Filmmaker seeks people with sleep paralysis experiences

741px John Henry Fuseli The Nightmare

Do you have experience with sleep paralysis? Many scientists believe that sleep paralysis is the biological answer to such mysteries as spirit visitations, alien abductions, incubi/succubi, and out-of-body experiences. My old friend Rodney Ascher, director of the excellent film Room 237 and other movies, is making a documentary about the phenomenon and would love to hear from you. Rodney writes:

I'm working on on a new film - it's about Sleep Paralysis, a surprisingly common phenomenon where people wake-up totally frozen from the eyeballs down, unable even to make a noise, and they frequently see sinister intruders and other disturbing visions. I've been obsessed with it ever since it used to happen with me (in my case, I saw sort of a living, 3D shadow looming over in me in judgement).

The film is going to be largely built on interviews with people who've had vivid, first-person experiences with it (and have given some serious thought to what's really happening to them) - if anyone wants to share their stories, the easiest way is to contact us via the film's Facebook page.

The Nightmare: A Nonfiction Film About An Unreal Experience

Notable Replies

  1. I get them several times a year. At first I freaked out but now I just let it happen. Weird noises, ominous presences, yep, that's it.

    If you think you're in a dream but aren't sure, you can usually tell by watching how ordinary things behave. Light switches don't work, windows aren't really transparent, you can breath underwater and my can levitate wink

  2. I had episodes of sleep paralysis frequently from around the age of 12 until I was about 27. My wife loves watching those ghost story shows on basic cable, but won't let me watch them with her because whenever anyone talks about seeing a ghost while in bed during the middle of the night, I scream out, "It's just sleep paralysis!"

  3. I actually look forward to sleep paralysis events. If you can get past the panic, and the ensuing sense of presences, then you can jump straight into lucid dreaming. It's like a lucid dreaming free pass.

    I theorize the malevolent "presences" that you experience are simply a very deep and limbic response to the terror of waking and finding yourself paralyzed and trapped in a familiar yet haunting dream landscape. The presences are not at all unlike the feelings of dread and inexplicable and troubling emotions you feel after a traumatic event -- as if the traumatic event has an almost "demonic" quality or face to it (that's how the base mammalian brain logs very serious and dangerous predators and chains of events in memory, by assigning malevolent agency to them).

    If you just tell yourself when you wake up in the dream not to panic, don't scream out, just relax into it, then you will circumvent the whole incubus phase. Then you can ask yourself, where do I want to go? Should I try swimming through the air and out the window, should I explore this place a little. Or you can just close your eyes and relax and fall back into the prickly blackness of sleep.

  4. I used to think I suffered from sleep paralysis, but then it turned out to just be a run-of-the-mill case of extraterrestrial sexual experimentation.

    I'm pretty sure they lost interest around the time I started getting crows' feet and my back hair started growing in thicker.

Continue the discussion

26 more replies