people experience sleep paralysis either in this form, or the more common hypnopompic state which instead occurs when waking). It’s almost the opposite of sleep walking, in that rather than the brain switching off and the body carrying on it’s activities, sleep paralysis feels like the body has switched off and the brain is still awake.

It’s pretty weird at first, because if you don’t realise you’re asleep (like I didn’t the first few times) you’re convinced you’re paralysed and therefore not doing too well. Because I’m aware of the experience, I’m able to lucid dream once I’ve grabbed back a bit of control and moved past the anxiety. I’ve experienced a lot of the recorded strange sensations though, from thinking I’ve got up and done things as normal, being convinced I’m going to die (”the fear”, which is unavoidable but fightable), feeling like I’m moving (sliding, spinning or falling) and imagining people (including “the intruder”). Napping in the afternoon sun on my back, which I don’t get to do much anymore, is the most reliable trigger for it, for me.

Sleep is a funny thing.