What is Sleep Paralysis or Isolated Sleep Paralysis?

(From "Relationship Between Isolated Sleep Paralysis and Geomagnetic Influences: A case study" -Perceptual and Motor Skills, 80, 1263-1273)

"The isolated sleep paralysis event occurs most often at sleep onset. An individual, even though aware and maintains that he is awake, is atonic, and has great difficulty moving. This atonic state is similar to the atonia experienced during REM sleep. This experience also may produce great anxiety and fear, while the individual struggles to "wake up".

Individuals who experience sleep paralysis often report concurrent hypnagogic hallucinations. A commonly reported hallucination is the feeling of a presence or entity in the room in which the individual sleeps. At times this presence may seem threatening and evil giving rise to the folklore belief of the "night-mare," the "old hag," and the "incubi" ".

Variety of somatosensory, vestibular and other phenomena accompanying isolated sleep paralysis (SP) and lucid dreaming (LD)

(Also from "Relationship Between...Perceptual and Motor Skills, 80, 1263-1273)

"Exosomatic, but affecting the body

Waves, vibrations and earthquake-like tremors (SP).


Crackling, snapping, high-pitched, ringing (hours preceding and/or during SP) and booming noises (SP); great richness of sound quality, specifically in music (LD).


Luminous blobs, auras, perception of objects and details of wall crevices and bed lining fabric (SP); vibrant and surreal colors (LD).

Sleep Paralysis

Complete or partial atonia.


Rotation of the body (pivot: the belly area), twisting of the body, rolling into oneself. Also, pressure on different parts of the body, but most commonly the belly area; floating, flying and being squeezed through tunnels (all SP).

Microsomatognosia: Shrinking in size (SP).

Dissociation: Out-of-the-body experiences (SP and LD).

Hypnagogic hallucinations; Nightmare

Presence in the room, benign or maleficent; sense of suffocation; sense of entity sitting on one's chest; sense of entity pulling one's feet (more common than incubus) (SP).


Bolt of lightening exploding at the base of the neck, pain in the midsection (SP)."

Events likely to trigger SP in susceptible individuals ( from my personal log entries and research )

Fatigue, anxiety, intensive meditational practices, radical changes in daily routine ( vacations, moving, job changes, etc. ) and abrupt changes in the ambient geomagnetic field.

Dealing and coping with the SP experience and associated events

Whether Sp is an occasional or frequent sleep experience, overcoming the tremendous and overwhelming fear associated with atonia ( paralysis ) may be a real obstacle to using SP as a 'launching pad'to LD. Some of this fear can be appeased by the knowledge, the conviction, that one always wakes up! Breathing in a calm, relaxed fashion and willing movement of small body parts such as the eyelids and/or toes and fingers usually helps the dreamer to awake. Sometimes an SP experiencer can arrange with his/her sleeping partner that in the event the partner hears muffled cries or senses body movements, he/she can awaken the dreamer, thus jolting him/her from the paralytic state. Since repeated occurrences are the norm within a relatively short, nighttime period, changing sleeping positions ( for example, from laying on one's back to a belly down or sideways posture ) often allows the SP experiencer to return to normal REM sleep, to less conscious REM sleep.

If one is willing to experiment a little with the atonic sate, one can, for example, control the initial fear and impulse to force awakening by focusing attention on the area around the navel. Doing this allows the sleeper to retain some control and consciousness while he/she moves into a LD.

Personal note

Whether one wishes to employ the techniques mentioned above or not, the SP event can be a prelude to controlled LD and a richer dream experince. Personally, I am equally interested and marveled by the subjective experiences gained by these states of consciousness as I am by their pragmatic/scientific potential and value. I have been an SP (and LD) experiencer since my early teens and I must say that in time, one learns to overcome most if not all of the anxiety associated with the paralysis and is able to enter a new dimension of dream experience - richer and more creative than that of the average dreamer. It is a contradiction that a dream paralytic state can open the door to so much freedom. In the words of Erich Fromm, ( during dreaming ): "We are helpless - but we are also free." If you are lucky ( and persistent, courageous and calm ), the creative elements of your dream experiences will guide you through these journeys with insightful and practical advice.

" So the sleep existence, it seems, is only the extreme case of a purely contemplative experience, which can be established by the waking person if he ( she ) focuses on his ( her ) inner experience....In sleep, no longer exposed to the noise of culture, we become awake to what we really feel and think. The genuine self can talk: it is often more intelligent and more decent than the pseudo self which seems to be "we" when we are awake."

Erich Fromm, from The Nature of Dreams

I wish you safe, rich and revealing dream journeys.

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