I’m tired, really bloody tired. No, I don’t have children and no, my life isn’t particularly stressful. I don’t have a ton of worries, well, at least nothing earth shattering, no ones dying, I have a roof over my head and I can afford to eat, drink and be fairly merry. But I’m still entitled to be absolutely fucking knackard sometimes.
The fear of sleep
For the longest time I was so easily able to fall asleep on the sofa. Almost every night, Adam would shake me awake and send me on my way. I would gracelessly ascend the staircase, fumble in the dark, trying to locate my bed and fall, oh so elegantly into my pit, falling deep into a wonderful slumber.
Just after my dad passed away, I developed real problems sleeping, every time I closed my eyes, I’d see such horrible things, I would often stare at my phone most of the night, until I fell asleep out of sheer exhaustion, slowly, overtime, I got better, my mind got better and my sleep went back to normal, until recently.
Sleep paralysis, was something I had never actually heard of until one night a few years ago, when I first experienced it. As horrifying as it was, it didn’t happen again and I put it out of my mind, however in the last 6 months, I have experienced sleep paralysis approximately 14 times, with the most recent occurrence at about 2am on Tuesday 14th November.
I woke up in a pool of sweat, I was so hot, feeling claustrophobic and completely wrapped up in my duvet, I saw something move on the ceiling, my eyes flashed to the dark figure, floating above my head, just to the right of the light fixture. I tried to move, but I couldn’t, I tried to speak, scream, anything, but I was numb. I knew exactly what was happening, so I closed my eyes and began to breathe, rationalising what was happening to me and telling myself that I was fine, ‘you’re fine, you’re ok, this has happened before, you will be fine!’
Finally I could move, but the figure was still there, it looked like a Jellyfish, but it couldn’t be, could it? On the ceiling? That’s ridiculous! The rational part of my brain concluded it must be a spider, so I ran to the light switch and flicked it on, I was suddenly jolted awake by the bright light, there was nothing there and I was completely and totally confused. I couldn’t really remember, why I was out of bed, or what I was doing and it took me a few minutes to recall what had actually happened. I climbed back into bed, looked everywhere incase the ‘Jellyfish’ had fallen onto my bed and eventually I fell back to sleep.
When I woke up the next day, I had completely forgotten about what had happened in the night, until Adam asked me about the Jellyfish and if I remembered, I did, it all came back to me and it was fucking horrible.
Medical Definition of Sleep paralysis
Sleep paralysis: A frightening form of paralysis that occurs when a person suddenly finds himself or herself unable to move for a few minutes, most often upon falling asleep or waking up. Sleep paralysis is due to an irregularity in passing between the stages of sleep and wakefulness.
The symptoms of sleep paralysis include sensations of noises, smells, levitation, paralysis, terror, and images of frightening intruders. Once considered very rare, up to half of all people are now believed to experience sleep paralysis sometime during their life. Sleep paralysis is not considered to be a sign of a serious condition, although it can be frightening.
Sleep paralysis occurs as a person is moving into or out of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, the deepest part of sleep. During REM sleep, the body is largely disconnected from the brain, effectively leaving the body paralysed. Sleep paralysis is the result of premature (or persistent) mind-body disconnection as one is about to enter into (or exit from) REM sleep.
Sleep paralysis occurs most often after jet lag or periods of sleeplessness that interrupt the normal REM patterns, or after changes in sleep patterns. It affects both sexes equally and occurs at all ages but is most common in teenagers. Medically, sleep paralysis is sometimes called waking paralysis, predormital (before-sleep) paralysis, postdormital (after-sleep) paralysis, and REM sleep atonia.
Medically reviewed by Martin Zipser, MD; Board Certified: Surgery
Is Sleep Paralysis a Symptom of a Serious Problem?
To put it simply, no. In most cases, sleep paralysis is simply a sign that your body is not moving smoothly through the stages of sleep. Rarely is sleep paralysis linked to deep underlying psychiatric problems.
Over the centuries, symptoms of sleep paralysis have been described in many ways and often attributed to an “evil” presence: unseen night demons in ancient times, the old hag in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and alien abductors. Almost every culture throughout history has had stories of shadowy evil creatures that terrify helpless humans at night. People have long sought explanations for this mysterious sleep-time paralysis and the accompanying feelings of terror.
Who Develops Sleep Paralysis?
Up to as many as four out of every 10 people may have sleep paralysis. This common condition is often first noticed in the teen years. But men and women of any age can have it. Sleep paralysis may run in families. Other factors that may be linked to sleep paralysis include:
Lack of sleep
Sleep schedule that changes
Mental conditions such as stress or bipolar disorder
Sleeping on the back
Other sleep problems such as narcolepsy or nighttime leg cramps
Use of certain medications, such as those for ADHD
How Is Sleep Paralysis Diagnosed?
If you find yourself unable to move or speak for a few seconds or minutes when falling asleep or waking up, then you may be experiencing sleep paralysis.
