Frozen in Sleep

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Frozen in Sleep

Sleep paralysis is the  temporary inability to move or speak when falling asleep.

Sleep paralysis is the temporary inability to move or speak when falling asleep.

Medical News Today

Sleep paralysis is the temporary inability to move or speak when falling asleep.

Medical News Today

Medical News Today

Sleep paralysis is the temporary inability to move or speak when falling asleep.

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You suddenly wake up in the middle of the night. As your eyes adjust to the darkness around you, you feel a strong sense of fear. You feel like someone is in the room with you. You attempt to move, to scream, to do anything, but you can only lay there, frozen and helpless as the dark figure draws closer. 

This is a common description of what it feels like during sleep paralysis. According to WebMD, sleep paralysis is, “simply a sign that your body is not moving smoothly through the stages of sleep.” It occurs during the stages between sleep and wakefulness. A person who experiences sleep paralysis is conscious, but is usually unable to move or utter a sound. These episodes can range from a few seconds to a few minutes. People usually feel like someone is choking them, or applying pressure on their necks, making them unable to breathe or scream. 

This terrifying and mysterious sleep disorder usually occurs randomly. It is a relatively common experience as up to one in four individuals has experienced it.  People usually experience different sensations during sleep paralysis, but the most common include a dark figure, the feeling of falling, and difficulty in breathing. 

I went around the school and interviewed people who experience or have experienced sleep paralysis. Here are their stories:

Mr. Davis:

“What’s scary about sleep paralysis is the fear of the unknown. Not being able to control your muscles. It seems like you’re in a coma state and you really can’t speak up or act out. I experience sleep paralysis about two or three times a year on average. It’s as if someone is there and it feels as if someone is holding you keeping you from moving and your eyes are open and you can see this person but you can’t move or say anything to them. I don’t like the feeling because it’s fearful. However, it feels really good when you come out of it. You know everything is okay.”

Nawal Elsayad, 11th Grade:

“I believe that it could lead to not necessarily a trauma, but some people get scared to go to sleep because it’s a scary, fearful experience.  I see shadows moving around me and I hear ticking. It’s a scary experience,  and you really can’t do anything to get yourself out of the situation. I remember I woke up and I tried to get up to go to the bathroom, but I couldn’t move and I was afraid because I couldn’t move. I kept on trying to shake my hand and I felt like it was twitching but I couldn’t move it.”

Anonymous student:

“While I was sleeping I had my hand over my face, and I believe it was like that for about 3 minutes. And when I was about to switch to my left side I couldn’t move and that’s when I noticed it was happening. I share a room with my big sister, but that night I slept on the floor. I was telling myself to move, move, move. I tried to mumble my sister’s name and I believe I could hear myself calling out her name, but she could not hear me because I had my hand over my face and I clearly couldn’t move it. Also, she’s a deep sleeper. I believe after a minute, I saw her get up to shake me awake but I thought it wouldn’t help, so I kept on trying to move. When I gained conscious, I searched for my sister and she was not even up, she was still sleeping on the bed.”