Saturday, February 27, 2016

Hey! I'm back!

And it's only been a few days!!

I've spent some time thinking about the sleep paralysis phenomenon. I even had a conversation with the kid about it. He found it all a bit freaky. And really, it kind of is. There are several things that need to be discussed when it comes to sleep paralysis.

First, it's normal. You are probably thinking that you have never experienced it. But you have. Every single night. Ok so in actuality, what you experience every night is more rightly called REM atonia. This is where your brain tells your body to stay still while you are in REM sleep. This keeps you from getting hurt while dreaming about being a world class boxer or a ballet dancer. Your automatic organ functions keep going just fine. No, drinking a glass of water in the morning doesn't "activate" your organs. If they stopped working while you were asleep, you would die. But all your voluntary motor functions are shut down. I can hear you objecting. "But I roll around in my sleep all the time!" Well, sure you do. But not during REM sleep. When you come up from REM you regain some movement. So if you are uncomfortable in the position you are in, you just might roll over and then go back into REM sleep.

I know the other objections to this too. Everyone knows someone that talks in their sleep or sleepwalks. Both are fairly common. In these people the function of REM atonia is a bit looser or not as effective. As with most things with the human body there is a sort of spectrum on how well some things work. So on one side we have people that are able to sleep walk and talk in their sleep. Both of which aren't real cool because it could mean they aren't getting enough of the good kind of sleep and it can adversely affect their health. And then in the middle of the road you have your average person that doesn't move around during REM sleep and just does the normal rolling around in between bouts of REM. There is however another side to this. A very scary side known as sleep paralysis.

People that experience sleep paralysis generally find they are unable to move or speak even though they can hear and sometimes see things around them. It can be very frightening to be waking up but not be able to move. There is some thought that this phenomenon has spawned the whole alien abduction craze. Just imagine waking up and hearing people in the house making noise or even the wind rattling the windows but you aren't able to move. You are locked in your body, struggling to move or scream. It's not a huge leap to imagine that the grey guys have snatched you up. Especially if you manage to fall back to sleep before it wears off.

The first time I remember experiencing sleep paralysis, I was in junior high probably. I was having a sick day from school. Now, I'm old, so in our house at that time we only had two tvs. One in the living room and one in the basement. On sick days we would camp out on the living room couch and watch daytime tv while mom babied us. And again with the old thing, we didn't have a remote for the tv. You had to get up and change the channel at the tv itself. So, being sick and wrapped up on the couch, we were stuck watching whatever channel was on unless we could get mom to come change it. So there I am half conscious and watching soap opera after soap opera and being bored enough that I fell asleep. I distinctly remember waking up and being able to hear my mom out in the kitchen putzing around and talking on the phone. Again, old, we actually had cords on the phones, albeit long cords, so she was stuck in the kitchen to use the phone. I remember being able to see the room around me but it was really fuzzy. And I could not move or call for help. It scared the crap out of me. I kept trying to call for my mom because I was convinced I was dying. Being sick, I ended up falling back asleep. I never mentioned it to my parent because they already thought I was nuts. I've always been used to them not believing any of my stories.

Over the years I've experienced this several times. Almost always when I'm sick. And it's always terrifying. The absolute lack of control is horrible. It has fed my fear of becoming paralyzed. Hell I was partially paralyzed for a while in the mid 90s. It was not fun. I do not recommend.

Most of the time when I've experienced what I thought was sleep paralysis, it turned out to be a nightmare about sleep paralysis. I don't have nightmares often but 90% of the time they are about sleep paralysis. It's almost always a dream about someone being in my house and going through my things and I can't move or scream for them to stop. I am usually able to pick up clues that I'm only dreaming instead of experiencing the real thing pretty quickly. Usually the first clue is that my bed is in the wrong place in my room. I've moved it around a few times over the 16 years I've lived here, but it's been in the same spot now for at least 6 years or more. Another clue is that the furniture or the pictures on the walls are wrong. I can always see a hazy view of my room through half lidded eyes. The next clue is if I'm actually able to see out into the rest of the apartment. This is something I really can't do with my bed where it is. Often in these dreams the point of view will change from first person to an overview. Once this happens, I just tell myself it's a dream and to think of something else. I am a very lucid dreamer. I can often times control what is going on or force a sort of reset to fix stuff I don't like. So stopping a bad dream is pretty easy once I realize I am dreaming.