Check with your doctor if you have any concerns, or if your symptoms are affecting your sleep or day to day life. My doctor asked me to keep a sleep diary, to check for instances when I experienced any problems with my sleep and also to note down the time I went to bed/woke up and also when I experienced feelings of stress or anxiety, as feeling anxious often triggers my sleep paralysis.
I don’t enjoy feeling fearful of falling asleep and I certainly don’t enjoy feeling knackard all of the time, I have been on various prescribed medications, which have not only, not worked, but have also made me feel even more like a zombie, which is the exact opposite of how I want to feel.
Over time, I have taken myself off of various medications and found alternative ways to help with my sleep, which in all honesty, I haven’t been doing lately, which is why I’m having so many problems falling asleep, so I’ve decided to take action and look after myself, to ensure I avoid any ceiling Jellyfish in the future.
My tips and tricks
Exercise – I know, I know, exercise is bullshit, I for one, am only up for running if I’m being chased, but here’s the thing, its good for you! Up until recently, I went to the gym at least 3 times a week and was a member of a running club and I felt great! I was losing weight, getting healthier, feeling better about myself, making friends and sleeping like a young pup! (I never understood when people used the phrase, ‘sleeping like a baby’ Like, do they even sleep? I thought they just cried?) anyway, I digress, I felt fucking fabulous! But it is a truth universally acknowledged that when one part of your life starts going okay, another falls spectacularly to pieces and that is when the exercise regime went right out of the window and work took over, as per bloody usual! So here it is, numero uno, of my feel better, sleep better, plan of action:
– Start exercising again, you fat bitch.
Water – Just drink it, for fuck sake, I’m not banging on about this, because you’re not an idiot, are you? Drink the bloody water! The human body is made up of 50 – 75% water, without it, we do not function and that’s when things start going wrong! Things like our ability to sleep properly. I drink approximately three litres of water a day, on a good day, but I know I’ve been neglecting that lately. No, three litres is not too much, I’m not going to drown, are you going to dry up from lack of water? No, stop asking stupid questions, your skin will look shit and your liver and Kidneys will hate you, but you wont dry up, the same way, I wont drown. If you Google how much water you need to consume for your weight, height and activity level, you should easily find the answer.
-Drink more water!
Sleep aids – as I said I’ve been put onto prescription medication to aid my sleep, anxiety and in the past, even depression. I’m now off of all of these medications, because I didn’t want to be on them anymore and they made me feel like a zombie! I am by no means saying there is anything wrong with these types of medications, they helped me in my time of need, but I personally didn’t want to be reliant on them.
I’ve tried various herbal sleep aids and natural aids to help with anxiety, I couldn’t really tell you which of these work the best because at one point I was literally taking them all at once. There is a very helpful aisle in boots which stocks an array of sleep and anxiety aids, you can get drops for your tongue, pastels to chew, tablets, sprays, all sorts. Lately I have been using a sleep spray and roll on balm, to help encourage sleep, this one from this works, is a cute little combo of a spray for your pillow, which is supposed to be calming and also a roll on balm, for your pulse points, for when you’re feeling a bit stressed, I believe the oils are frankincense and eucalyptus, but I’ve lost the box, so I may be wrong, but anything like this is really helpful, I also find diluted lavender oil sprayed onto my pillow is very relaxing and helps me fall asleep.
– Use more sleep aids
Other people – Don’t let other peoples issues creep into your life, if someone has an issue, or is causing unnecessary drama in your life, try not to sweat it, try to remember, its their problem, not yours, its not up to you to make everyone else feel good, especially when you’re feeling like shit, yourself! Obviously be a good person and help out people when you can, just don’t let people walk all over you and don’t put other peoples stresses onto yourself. To quote a quote that Adam stole from someone else – ‘Don’t set yourself on fire to keep other people warm’.
– Step away from the drama
ASMR – Finally I wanted to talk about something, I use every single day without fail before I fall asleep. You’re going to think I’m a nutter now, but stay with me, I am an OG ASMR watcher. I know what your thinking, ‘what the fuck is ASMR?’ or ‘ASMR is so creepy’ and yes, you’re partially correct, but if you have tried everything else and you’re on the verge of knocking yourself out just to get a decent bloody nights sleep, then you’ll try anything and Im so glad I did! Honestly, the best part of my day now, is laying in bed, putting in my headphones and finding one of my favourite ASMR videos to watch, or even just listen to.
Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is a term used for an experience characterised by a static-like or tingling sensation on the skin that typically begins on the scalp and moves down the back of the neck and upper spine. It has been compared with auditory-tactile synesthesia. I don’t really get the tingly sensation, but I do find the videos relaxing and they nearly always send me off to sleep. Generally I wake up with headphones tangled around my neck, so there is a partial risk of death, but for a cracking nights sleep, I’m willing to take my chances.
Here is a link to a video, with a short explanation of what ASMR actually is and also a few of my favourite ASMR artists, its weird at first, but give it a chance, especially if you’ve tried everything else.