Adventures In Sleep Paralysis

Kate In The Desert

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I vividly remember a dream (whereas normally I forget them instantly on waking) in which I was hanging from the gutter on a building. A spider bit me painfully on a finger, causing me to fall. As per standard procedures, I woke before landing, but my finger was still throbbing from the "bite"... There was no visible damage, and to this day I remain puzzled as to what actually caused the pain.
Wow, that's really wild! Have you had spider bites in waking life? If so, was the sensation the same?

Now that a number of people have posted here about dream pain, I'm starting to think I might be unusual in NOT experiencing such a thing. And I don't perceive hot or cold in dreams, either. Here all along, I've thought I've had vivid dreams. Apparently not!

What I do experience often is lengthy conversations in dreams. Lots of social events, often with people I don't know. It's not unusual to wake up remembering a full comment someone made, or a joke someone told (not that it's all that knee-slappingly funny when awake). I consider myself very fortunate that I've not had sleep paralysis or physical pain in dreams. (Emotional pain, yes, and that can wake me up.)
 

Krepostnoi

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Have you had spider bites in waking life? If so, was the sensation the same?
No, thankfully, I haven't - I'm a recovering arachnophobe, so spider bites hold a peculiar horror for me. That said, until relatively recently, I was living in the UK, where there are very few species capable of puncturing human skin, so it was never really a likely eventuality (and it is therefore unlikely that my sleeping brain interpolated an actual bite into my dream).

OT - My recovery got to the stage where I was actually contemplating acquiring a tarantula - to the extent of agreeing with a dealer to buy a Brachypelma albopilosum juvenile male - but unfortunately my circumstances suddenly changed and I wasn't able to go through with the purchase.
 

Kate In The Desert

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No, thankfully, I haven't - I'm a recovering arachnophobe, so spider bites hold a peculiar horror for me. That said, until relatively recently, I was living in the UK, where there are very few species capable of puncturing human skin, so it was never really a likely eventuality (and it is therefore unlikely that my sleeping brain interpolated an actual bite into my dream).

OT - My recovery got to the stage where I was actually contemplating acquiring a tarantula - to the extent of agreeing with a dealer to buy a Brachypelma albopilosum juvenile male - but unfortunately my circumstances suddenly changed and I wasn't able to go through with the purchase.
Congratulations on the recovery. But sheesh, a tarantula! {{{shudder}}} You're brave. [Definitely an arachnophobe here, but not recovering.]
 

BeardSprite

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Hello everyone, 'sort of' new in town (see New Members post here).

I regularly experience episodes of sleep paralysis, so this thread and the subject in general are of particular interest to me!

I won't detail all my 'episodes' here (I'm at work on my lunch break, I don't want to monopolise the thread, and I haven't kept detailed records (though maybe I should!), though if there's interest I'll dredge up and post what I can, but I wanted to share a few observations prompted by recent discussion in this thread:

Re: sleeping on your back. I've experienced sleep paralysis in all sleeping positions - front, back, left side and right side. Most usually right side these days, as that's the side I generally sleep on.

Sleeping on my back or left side is least likely, as I find these positions generally uncomfortable when trying to doze off, and I don't seem to move around a lot in my sleep (unlike my partner, who would appear to be several hundred squirrels inhabiting a Goth suit when she's asleep).

Screaming etc: It's been reported to me that when I'm having an episode, I make weird sounds like I'm trying to speak, shout or scream, but can't. Which tallies with my 'in dream' experience - I'm really trying to cry out one way or another, but can't.

General theme: I'm either being haunted by a vague shadowy figure in the doorway, or 'abducted by aliens' who's presence is only ever implied or evidenced through disembodied voices murmuring reassuring (well, that's the aim, it fails!) telepathic messages.

Occasionally I will feel a hand grab my wrist or ankle, but not very often.

Sometimes there is a 'normal' dream preamble - I'll be walking somewhere, see a light in the sky (always the same, 'ball lightning' leaving angular Tron-like lines in its wake) and go home so as to be 'in' when the experience kicks off.

Or a deceased friend will visit, and we'll be well into our cigarettes and coffee when I'll suddenly realise - "Wait up. You're dead!" and then the paralysis kicks in and the furniture starts to fly around the room, Poltergeist (the movie) style!

