Sleep Paralysis & Lucid Dreaming
Ever woken up and have not been able to move? Did you react or respond?
Sleep Paralysis is a protective mechanism that prevents you from acting out your dreams. Though usually unnoticed, it happens every time you go to sleep, making it a sleep disorder for some, but for the initiated...a gateway into lucid dreams.
Let’s go over what causes awareness within sleep paralysis, how to stop sleep paralysis if desired, and how one can harness this state to enter lucid dreams.
What Causes Sleep Paralysis?
To put it simply, a fundamental cause of sleep paralysis is REM atonia. REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement, the stage of the sleep cycle responsible for normal and lucid dreams. Atonia is the lack of muscle tension.
As you fall asleep, the electrical nerve impulses from your brain to your voluntary muscles are temporarily disconnected. This allows you to do the same motions in your dreams without the same motions being acted out in your waking life.
Being aware as your body falls asleep, you may begin to feel sensations of your voluntary muscles disconnecting, this is typically described as feeling heavy, like a lead blanket is on top of you, a tingling in the body, a heavy chest, with your breathing slowing down into more shallow sleep breathing.
Typically when people wake up or find themselves in sleep paralysis, their first reaction is fear. They set themselves up for a bad trip and could end up having very realistic nightmares. The borderline sleep state prompts the mind to dream up a nightmarish reality because of the fear influencing the dream state. When you find yourself in sleep paralysis it's very important to respond from a calm and clear state, that way you can disable it or use it to have lucid dreams.
It can be easy to become aware of sleep paralysis when falling asleep consciously or after waking up. There are two types of sleep paralysis people typically experience: Spontaneous and induced.
Spontaneous sleep paralysis: One finds themselves unexpectedly in sleep paralysis. You can either choose to stop sleep paralysis or attempt to enter into a dream.
Induced Sleep Paralysis: One purposefully induces sleep paralysis for lucid dreaming or meditation.
How To Stop Sleep Paralysis
As we've said before, sleep paralysis is limited to your voluntary muscle system, such as your arms and legs. Your breathing is semi-voluntary, so even in deep states of paralysis you can control it.
When you're asleep and in sleep paralysis, your body uses a specific sleep breathing pattern. If you enter sleep paralysis and decide you want to exit it and wake up, simply change your breathing pattern to something other than your body's default sleep breathing pattern.
Effective ways to do this are to begin breathing very deeply and slowly or try holding your breath (kumbhuka). After that, try wiggling your fingers and toes, moving your eyes, and moving your facial muscles. This will completely awaken you from sleep paralysis.
How To Use Sleep Paralysis to Lucid Dream
Inducing sleep paralysis to lucid dream is basically the same technique as Wake Induced Lucid Dreams (WILDs). When you're in sleep paralysis you're already in a borderline sleep state, you just lack the full immersion of dream sensations. If you relax and surrender to the paralysis, then turn your attention inward, hypnogogia will eventually appear, and there you will have the opportunity to enter into a lucid dream.
Read Wake Induced Lucid Dreams (WILD) Technique for a more detailed description of how to enter a lucid dream through sleep paralysis and keep on Livin’ Lucid Dreams...