5 Creative Ways I Manage Sleep Paralysis
Last updated: April 2023
There are few things more terrifying than the nightmares, hallucinations, and sleep paralysis that can plague people with narcolepsy. Before I was able to start medication to treat these symptoms, they were terrible.
I remember waking up from a deep sleep confronted by Pennywise, the dancing clown from the movie "It." I was frozen, helpless, as he took a big bite out of me. I felt everything.
To this day, I still get the creeps whenever I see Pennywise!
How I reduce episodes of sleep paralysis with narcolepsy
I am currently medicated enough to reduce these symptoms, but they can still pop up sometimes.
Here are 5 creative strategies I use to help myself not get sleep paralysis or scary hallucinations.
1. Being careful about what I watch
The old adage says, "You are what you eat." The media we consume can impact our mental states, for better or worse.
When I notice that I am in a period where I am having more nighttime hallucinations, nightmares, or sleep paralysis, I am very careful about what I watch. I try to avoid horror movies, especially, during these times. It can be difficult for me to do, because I am a huge fan of horror!
Most of the time it is fun to watch movie producers try to make movies scarier than what I’ve seen in my narcolepsy nightmares. But sometimes their creepy characters star in my dreams – and I can’t have that!
2. Sleeping on my stomach
I started sleeping on my stomach when my narcolepsy onset due to the amount of terror I felt while having sleep paralysis and being able to see everything in the room (good or bad) while experiencing it. Seeing more of my surroundings allows my brain to have more material to work with, so to speak.
When I sleep on my stomach, I not only experience fewer episodes of sleep paralysis, but they are also less scary, because my stomach and chest feel safe against the mattress and I can see less of the room around me.
3. Facing the wall
Similarly to sleeping on my back, sleeping facing towards the wall blocks off the rest of the room from my sight. This keeps me from being able to see creepy stuff around me... because I can’t see around me!
Hallucinations turn into floating visions by the wall, rather than full-blown apparitions in the room. It is easier to tell what is reality and what isn’t.
4. Cleaning my room every night
Every night before bed, I take a look around my room for piles of laundry, boxes, or other lumps that might resemble a human silhouette.
If I see anything that could be mistaken for a human shape, such as something sitting in a chair or a jacket being hung from a hook, then I remove it from my space. This keeps them from transforming into creepy human forms when I am hallucinating during the night.
5. Sleeping with a furry friend
I sleep with my German Shepherd every night. She is trained to wake me up from nightmares (if I make enough noise). But just knowing she is in the room can help me feel safe. Nothing is worse than having nighttime hallucinations without a real, warm body by your side to keep you comfortable!
How do you manage your sleep paralysis or nighttime hallucinations?
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