My Adventures in Sleep Paralysis

I’ve experienced hypnopompic sleep paralysis a few times. At a simple level, hypnopompic sleep paralysis is when you wake up and can’t move your body because part of your brain thinks you’re still dreaming. It’s remarkably unpleasant. I usually come out of it screaming. Not being able to move is bad enough, but sleep paralysis can also cause hallucinations. These hallucinations are believed to be the source of many accounts of alien abduction and other supernatural events. Victims often see a figure approaching them when they are in this state. Sometimes this figure climbs on top of them. The experiences of victims are scarily similar, and there are those who believe that the figures that appear during sleep paralysis are not hallucinations.

Henry Fuseli’s The Nightmare (1781)

As far as I remember, I have only hallucinated during sleep paralysis once. It happened a few years ago. I woke up from a nightmare and couldn’t move. Then I felt something approaching.

It was fucking terrifying. Honestly, even thinking about it creeps me out. Directly after it happened, I was not in a state where I could go back to sleep, so I took out my phone and wrote down what I experienced. Here is what I wrote:

In abandoned house (like the show houses I was in when a teenager. This one is situated in {my apartment complex} towards the back near playground.) I’m there to teach a class because the lad from {my old job} broke the tv in somebody’s apartment by trying to open the secret entrance into somebody else’s apartment. He got trapped in the ground and smashed their TV. I tried to get glass of water but it starts moving by itself – water is being splashed about – I think it’s a kid playing and try to grab the water but it moves to other side of room splashing by itself. Start to realise something awful is occurring. Then one kid holds a lighter to curtain hanging over bannister from upstairs. It’s a white curtain. I try to drag it down to put it out. I’m not really the teacher anymore. (I have short hair and glasses.) The curtain is smoking then bursts to flames. Not coming down fast enough. Starts burning quickly but we know we can’t put it out. (How do we know this? Just an evil feeling that is giving me serious goosebumps to recall.) We try to get out because we realise there is something bad in the house, not just the fire. Trapped at the door. Panic. Realise it’s a dream.
Awake in Mam’s house sleeping on couch. Try to scream to get attention. But can’t. Mild grunting “ahhhh”s. Trapped in body. Can move one arm terribly slowly. Mam coming downstairs and opening door. Head looks in. Trying to scream to get her attention. That’s not mam. Realise 100% that I’m asleep but can’t wake myself up. Only feeble moans. It’s approaching. This is not real and I know it but I can’t wake up. It’s terrible, black, slinking, demonic.
Awake in a cold sweat screaming loudly. On couch alone. Demon’s head is the lamp. Very scared. Write this. Still scared. Did {my wife} hear me scream? Afraid to get up in case demon is here. Those chills again. Terrified.

The actual dream part (the green bit) is typical of my dreams, full of non sequiturs and mixing up different parts of my life. The burning curtain is interesting; I nearly died in a fire in an abandoned house when I was teenager. I’m sure that’s where this image is from. The thing about the hair and glasses dates the events in the dream to a decade before they were dreamt. (I had laser eye surgery in my early twenties.) Also when I “wake up” the first time, I find myself in my mam’s house in Ireland. I left Ireland 7 or 8 years before the dream. Somehow though, towards the end of the visitation, I am back in my own house. The thing that I had seen approaching me was actually just the Ikea lamp in the corner of my sitting room. That part surprises me. It suggests that my eyes were open when I was experiencing the visitation.

I knew what sleep paralysis was before I had this experience, and I believe I knew that that’s what it was when I was experiencing it. Knowing did not make it any less terrifying. If you have had similar experiences, I am sure you will agree. They are absolutely awful.

Dark Intrusions: An Investigation into the Paranormal Nature of Sleep Paralysis Experiences
Louis Proud
Anomalist Books – 2009

When I saw a book titled Dark Intrusions: An Investigation into the Paranormal Nature of Sleep Paralysis Experiences, I was intrigued. I’m fairly skeptical of the paranormal, but my own experiences with sleep paralysis have been so unpleasant that I thought that a book about similar experiences might be very frightening.

The first few chapters, the parts where the author describes his own experiences, are alright.

The second, and far longer part of the book, covers how the entities people encounter during sleep paralysis are actually from the astral realm. The author seems to believe that dreams are visits to the astral realm. Sleep paralysis quickly becomes a blanket term for any kind of paranormal experience. There’s a bunch of discussion of paranormal events that happen when people are entirely awake and in the presence of others.

Honestly, this book was such a bunch of bullshit that I couldn’t finish it. I tried skimming through, but it was unbearable. After reading one quarter, I skipped to the chapter on Whitley Strieber, but after maybe 2 sentences of that, I gave up completely. I wasn’t sure whether to even discuss this book here, but it gave me a good excuse to share my own visitation story, so here you go.

Sleep paralysis is terrifying, but Dark Intrusions is shit.