I should note I don't believe I'm actually having an abduction experience, its just the form the attendant dream/hallucination sometimes takes.

Nor does the furniature actually fly around (I'm sure witnesses would have reported this had it done so!), although the deceased friend in question was also prone to sleep paralysis in life, and always reported it as 'a horde of Satans little helpers come to drag him to hell'.

Dream pain: I've experienced it in conjunction with sleep paralysis - notably when bitten by a dog (I'm a cynophobe!) on my hand, shot in the neck with a bow and arrow by a ninja (that was an odd one!) and that time I dreamed/hallucinated my big toe exploded (I woke up to find an enormous spot had erupted on it during the night...). In most cases it can be ascribed to having slept on the affected area, and usually resolves as 'pins and needles' upon waking - except with the one about the toe!

I think I'm starting to ramble, so I'll call it done there for now.

These are amazing! Thanks so much for posting that link, Lordmongrove!
Yes, seconded! 2, 11, 15, 19 and 21 are all relatable ;)
 

IbisNibs

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"Woke up to what felt like thousands of rotting hands reach up and try to pull me down. . . . " :eek:
 

pandacracker

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These are amazing! Thanks so much for posting that link, Lordmongrove!
Seconded. `

I'm mighty glad I looked at that website in the morning and not at night just before bed!!

And I had another, what I call, "anxiety dream" last night (where I do manage to shout out) mentioned in the "creepy dream about darkness" thread.

That's two in a week. I must be worried about something. :freak:
 

IbisNibs

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Draw the feelings or dance them out and be as silly as all get out. Anxiety can't withstand silliness.
 

pandacracker

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Thanks IbisNibs

I had another one last night.

This time I remember the dream, was kinda lucid. I heard something scrabbling around at the foot of my bed and I thought it was a rodent. Decided to make a noise but nothing came out of my mouth so I knew I was having "one of those" dreams. It then went proper dream like, was in an upstairs landing approaching a cupboard that was open, with stuff fallen out on the floor, as I looked around the open door I saw stuff moving all by itself, decided to shout out, struggled to do so (obviously) and then... woke myself up yelling.

Oh, and before all this (or maybe during?) I had the sensation of falling asleep, my body getting heavier, with a kind of gentle but inexorable head-spin and I had the thought "oh, I'm having one of those dreams again". I tried to fight it but in the end decided to go with it because I knew that once I called out the tension would be broken and I'd get back to proper sleep.
 

BeardSprite

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If you're looking for more on sleep paralysis, try this other thread:

Adventures in sleep paralysis

I think I might be something of an odd fish in these waters - I seem to be the only one who likes their sleep paralysis episodes :pop:. Well, once they're over and I'm safely awake and reflecting on them - in media res, not so much, perhaps.
What is it about sleep paralysis you like? Maybe you mean lucid dreaming?
I've brough this here from the "Scariest Fortean thing ever..." thread, as it fits better here :cool:

So, to address the second part of the question first - no, when I get sleep paralysis, there's nothing lucid about it - I'm not aware I'm dreaming, or able to exert any control, I'm just along for the ride!

As to what I like about it - firstly its like having your own personal and personilized horror movie, whats not to like?

I also like the interplay of the real and the unreal and the hypnopompic/hypnogogic (I can have episodes either as I'm dropping off or waking up!) hallucination/dreamstate. I find it fascinating that I can be 'awake' enough to perceive the room around me enough to be accurately represented in the dream/hallucination and yet still be asleep enough not to realise thats whats happening.

I'm partial to regular nightmares/bad dreams, too my sleeping mind can certainly put together a 'fun' show for the purpose of terrorising itself!

The addition of the whole paralysis aspect certainly adds to the frisson! Well, once I've woken up and the mind numbing terror has passed :thought:

I can still remember my 'first' (well, its the first one I can remember!) episode of Sleep Paralysis - recently talked to my mother about it, see if she remembered it - she did not - but told me we moved out of that house when I was three and a half years old, so I would have been about three when it happened, I recon.

The house was a typical UK 'two up, two down' terraced house, and I had the room at the front of the house, my bed placed with the foot facing directly to the door of the room.

The 'dream' started with me 'waking' abruptly to see bright, but still obviously domestic electric (c1974), light streaming in all around the door, making it a clearly delineated dark rectangle in the darkened room. I could even make out the door latch and the hinges (in silouette).

