This short film gives a sense of how terrifying sleep paralysis can be

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I was just about to say how accurate this is (based on my experiences) but the way it ended, it made it look like she woke up from a bad dream, rather than the real world “coming into focus” and being able to move.

The best part was the gameshow host moving his head toward where the real nasty thing was lurking. I’ve had stuff like that happen. Things in the dream-state that aren’t scary enough will help you look for scarier things.


Thanks for posting!
It’s amazing film, and very accurate depiction of terror associated with sleep paralysis. The more terrifying ones that I had were feeling very similar to this, the fear was indescribable and very primal. When sleep paralysis event gets too unpleasant, the best way to break it is concentrating on moving a single finger. Typically it stops quite soon after.
If anyone wants to give it a try, the best way to experience sleep paralysis is waking up too early (like 4 am) in the morning, getting out of bed for about 10 minutes, and then getting back to sleep by just laying on your back and relaxing. The relaxation is very important.
For additional weirdness sleep paralysis can be easily transformed into out-of-body experience. :slight_smile:


Well said. For me transition from sleep paralysis into waking state is continuous, with dream imagery fading as control over the body returns.

I think that it’s a positive feedback loop(but there’s nothing positive about it :slight_smile: ), with fear fueling more terrifying dream imagery.

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I used to have a sort of sleep paralysis where it seemed to come before I fell asleep at all. First I would hear a pulse, and it would feel as if something moved through me. At that point I was still awake and mobile, but then once I tried to relax, it would hit me that I was suddenly unable to move. Then dream imagery would start to fade in until I was fully immersed in it. On one occasion I thought that I was thrown into the wall and then out of my bed and onto the floor. I remember feeling the carpet against my skin and being unable to do anything. I’m not sure if the whole thing was a dream or what.

Now it’s more normal, still terrifying, but not anything like it used to be.

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This is a start of out-of-body experience. When you quickly move away from the bed during such event, it can last longer and become more vivid, sometimes even more vivid than the real, waking world. I noticed that if it happens and I stay close to the bed, soon I’m unable to move, just as you described. When out-of-body experience starts to fade, one way to prolong it and bring clarity again it to touch something near you (wall, floor, it doesn’t matter). Tactile sensation will bring it into focus again.

They even got the sounds right.

For me its much more abrupt. Suddenly fully awake. Usually screaming. Once I kicked my roommate in the face. He’d be trying to wake me out of it.


Sadly I had no control during the being thrown around the room phase, though it is interesting that one could use this as an out of body experience.

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As it turns out, what we call sleep is a whole set of systems that can sometimes be had à la carte.

The mechanism for sleep paralysis is normally a disconnect so that when the brain is going 90 MPH in dreaming REM sleep, the body isn’t thrashing all over the bed.

Obviously it doesn’t always switch on and off at the right time.

The part I hate is during a nightmare when I try to yell or scream and I’m just aware enough to know that I’m not making any sound.

Does anyone else ever get that sudden leg twitch as you’ve fallen asleep? I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the moment the disconnect is switching on.


For me the best way to turn sleep paralysis or mind awake, body asleep state into out-of-body experience is to imagine the feeling of movement, for example like riding elevator or climbing a rope. Try it sometime, for me first time I did it, it was a life changing experience. :slight_smile:

I have it too sometimes, I think it’s caused by the feeling of falling just as sleep sets in. It’s called “hypnic jerk”:

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I find this so confusing. I have had sleep paralysis many, many times, and it is not terrifying to me at all. In fact, its sometimes fun, in a way. I experience no malevolent presences, vague or otherwise; no feeling of being pressed down or any of these things I hear about. I experience the paralysis; I sometimes feel that I’m floating out of my body, but it’s more of an interesting state of mind to be in than anything else.

" . . .often feel as if they have awakened but cannot move despite some sort of terrifying force menacing them. In some cases it just feels like existential dread, though this film shows a common experience of a demonic creature sitting on top of the dreamer. "

I understand that these are peoples’ experiences, but they sound so alien to mine, its as if they are telling me that the sky is purple.


I think that it’s this way because you are not afraid of it. If you have no initial fear, it won’t be amplified by your dreaming mind and terrifying visions won’t get created. At least for me that seems to be the case. But scary experiences in retospect can be fun too, just as good horror video game can :slight_smile:
Can I ask you at what time of day you typically experience sleep paralysis? Maybe you have noticed particular sleep pattern that causes it?

Sleep paralysis is the name for the physical phenomena. Which doesn’t always go along with the dreams and hallucinations.

Those hallucinations are just as likely to be pleasant or frightening as any other dream. But the physical symptoms are pretty frightening on their own, so that tends to color the hallucinations.

I’ve had pleasant and unpleasant waking dreams.

Even the terrifying ones are awesome


I think dogs get this also. You’ve all seen dogs ‘chasing rabbits’ in their sleep. But I’ve also seen dogs whimper and quiver and wake up disturbed.

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Interesting but not real in my experience. I’ve had the sleep paralysis experience one time in my memory and it happened not long after I had been reading about it in an article in ‘Skeptical Inquirer’ explaining why some people report supernatural occurrences and alien encounters. It stuck in my mind and when my own paralysis episode came about I was no more than interested and curious about how long it would take to wear off. In my case motion came back bit-by-bit in maybe 30 seconds. I guess it is all about expectations.

That’s one of the more interesting things about it. You can induce it in other people. All it takes is some one in a position of authority describing it in detail and then telling you you’ll experience it. Sort of a classic example of psychological suggestion.

I must say I loved Santa-Samara. She or he is going to be part of my christmas decor next year!

Been through this twice fairly recently – the last 10 years – after I’d read about the phenomena.

The first, I found myself getting really annoyed at the obscure-face bogeyman in my parent’s guest bedroom. “Shit, I’m having one of those waking dreams, and this lame monster is looming over me. Fuck off, monster.”

The second was surreal. I was in the family vacation place in the Adirondaks, in the dead of winter. Like, 10 F below 0 out. In the dream, it was summer, there were big gaps in the walls between the boards, and I could see LARPers or cosplayers hurling around water balloons on our manicured lawn, which sloped down to the river. (There is no lawn, just a dirt driveway and second-growth forest and a modest creek down the road.) I found myself profoundly annoyed at these renaissance-faire rejects, but could not make myself shout at them.

Preceding an episode of sleep paralysis, I would often get a not-unpleasant electrical sensation, kind of a buzz or hum that would surge through my body when I was lying down to go to sleep. I had a period of a year or two during which sleep paralysis and lucid dreaming were fairly common, but haven’t had an incident of either now for a few years. With some effort, I can still lucid dream, and if I put some effort into it, I get better at controlling the experience and frequency. Sleep paralysis, on the other hand, I never had any control over and seemed to happen at random for reasons I never could discover. The firs time it happened was terrifying and felt supernatural.


That is much like my experience with sleep paralysis. The frightening part when I first experienced it was I thought I was the thought it was permanent. Now, I experience it and I can ride it out lucidly.

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