To get out of sleep paralysis, you need to know what it is first.
Imagine that you are starting to doze off to sleep, but all of a sudden, you feel a sense of doom taking over. You can’t move any part of your body because it seems paralyzed.
You know you are awake, but your muscles refuse to obey your command. Maybe you even open your eyes, sometimes you can see everything in your room, other times you see scary shadows.
Sleep paralysis is a momentary loss of muscle movement, yet you are still alert to what is happening around you. It can last anywhere from 10 seconds to a few minutes.
Fear plays a huge role here. When we start fearing something, it starts to take control. As soon as the fear is overcome the control is lost. I lived in fear of this for 20 years, until I finally learned what it was.
This sleep disorder no longer has a hold on me!
This sleep condition affects at least 62% of the population, myself included.
I remember the first time I experienced sleep paralysis; I was five years old. It was the scariest thing which had ever happened to me. At that time, no one understood this phenomenon; most people thought it was demons out to get us.
But now that I know better, I have to say I still haven’t able to shake it, but I do know how to deal with it without being paralyzed with fear.
Sleep paralysis takes place when going into or coming out of REM sleep cycle. It’s during this stage when we dream; our brain paralyzes our muscles so that we do not act out our dreams.
One thing to keep in mind is that it is preventable and will not harm you.
What Causes Sleep Paralysis
- Stress/Anxiety – people who have PTSD usually show a significantly higher rate of sleep paralysis. When we’re anxious or stressed out, our body doesn’t exactly react to our environment the way it should. Sometimes our mind starts to act out – this leads to sleep paralysis.
- Lack of sleep – whenever I suffer from lack of sleep, which sometimes happens due to chemotherapy, I notice that sleep paralysis starts to happen quite quickly. Sleep paralysis happens because our brain becomes sleep deprived. This causes the neurons to fire off in unknown ways; the firing of these neurons leads to frozen muscles.
- Sleeping on Your Back – when we sleep on our back, this can cause breathing issues, which can lead to stress for our brain, which then leads to sleep paralysis.
- Narcolepsy – Narcolepsy is when people experience hallucinations which are very vivid and usually happen as they are falling asleep. During episodes, these visions can seem real, but because we are in a state of fear or stress, it leads to experiencing sleep problems.
- Use of medications – some medications can cause havoc with our brain chemicals. When we are falling asleep at night, if our chemicals are not balanced our brain once again fires off misinterpreted neurons, this then leads to an episode of paralyzed muscles during sleep.
Symptoms Of An Oncoming Sleep Paralysis Episode
- Buzzing in ears
- Exploding head syndrome
- Body vibrations
- Loud ringing in ears
- Rushing wind noise
- Pounding in the head
How You Can Prevent Sleep Paralysis From Taking Place
Splash Your Face With Cold Water
This method works really for me. When I know that I’m overly tired or stressed out, I splash my face with cold water before going to bed.
I dry my face lightly with a towel. I leave a few droplets of water running down my face. You will have to get used to this method for it to work.
When sleep paralysis is happening, you always have to have some type of muscle movement in order to come out of sleep paralysis. When the droplets are running down my face, my face muscles are still active. This prevents me from falling into a paralyzed muscle situation.
I’m usually able to drift off to a night of natural sleep.
Change your sleeping positions
As I said sleeping on the back is not the best position to sleep if you have sleep paralysis disorder. I find that sleeping on the side is often the best.
Stomach sleepers may also experience this sleeping disorder. So stay away from that sleeping position as well.
Get Up And Walk Around If You Feel An Episode Coming On
Not everyone can splash their face with cold water and then go to bed. Another method you can use is if you feel an episode coming on, get up, and walk around. This puts your muscles into active mode, that when you go to bed, you’ll be able to nod off without experiencing frozen muscles.