There was 'something' on the otherside of the door. It kept asking me, using the voice of one of my mothers friends (who was from America, and had a very distinctive accent) to open the door and let it in, and reasuring me it was just my mothers friend.

I knew this was a lie. I knew it was an entity that bore the physical shape of that most horrifying of creatures...






...Bungle, from the childrens tv show Rainbow. But with large black eyes - @Bad Bungle 's avatar gives me a little jolt every time I see it, the resemblance is uncanny! Especially considering that the door never opened and I never actually saw the entity - I just knew thats what was there!

Anyway, this being a sleep paralysis episode I couldn't move or speak or cry out or any of that, so I just lay there, terrified, for I don't know how long, until I actually awoke, to find myself rotated 90 degree's and about halfway down the bed, my head poking out of the covers and hanging over the edge of the bed (in the dream, I was lying in the normal position, lengthwise on the bed, head on the pillow at the head end), and this the part my mother doesn't remember, bolted out of bed and belted downstairs (through the same door and onto the same landing the 'Bungle-Thing' would have been occupying if it was real) and wailed my way downstairs, disrupting the quiet night in with a few friends (I'm assuming including mums American friend, but those details escape me, too!).

It was after this I took to having the light left on until I dozed off (my parents turning it off when they went to bed) and sleeping with my favourite cap-gun (a faux six shooter with flaking chrome plating and dark red fake wood effect plastic hand-grip!) under my pillow.
 
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escargot

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sleeping with my favourite cap-gun (a faux six shooter with flaking chrome platung and dark red fake wood effect plastic hand-grip!) under my pillow.
Reminds me of a science fiction story wherein a small boy has recurring nightmares about Daleks. His father gives him a picture of a gun to hang on the wall, and when the Daleks next come the boy grabs the gun shoots them.

Many years later the boy is trapped in some intergalactic coma or some such and more baddies come to attack him in his dreams.
He remembers the Dalek-killing gun and conjures it up, and can then defend himself successfully.
 

Donna Black

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With me it started with god knows where, but definitely aged 12 and the michelin man shadow on my bedroom wall.
 

Donna Black

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That would be amazing if sleep paralysis was a fantasy, but holy cow that's not anything like it.
 

Donna Black

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BeardSprite, no disrespect but you're patently a lucid dreamer, which is uncanny and awesome, but the horrors of sleep paralysis are something else.
 

packshaud

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As to what I like about it - firstly its like having your own personal and personilized horror movie, whats not to like?
Nope. Nonononono, I'm not going to let this one slide again--somehow the "adventures" part evaded my awareness when I subscribed to the thread.
The first thing I thought when I read the e-mail notification was, "Adventure?"
Horror movies are sort of fun because you are safe in the comfort of your chair, and the spooks are not real. The chair feels different when it is inside Jigsaw's room.
I had a number of these visits. Only one of them was sort of trickstery -- something small was running over me and giggling while I was unable to move -- and all the other ones were like "let me out of this theater."
I have to say, though, that I never strongly felt the entities as evil. This is hard to explain, or perhaps I am not understanding what people mean by sensing acute evilness. The situation was scary by itself, more because "this shouldn't be happening," but it was not like looking at a person that was all smiles and apparently normal and having a sense of being side by side with a spawn of Satan, or the boss himself. No, not at all.
These things can kill people with heart diseases. There is medical literature on the lethal aspect, notably by Shelley Ruth Adler; her Sleep Paralysis: Night-mares, Nocebos, and the Mind-Body Connection book is my go-to reference on this subject.
Of course this is personal. I think it was Carl Sagan in his The Demon-Haunted World that said seeing a dragon in a drug trip may be beautiful or make the user going to the nearest window.
 

