One of the most common dreams I am asked about when on the air is the one where you are in your bed and a dark, sinister presence enters the room. It is so terrifying that you’re unable to move, speak out or scream. Very often it is difficult to breathe because the creature is on you, suffocating you! Some folks shake or feel like they are leaving their bodies.
People are horrified by this experience and , understandably, believe they have been haunted because it is very real and some swear they are awake.
The truth is, this is not a dream… nor is it a haunting. It is actually a fascinating physiological experience called Sleep Paralysis, or The Old Hag Syndrome! And there is not a thing one should worry about when it happens.
Here’s the deal, when we sleep and enter the REM state, which is when dreaming takes place, our brain releases a chemical that literally paralyzes our skeletal muscles so that we don’t act out our dreams. When we’ve had a fitful night of sleep or haven’t slept long enough, we will start to wakeup before our brain can re-activate our muscle control, which causes us to get “stuck” in that inbetween state of sleep and wakefulness. This is called Hypnogogia. Cool name, huh? In this state you are asleep and awake at the same time, which is why you are aware that you are in your room and in your bed. This is also why you can’t move, speak or scream… because you are still paralyzed!
Now, about that dark, frightening creature in the room. That is still a mystery to many researchers but I have a theory. We tend to have fitful nights of sleep because something is “weighing heavy” on us – hence the pressure on the chest. There is some negative force in our life that is keeping us from sleeping peacefully. It can be anything from debt, to relationship troubles. And in Dream Psychology, negative elements in our life often show up in our dreams in the form of a dark shadow, a monster or some other villainouscharacter. So when we are temporarily stuck in that Hypnogogic state, which is a hallucinatory state btw, it is no wonder that the very thing that is causing disrupted sleep would still be present in our mind. I have spoken to numurous people who have experienced this and when asked if was something heavy on their minds that night the answer has always been yes.
If this happens to you… fear not! It is mostly physiological and will subside in a moment or two. It is not harmful in any way and does not mean there is anything wrong with you. No need to call your priest or the ghost hunters! There is not a cure, as of yet, for Sleep Paralysis but journaling about any of your negative, worrisome issues before bedtime is a big help. Get it out of your psyche and onto paper. Try to sort out your thoughts about what is troubling you as best you can so you don’t take it into sleep with you. Also, making sure you have a regular sleep schedule and are getting enough good, solid sleep helps tremendously. I know. Easier said than done.
The next time you have this experience, now that you know what it is, it probably will not be as frightening to you. In fact, it’s a really cool state of mind, being asleep and awake at the same time, having a foot in both worlds. So take advantage of it! You can actually take control of it because it is essentially a lucid dream state, which means you can do anything you want! Will yourself to float up and out of your bed. Try flying through your house or walking through the wall. What I like to advise people to do is ask the presence in your room a question like, “Who are you?” “What do you need to tell me?” Or even, “What is the meaning of life?” and see what kind of answer you get! Odds are, you WILL get an answer.
That dream you’re wondering about right now is trying to tell you something YOU NEED TO KNOW! When you can understand your dreams, you can change your life. Set up a private dream reading with me now and I will help you understand every single part of your dream, what is causing the dream and the answers or warning your dream is giving you.
“It’s amazing how everything in the dream makes sense.I can stop obsessing over feeling guilty about the dream. Your interpretation helped me to actually forgive myself for something I couldn’t help. For 9 years I’ve been struggling with depression because of it. Now I can celebrate. thank you!” – Stacey Ulrich, Wausau, WI
First I cannot sleep and when I dose off I know everything around me I see my parents who are No longer here I can talk to them I find myself talking and making actions like they are next to me . First I cannot sleep and when I do I know what’s happening around me so my brain is going 24/7
Hi Lauri, I experienced this as a child into my teen years. I would hear the figure walk around the house come up the stairs, come in the back door and walk down the hallway to my room it would open my door and stand either at the end of my bed or beside my bed. sometimes it would sit at the end of my bed and watch me. This experience was so vivid that my cat that used to sneak into the window would react to its presence, by hissing and arching its back at its presence. I suffered nightmares where it would chase me with a knife with the intent on killing me, some times it would actually kill me. I was so terrified of it that I would feel its presence following me or watching me. It all stopped when I reached my late teens , when in a dream I actually got angry, stopped running from it and fought back physically, telling it to go away that I wasn’t afraid of it anymore and killing it in my dream.
I'm delighted to hear this helped! It's a terribly frightening experience, when you don't know what's really going on. As far as what book I recommend… well, if you like journaling then Cracking the Dream Code would be so beneficial. But if you just want to really understand the way your dreaming mind works, then Dream on It would be great for you. Let me know if you have any more questions.
Thank you very much. Regards, Barbara Schweickhardt
Dear Lauri…..thank you so much for getting back to me. This information helps me to understand that I'm not going crazy. The only thing I forgot to mention is that I've been taking Trazadone for awhile and wondered if this would have anything to do with my sleeping issues. I stopped taking it a week ago to see if things changed and so far no problems. I do have problems sleeping so I'm taking a half a Xanax, which seems to help most of the time. Please tell me which of your help books would you suggest for my issue. Thanks again. Regards, Barbara Schweickhardt.
My name is Steven C. Nunez the 3rd an I’m writing you, in hopes, that you will get this letter and you will help out in this degree of illness. Well, let me cut to the chase. I myself have suffered for years with night terrors ( hynogogia, to be precise ).
The thought of trying to get to sleep, but feeling paralyzed for 5 to 6 seconds, was, an is ” DISMAL, ” to say the least. But through the years, I had to find something, some way, to get into bed, without that hurtful dread. So, I experimented, to make a long story short, I found the missing key, an it was ” SOUND! ” I had a stint with cotton balls, but they weren’t strong enough to keep the voices and sounds out of my eardrums or I guess my mind. So, I gradutated up to earplugs in the night, an I’ll tell you right now, Lauri, I found the cure! Now I’m not sure if it works for everyone, but it sure worked for me. All I did was plug my ears every night before I would lay down for sleep an incredibly, I had no Sleep Paralysis, whatsoever. My question for you is, can you give it a shot and spread the word, that this might just work and if it does that we may have found a cure. In hopes you do, you’d be helping out the masses an I’d be in your debt. Test it out, what could it hurt? There’s no pills or anything to swallow, so if this works for me then I’m praying that it works for you also.
Steven C. Nunez III