Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Night Terrors

Ever since I was a child, I have had night terrors, or what some refer to as sleep paralysis with hallucinations. These episodes cause me such anguish that they stay with me for days.

It begins with a presence in the room, usually a dark figure at the foot of the bed. Sometimes the figure is right beside me or standing over me. It feels like a malevolent spirit holding me down without actually touching me. I am unable to move or make a sound, although I struggle desperately to do so.

Around 4:30 this morning, the familiar being appeared in my bedroom doorway. I tried to scream and although I could hear the sound in my head, I somehow knew that no sound was coming out of my mouth. Sparky moved to the side of the bed closest to the door to block the intruder and I became fearful for Sparky. Then came persistent knocking sounds followed by scratching noises, like someone was taking a chisel to my walls. This caused unimaginable distress since I was literally paralyzed.

Finally, I was able to shake the paralysis and take in my surroundings. My bedroom door was closed and Sparky was sleeping soundly on the other side of the bed. I pulled him close, panting like I had just run a race. All day I will be wondering if a spirit from the other side was trying to tell me something, or if it was an evil being trying to suck out my soul. Lately, I have done some things which I am not really proud of and wonder if God is trying to tell me something. I am very sensitive to these kinds of things.

First thing this morning I started googling and found an interesting article on research that suggests geomagnetic activity could be responsible for sleep paralysis. Excerpt: Recent studies have shown that reports of Sleep Paralysis, and Sleep Paralysis legends are more common in geographical hotspots such as Mexico City and all through-out the Pacific Ring of Fire, even the Hawaiian Islands are crawling with legends of Choking Ghosts. What most of these Sleep Paralysis hot spots have in common is geophysical activity, volcanoes, fault lines and the like. Evidence is becoming more and more convincing that Sleep Paralysis and some other paranormal activity seems to coincide with the geophysical conditions of an area.
Well, we don't have any "hot spots" in Texas that I'm aware of, which leads me to think that the Wikipedia version might be a logical explanation: Physiologically, it is closely related to the paralysis that occurs as a natural part of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is known as REM atonia. Sleep paralysis occurs when the brain awakes from a REM state, but the bodily paralysis persists. This leaves the person fully conscious, but unable to move. In addition, the state may be accompanied by terrifying hallucinations (hypnopompic or hypnagogic) and an acute sense of danger. Sleep paralysis is particularly frightening to the individual due to the vividness of such hallucinations. The hallucinatory element to sleep paralysis makes it even more likely that someone will interpret the experience as a dream, since completely fanciful, or dream-like, objects may appear in the room alongside one's normal vision. Some scientists have proposed this condition as a theory for alien abductions and ghostly encounters.
I'd be interested in hearing other's thoughts and/or experiences. It really is quite terrifying.


Autumn said...

I've experienced something like that a few times, and it is indeed terrifying. The feeling of trying to claw yourself out of the nightmare, willing your body to move, is enough to induce panic in waking hours. I like the Wikipedia explanation since the alternatives are too scary.

Remember my roommate Lauren? She regularly felt an evil presence sitting on her chest or hovering over her, even things shaking her bed.

Autumn said...

Oh, and P.S. - I love that painting.