BeardSprite

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With me it started with god knows where, but definitely aged 12 and the michelin man shadow on my bedroom wall.
Feel free to elaborate on your sleep paralysis adventures, always curious to learn more about other folks similar yet different experiences of s-p :popc:

BeardSprite, no disrespect but you're patently a lucid dreamer, which is uncanny and awesome, but the horrors of sleep paralysis are something else.
None taken! I do think we're opperating from different definitions/understanding of 'lucid dreaming' though. I understand lucid dreaming to be where the dreamer knows they are dreaming, and is able to exert some, or even total, control over the dream experience. I almost never experience that, and on the tiny handful of cases where I have realised I'm dreaming and attempted to exert control (memorably - 'ok, this is obvoiusly a dream, nothing else makes sense. So if I jump up and outretch my arms, I'll be able to fly! *Jumps up, extends arms, flies* 'Omg this is amaz...' BAM! Wide awake now!) my brain gets all giddy at the prospect and immediatly I wake up. Damnit. :fslap:

My dreams have always been extremely vivid - at least in terms of content and detail - even though the lighting might best be termed 'gothic' for outdoor scenes (kind of like UK streets are now with their widely spaced white LED lighting - it took me a few weeks to adjust to reality looking like my dreamscapes after dark when those lights started appearing...) and either 'cosy' or 'murky' for indoor scenes.

I often remember dreams, and some I can recall from years ago, all the way back to fairly early childhood - especially the sleep-paralysis related ones!

One I recall from when I was five (so mid-ish 1976, I had just started school) was of a purple mini crashed into, and crushed by the subsequently toppled concrete lamp post. This was a real event - we arrived at school one morning and the car was still in place on the bend (about where the lampost is on the right in this google view), lampost still on top of it. The car would have been driving on the left (UK!) and swung across the right hand lane out into the lamp post, for whatever reason. My school was on the now waste-land behind the fence on the left.

The dream I had shortly after (not sure if it was that night or a bit later) was of that scene in darkness, lit by a full moon hanging roughly in a spot in the sky to appear where the street light would have been, and two ghostly figures hovering above the wreckage, one either side of the 'moon lamp'. There was not much more to it than that, but the details remain very clear, to this day - especially the spectral figures. just like a person draped in a wet sheet so it clung to them, even about the neck and shoulders, so you could make out moses, and hollows where the eyes, mouth and other features should be, yet still showing vertical creasing in the 'sheet' which did not appear to actually be wet, or have any holes in it. From about mid torso the definition became less clear, and began to fade through translucence to nothingness, the 'sheet' disappearing before reaching the ground, but dangling much further down than a persons legs would before fading out.

Don't remember if it was an S-P dream (my gut feeling is not), but at least its on a Fortean theme. I have no idea if anyone was hurt or worse in the crash, but that mini was in a bad way, so I wouldn't rate anyones chances had they been in it.

Anyway, back on topic! About the closest I get to my understanding of lucid dreaming in my S-P dreams is if its one of the alien abduction themed ones and the dream at that moment in an 'outdoor scene' and the following occurs:

Sometimes there is a 'normal' dream preamble - I'll be walking somewhere, see a light in the sky (always the same, 'ball lightning' leaving angular Tron-like lines in its wake) and go home so as to be 'in' when the experience kicks off.
My brain realises that for the next scene to make sense I need to be at home, in my bed, but doesn't quite grasp that 'hey, this means you're dreaming!'. Ah well :dunno:

Nope. Nonononono, I'm not going to let this one slide again--somehow the "adventures" part evaded my awareness when I subscribed to the thread.
The first thing I thought when I read the e-mail notification was, "Adventure?"
Not quite sure whats to 'let slide' here @packshaud . Its just as valid for you to be repulsed and horrified by your S-P experiences as it is for me to, retrospectively at least, find mine enjoyable/entertaining. I'd miss them if it ever stopped happening - more on that in a moment - and my intent in sharing this stuff here is not to harm or upset anyone when doing so, so apologies for that if thats happened here!

I just said I'd miss my S-P experiences if they ever stopped, and whilst I've had 3-4 over the past six months or so, their character has changed in A most unwelcome manner - I put this down to the complete and utter :sstorm: the past six months have been irl!

First of all, though there have been several, I can only recall two of them, for the others my partner has been awake and informed my of the yelling, after gently waking me up because of it.

So the two recent ones I can remember have been similar - I'm being squashed under a great weight. In the first instance the enormous, flabby body of a dead giant which has somehow ended up on top of me, and in the second by the rubble of a house that had collapsed whilst I was inside it. In both cases I'm pinned with my arms pulled up close and crossed over my chest, unable to move, so I start shouting for help. Which I'm informed I was actually doing, loudly and clearly, instead of the usual S-P moaning, groaning and laboured breathing! Upon waking I've made myself into a duvet-burrito, and my arms have actually been pinned in such a manner.

