My Experiences With Sleep Paralysis

I’ve been struggling with sleep paralysis for about 10 years now. Some years, I’ve had no episodes. This year, it’s full of them.

I have to start off with the fact that this is not normal; if you have sleep paralysis, you should see a sleep specialist to help you through your journey. I will be doing a sleep study in the near future - that order coming from my psychiatrist.

I’ve dealt with a lot of trauma in my early adult years. Most of it went untreated, and this is why I believe, personally, I’m struggling with these episodes.

My service dog helps me

Some nights, I can be awoken fairly fast, some not at all. I’m in the midst of training a service dog, along with the help of our trainers, and she has been significantly helpful at waking me up from episodes and doing deep pressure therapy when I am awake but I can’t move.

I’m thankful I decided to pull the trigger on my choice to get a service dog, as I struggle significantly now with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

What sleep paralysis feels like

Some nights, the sleep paralysis lasts hours. I might even be awake for it, but I can’t verbalize, only groan or sometimes cry, but mostly silently. Some of these nights are the worst - because lately, I’ve also been getting muscle contractions all over my body, so the next day I am exhausted, in a lot of pain, and usually pretty useless. This is the worst part about insomnia. The pure exhaustion of not being able to sleep, or ever feel like you’ve gotten a useful night of sleep.

Some nights, I actively relive my old traumas when I experience these episodes. I open my eyes, but I’m in “another place.” Recently, I was having an episode and kept seeing someone else’s closets and other furniture I knew wasn’t mine or my boyfriend's. It was a PTSD dream/nightmare and thankfully my boyfriend woke me up and within a few minutes he got me out of the situation and I was able to freely move. Those are the roughest nights. Especially knowing I’m keeping someone else awake with my sleep issues.

Coping challenges

My first episode was when I was about 22 - so about 10 years ago. It happened when I was graduating from college during a very stressful time. I'm not sure I took these events as seriously as I maybe should have, but I'm glad I'm getting the help I needed then, now.

I have to admit, sometimes it's easier to go into a spare bedroom when I know I'm having a rough go with my sleep. I don't want to keep my partner up, as he works long and sometimes late hours, never knowing when he could be called back into work.

Looking ahead to my sleep study

I’m curious as to what the sleep study shows. I have episodes in places that have not been filled with traumatic events. I get little to no sleep to begin with, so to experience these and be even more exhausted (didn’t know that was a thing) is disappointing, frustrating, and talked about quite frequently among our living quarters.

Have you ever experienced any of these symptoms and what did it turn out to be? I'll be sure to keep you updated on what the findings are, if any.

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