Get The Proper Amount Of Sleep
It’s essential for us to get the right amount of sleep. If you read my article on signs of not getting enough sleep, you know that our mind can create hallucinations as well as act drunk, which causes undue stress on the brain. Brain stress leads to experiencing sleep paralysis.
Get Treatment For Sleeping Disorders
Some people experience this sleeping disorder every night. My suggestion to these individuals is getting some proper medical treatment from a doctor who specializes in sleep disorders.
How to get out of sleep paralysis
1. Wriggle Your Fingers and Toes
These are tiny movements that will let your brain know that your body is awake. This will encourage your mind to stop the episode from going any further.
2. Relax Your Body To Get Into Lucid Dreaming
Another thing I found is that when I relax my body, it can lead to lucid dreaming. Many people have placed weird and evil connotations on lucid dreaming. It’s really none of those, at least not for me.
When I allow myself to move past the sleep paralysis into lucid dreaming, it becomes easier for me to wake up.
3. Click Your Tongue
This is a method I learned when I was in my early 20s. It was one of my chosen ways to get out of sleep paralysis. It just involves clicking your tongue; this will encourage your brain to release the hold on the frozen muscles.
4. Never Open Your Eyes
This method is not to get out of sleep paralysis, but when we open our eyes, we actually start resisting what is happening to us. It actually creates more fear, which leads to stress, then this stops our brain from reacting, hence keeping the muscles in a frozen state.
At least in my experience, opening my eyes has never help me to get out of sleep paralysis. It’s actually deepened the process.
5. Create An Anchor Word
When I was learning to do meditation, one thing I learned is that our subconscious is always the trigger to our conscious thinking. What I did during one of these meditation sessions was to create an anchor word that would encourage releasing of my muscles.
This anchor word can be any word that you feel you can use. But remember when our body goes into stress or fear mode, everything slips our mind. It is during this time you’re going to need to relax your body and repeat your anchor word in order to release the hold on your muscles.
6. Focus on Your Breathing
Knowing that when we experience an attack, our breathing usually which gets affected the most. Most often, I know that I start hyperventilating, it deepens the episode further.
By focusing on deep breathing, it often leads to lucid dreaming, which then makes it possible to come out of the episode even faster.
7. Make Yourself Cough
Coughing can be a little difficult, but not impossible to happen. What you really need to do is think about clearing your throat as you are undergoing the episode of sleep paralysis.
As you are clearing your throat, imagine yourself coughing which will then move your throat muscles and have you pop out of the scary session.
8. Tense Up Your Face
Tensing up your face works really well too. Although my sleep paralysis episodes have become very rare as I’ve gotten older, probably because I know how to deal with them, tensing my face has helped.
Soon as my face muscles twitch in any which way, instantly, my brain releases the hold it has over my muscles in my body.
9. Stop Resisting
Another great technique I learned is to quit resisting when it is happening. the more we fight, the harder it is to get out of.
This can lead to a period of resistance. The more I resist, the more my brain takes hold of my muscles to make sure they stay frozen.
These are just some of the sleep techniques I use to get out of sleep paralysis. I’m sure there are many more ways others use, which they consider their top methods.
Our brain gets used to repetition, so never try to use the same method over and over, your mind recognizes that and it will refuse to release the frozen muscles.
Share in comments below what methods you use to get out of sleep paralysis.
Reading is my favorite thing to do. But other than reading, I enjoy discovering new techniques on how to do something in simpler methods. My daughter likes to call me the Renaissance woman. So I do have to live up to the name.
One of my main issues is sleeping, so I’m always searching for new ways to get a good night sleep, I’m more than happy to share them with you.
My posts are either geared towards pain or self-help. Pain posts because I suffer from ongoing cancer pain. In the past 6 years of my fight with cancer, I have learned many ways to deal with pain, especially when going to bed.
The self-help posts come from my work as a mental health counselor for over 15+ years. My background in counseling training is from UFV and RRU. I also have personal trainer certification from IFA, so I might throw in some exercise posts as well.