Come back dead-ghost friends and alien abductions, those ones are way more fun than the recent S-P trend!

Edit: yikes, that got long and rambly - thanks for reading!
 
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packshaud

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Edit: yikes, that got long and rambly - thanks for reading!
Field reports are always welcome; I overreacted because you accidentally stepped on a sore thumb, my apologies.

I often have very weird dreams, but the ones with sleep paralysis rank very low in the "Agaaaaaaaain!" section.
 
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EnolaGaia

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I find this interesting, because ...

There is good reason to suspect there might be more of an overlap between lucid dreaming and sleep paralysis than is usually acknowledged.

One of the natural steps in the sleep process is disengagement of motor control in "reality" (the plane of the sleeping body). This is typically an absolute unplugging of the physical body from the mental / psychological / whatever first-person actions depicted in the dreamer's dreaming.

This disengagement step must, of course, be reversed in surfacing to the waking state.

If this reversal is delayed (or the surfacing sequence is somehow otherwise jumbled) one might surface with an inability to move or control his / her physical body. If truly conscious, this would be experienced as a paralysis on the "real plane of existence."

However, if one were still under the influence of dreaming - especially lucid dreaming - one might dream of surfacing while still dreaming.

In other words, it's conceivable that sleep paralysis (at least in some cases) represents a jumbled mixture of sleeping / dreaming and waking / conscious states where the person is temporarily stalled between full wakefulness and full sleep.

This jumbling can work in the opposite direction, too - i.e., when one dreams of waking up within a recursive dream and isn't really "awake on the physical / real plane." In that case the fear-inducing element isn't own-body paralysis, but rather recognition you've awakened somewhere other than your "real world." I posted an example of this back in 2007:

https://forums.forteana.org/index.php?threads/dream-thread-ii.30422/post-722578
 

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It's interesting what you say about lucid dreaming and sleep paralysis intersecting Enola. I've never suffered sleep paralysis, but last night I dreamed a semi-lucid dream, where I was trying to get into a school building, walking beside my daughter. It was like walking against a force field, I couldn't make forward progress at all. I was complaining to my daughter (in the dream) about not being able to walk forwards, at which point I partially became aware that I was dreaming. On waking I assume that my body was trying to walk, but that the processes of sleep were preventing me from moving, which was translating into my dream as not being able to walk.

I also frequently have dreams where I can't open my eyes...

So a sort of literal 'sleep paralysis' rather than the traditional sort. Must be responsible for all those 'running through treacle' dreams, too.
 

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In dreams - at least the ones I recall - I am always aware that I am dreaming. I also have a certain amount of control over events that take place within the dreams. Would that be classed as lucid dreaming?

Edit: Actually, I'm going to revise the former claim a little. Rather than always being aware I am dreaming, it's probably more accurate to say that at some point during the dream - often quite early on - I will become aware that I am dreaming.
 

EnolaGaia

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... I was complaining to my daughter (in the dream) about not being able to walk forwards, at which point I partially became aware that I was dreaming. On waking I assume that my body was trying to walk, but that the processes of sleep were preventing me from moving, which was translating into my dream as not being able to walk. ...
So a sort of literal 'sleep paralysis' rather than the traditional sort. Must be responsible for all those 'running through treacle' dreams, too.
Yep ... That's the sort of "mixed signals" perception I was trying to describe. You-as-mental-dreamer felt free to walk, but somehow you were picking up somatic feedback (from you-as-physical-sleeper) that you perceived as a hindrance or inability within the dream. If you've ever had a limb become temporarily non-responsive (e.g., it's "gone to sleep" or been "stunned" because of anaesthesia) it causes the same sort of dilemma. Mentally you're transparently "issuing commands" to move, but physically you're observing (or feeling) that little or nothing is actually happening as a result.
 

EnolaGaia

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In dreams - at least the ones I recall - I am always aware that I am dreaming. I also have a certain amount of control over events that take place within the dreams. Would that be classed as lucid dreaming? ...
I'd say "Yes." Those are the two canonical hallmarks of lucid dreaming - recognition you're dreaming and having some measure of control over things within the dream scenario.


Edit: Actually, I'm going to revise the former claim a little. Rather than always being aware I am dreaming, it's probably more accurate to say that at some point during the dream - often quite early on - I will become aware that I am dreaming.
The recognition that you're dreaming can occur anytime. I've sometimes realized I was dreaming because (e.g.) I did or caused something extraordinary within the dream. In other words, there have been times an unexpected level of control comes first, serving as a clue that I'm in "dream-world" rather than "real-world."
 

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Right - thanks for that, EnolaGaia.

I’ve never really taken a whole lot of interest in dreams, maybe as mine generally seem to be - with some exceptions - rather uninteresting/unedifying.

Not so long back though, I had a couple of experiences that gave me pause for thought.

Last November, during a break at work, I was chatting to a colleague who mentioned that she was attempting to train herself to dream lucidly, and further into the chat also told me that she had been led to believe that it is not possible to read in dreams.

I didn’t think much about it at the time, and wasn’t aware of that I’d paid much attention. However, that night I had a vivid dream in which I was visiting my mum after a trip away. When I asked what she’d been up to, she replied that not much had happened, apart from the fact that she had single-handedly thwarted a terrorist attack (yes, I know – but it was a dream…and you haven’t met my mother) and if I didn’t believe her then I could read all about it in the paper.

Ah, okay, I know what this is about – said lucid-dreamer-me, in a kind of mental voiceover to the action involving the me in the dream - This bit’s important – concentrate! So, as she slides the paper across the table and points to the story, lucid-dreamer-me makes a concerted effort to see if I can actually read her name in the print. And I can – albeit in a slightly jumbled form.

Next lunchbreak, now a bit more interested, I mention this dream to my colleague and the conversation continues, ending up with us talking about related matters like sleep paralysis, the Old Hag etc.

That night, I have another experience.

Around 04.00 I’m woken in my hotel bedroom by a noise which sounds exactly like someone snapping a pencil in half. There’s a moment or two when I try to work out where the sound’s come from, and then – while I’m still trying to work this out - someone lying next to me gets out of the bed. Although I don’t feel anyone touching me, I distinctly feel the shift in the mattress as the person sits up and swings their legs out of the bed, and then the release of pressure as they lift themselves up. The feeling is so real that it takes me a moment to remember that I’m on my own in the room. I kind of know and don’t know at the same time that I’ve dreamed the experience – I’m not panicked, but I do switch the light on, get up and check the bathroom, just on the off-chance.

I know the former incident is somewhat on a tangent to the subject of sleep paralysis – and the latter is kind of a reverse of the usual procedure – but it’s kind of stuck in my head; especially the call and response nature of daytime conversation and dream experience.
 
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Min Bannister

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Last November, during a break at work, I was chatting to a colleague who mentioned that she was attempting to train herself to dream lucidly, and further into the chat also told me that she had been led to believe that it is not possible to read in dreams.
I can read a bit in dreams, usually because I am reading a book and want to fall asleep but also want to keep reading. I am not sure why I bother though because it is obviously not what is written in the real book!
 

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I can read in dreams but sometimes the text is 'jumbled' and othertimes it seems to make sense in the dream but when I wake up remembering a phrase, it's utter nonsense.

I can't work mobile phones in dreams though, or turn on lights.
 

EnolaGaia

I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...
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I can read a bit in dreams, usually because I am reading a book and want to fall asleep but also want to keep reading. ...
I can read in dreams but sometimes the text is 'jumbled' and othertimes it seems to make sense in the dream but when I wake up remembering a phrase, it's utter nonsense.
I can't work mobile phones in dreams though, or turn on lights.
For more extensive discussion of these dream themes, see:

Reading In Dreams
https://forums.forteana.org/index.php?threads/reading-in-dreams.56086/

Light Switches In Dreams?
https://forums.forteana.org/index.php?threads/light-switches-in-dreams.23777/
 

Donna Black

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I remember going to see a doctor about sleep paralysis back in the 90s. She laughed and told me to drink Horlicks.
It still plagues me, her response and the condition.
 

IbisNibs

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Absolutely unfamiliar with Horlicks, so I looked it up. "Horlick's Infant and Invalids Food." Did your doctor think you were an infant or an invalid? No wonder you still feel plagued!
Sorry to hear you are still afflicted with sleep paralysis. The normal dose of it doesn't sound like much fun.
 
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