There is another kind of sleep paralysis that I've experienced over the years. These ones are much more frightening and thankfully only have happened a couple times. I may have mentioned on here that there is a ghost in my house. Normally she is just kind of a pain in the ass. She will make noise or move things around. If you ask her nicely, she will shut up or put whatever she has taken back where it belongs. Sometimes she likes to mess with me when I'm in bed. The latest incident was about a week ago, which is why this subject is on my mind.

In this incident, I was sleeping on my left side. In order to do this, I have to sleep with a body pillow behind me and in front of me otherwise I'll roll onto my back. This will wake me up because I have trouble breathing. Damn boobs are too heavy. So basically, I'm not moving anywhere much if I'm sleeping on my left side. This also means I'm facing the wall. You really can't get to the left side of the bed unless you were to crawl over me because of shelves at the foot of the bed. So there I am, sleeping facing the wall with my pillows around me and a fan blowing on me from the foot of the bed. Suddenly I can feel something large rolling under my mattress pad between me and the wall. It's going from the top of the bed to the foot and then kind of smacking into the fan. The first time it happens I'm trying to move so I can tell the ghost to cut the crap. Only I can't move or say anything. Not cool. It happens again and I'm straining and trying to move and starting to freak. This happens three or four times and the fan getting smacked harder each time. I'm freaking out more and more because I can't move or scream. In my head I'm screaming like a banshee but nothing is coming out. Finally it happens where the fan gets knocked off the shelf and lands on the floor but is immediately picked back up and put on the shelf a little crooked. I'm basically one creaming lunatic at this point. One more time I feel the rolling under the mattress pad but when it gets about halfway down the bed my body finally gets with the program. Both of my arms and legs jerked out to the side and I screamed, "God damn it! Knock it off!" Immediately the rolling stopped and didn't come back again. This left me laying in bed trying to catch my breath because damn that shit was scary. Now I suppose that all could have been a dream, but the fan was, in fact, not in the right spot on the shelf when I got up the next morning. Also, everything I could see during the incident was correct for what is in my room right now. The lighting, the bedding and positions were all right. And it's not the first time she has done something similar. The last time involved shaking my blankets like a kid having a temper tantrum.

All in all, sleep paralysis is pretty scary in the moment but really shouldn't worry most people after the fact. It's fairly normal. The REM atonia is actually something to be grateful for since it keeps us fairly safe from hurting ourselves. Everyone falls somewhere on this spectrum. Some of us sleep walk or talk in our sleep while some of us experience sleep paralysis. I kind of envy those in the middle. My only experience with sleep walking was not pleasant so I don't envy those that experience it often.

I'm hopeful that these dreams about sleep paralysis will finally go away. I really don't enjoy the panic I feel before realizing what is going on. They really are about the only nightmares I have which I'm grateful for. I'm sure the incidences when I'm sick will continue but thankfully I don't get sick very often. We will just ignore the fact that I've been ill for the last 3 weeks. I don't include the incident with the ghost last week in the category of  the incidences when I'm sick simply because normally shit isn't moving around if it's only because I'm sick. Hopefully the ghost has gotten it out of her system for a while because I'm so not interested in a repeat any time soon.

And thus concludes the info I have on sleep paralysis. I'm not sure what subject I'll talk about next time. Maybe the tiny house phenomenon. It has me so damn torn. On one hand I kind of like the idea of a tiny house on wheels. On the other the brat and I are so damn cramped in our place as it is and we would probably kill each other in a tiny house. I've actually been on the look out for a house near where I work. Anyways, I'll think on it and see what I can come up with.


No comments: