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    Thread: Sleep Paralysis Explained

    1. #1
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      Some of the staff, and long-term DreamViews members, believe that a serious misunderstanding regarding Sleep Paralysis (SP) has become a huge stumbling block for new lucid dreamers. This misunderstanding centers on two things: First, SP has been incorrectly defined across the forums; second, a widespread belief, based on faulty definitions, that SP is a unique and threatening event that must be reached in order to WILD. Neither is true. Due to this widespread confusion, we’ve found ourselves answering more questions about SP than nearly anything else. This guide was written in response to that problem.


      The main point we wish to make, is just this! Sleep paralysis may occur to some people while attempting a WILD, but is not a required part of the WILD experience. If you get it, we want you to know what you are experiencing; if you do not, don't worry about it, you can still learn to WILD with the best of them!
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      "Instruction in Dream Yoga"

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      First, what is SP (Sleep Paralysis)?

      The simplified version: The true meaning of the term is a certain medical condition which affects the ability to wake up or go to sleep properly. People with this condition feel as if they are trapped while either going to sleep or waking up. They have almost no strength to get up and often have a fearful experience. Sleep Paralysis is a medical condition refered to as a parasomnia .



      A more scientific version:
      • Sleep paralysis is a REM sleep parasomnia characterized by an inability to perform voluntary movements associated with marked anxiety and occurs either at sleep onset (hypnagogic form) or on awakening (hypnopompic form).
      • Sleep paralysis attacks last some minutes, do not involve respiratory and ocular muscles, are fully reversible, and often are accompanied by terrifying dream images.
      • Sleep paralysis may form part of the narcoleptic tetrad, but isolated sleep paralysis occurs independently from narcolepsy, sometimes in a familial form.
      • Sleep paralysis is polysomnographically characterized by the presence of mixed REM-like and wake EEG or EMG features.Polysomnography, if performed, reveals the event to occur in a dissociated state with elements of REM sleep and wakefulness.
      • Hallucinatory experiences may be present but are not essential to the diagnosis.
      Info from post #1, here http://www.dreamviews.com/f11/sleep-...ations-136721/


      Actual SP is a condition affecting less than half of the population (7.6% general, more with sub-groups).


      Here is some data:
      Aggregating across studies (total N=36,533), 7.6% of the general population, 28.3% of students, and 31.9% of psychiatric patients experienced at least one episode of sleep paralysis. Taken from post #2, here http://www.dreamviews.com/f11/sleep-...ations-136721/
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      "Instruction in Dream Yoga"

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      Dr. Stephen LaBerge, a man well known for his clinical research into lucid dreaming, and co-author of the book “Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming”, wrote the following article: http://www.dreamviews.com/f11/laberg...alysis-136535/

      Some of us have reason to believe this article may be the very origin of the current confusion surrounding Sleep Paralysis. If you haven’t already, please take a minute to read it over.

      To summarize: in the article Dr. LaBerge discusses Sleep paralysis and its effects. He attempts to reinforce the idea that the experience is not to be feared, as it is a rare event. Dr. LaBerge also suggests that based on one man’s experience, a subject stuck in SP may be able to transition into a lucid dream. That postulation is quite probably the source from which today’s prevalent misunderstanding arose.
      Well meaning people took that special case at face value, and guides insisting that SP was the gateway to WILD (Wake Initiated Lucid Dream) began popping up like wildflowers. Unfortunately this is not useful at least half of us.
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      "Instruction in Dream Yoga"

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      Because it is a condition effecting less than half of the population, it should not be the focus of WILD attempts for the majority of the population. If however you do experience SP, methods exist to use it. Do not try to reach it or even think about it in general, unless you have experienced it, then look into it more.


      Of course, the primary factor perpetuating the term’s misuse lies with people on dreaming forums, such as this one, trying to explain how to correctly achieve a WILD. When people join the forum they often say, ”Someone told me I had to reach SP.” Someone would reply, ”You do not reach a point when you cannot move. SP is what stops your sleeping body from acting out dreams.” That is not actually true. The actual process that prevents you from jerking around in bed, during a dream is properly called REM Atonia. The LDing community has been improperly calling REM Atonia by the wrong name (SP), and we should make a collective effort to cut it out.
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      "Instruction in Dream Yoga"

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      Here is why we talk about REM atonia (incorrectly calling it SP.)

      First, people who do experience SP can use methods to convert it to a WILD. This will not work for everyone. Second, In a WILD you are attempting to stay aware while your body falls asleep. You will be able to experience the stages of sleep and one event you can sometimes experience is REM Atonia. Some methods of WILD use this as a mile post in the WILD process. In these methods awareness of REM atonia is used to show when to start active visualization. Finally, we need new WILDers to know it is nothing to fear if it happens to them.
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      "Instruction in Dream Yoga"

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      So what does REM Atonia mean?

      It is a change in chemicals and brain function that causes your body to remain still while you dream. People are experiencing awareness during sleep of a normal nightly process. Some people can actually feel the chemical change begin. It may feel like you are not connected to your body and many people describe it as a heavy-blanket feeling. It may feel like you are on narcotics.
      To add to the confusion, some people (like Sivason, Sageous, and Gab) can easily overcome REM atonia and even move freely during it (risking waking up however), while others find they actually are truly unable to move. You may or may not find that being aware during REM atonia prevents conscious movement. The fact that some LDers can move during REM atonia, is another reason not to call it Sleep Paralysis.
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      "Instruction in Dream Yoga"

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      Here is what six well known members and staff have to say in support of you all not worrying about SP and moving on to some useful material.


      NOTE: Unless you actually do already experience SP on your own
      Last edited by sivason; 10-10-2012 at 12:17 AM.
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      First, I have had many thousands of WILD's, and never once cared about SP, much less looked for it. No one should.

      SP is not a mystical or unusual event by any measure because REM Atonia happens naturally every time you are in REM -- it must occur, or else we’d all be flailing about in our beds, or sleepwalking, or shouting, or … well, you get it. That you are consciously aware of it because it remained switched on a bit too long or switched on early does not make it special, unless you consider your ability to defy nature and notice it as something special -- which is a pretty cool thing, I suppose.

      SP is also not a goal in WILD. Let me repeat that: SP is not a goal in WILD. One more time for the back rows: SP is not a goal in WILD! You should never, ever, be trying to “achieve SP” if your ultimate goal is lucid dreaming. To do so is to elevate a normal condition of sleep to a point where it is all you pay attention to and then, invariably, your chances of Lucid Dreaming will fade behind the empty excitement of SP.

      It is critical for WILD that you understand that SP is not dangerous; it is not an invasion by monsters or your body failing you or a break from reality, or any of the other things noted on the forums by breathless dreamers who encounter SP unprepared. It is just a natural bodily function that you happen to notice because you possess waking awareness at a time when nature never intended you to be awake. So if you ever encounter SP (I rarely do) just relax, acknowledge it, and move on!

      Most of the time SP isn’t really even SP: People who are talking about their experiences in SP are really talking about their experiences in NREM sleep, which can include the vibrations, sensory deprivation, and other assorted bells and whistles associated with SP these days. This is sort of a shame, because consciously navigating NREM sleep is an adventure unto itself (and, BTW, the place the Tibetan sleep yogis like to visit) and to belittle it by calling it SP is to miss out on an otherwise good thing.
      Last edited by sivason; 10-08-2012 at 10:42 AM.
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    9. #9
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      I have had 36 WILDs and 20 DEILDs and many more attempts. In 10 months I have never experienced any full body paralysis (SP) when WILDing.

      Any sensation you are experiencing during your WILD attempt is a part of the falling asleep process. You can feel vibrations, floating feeling, sounds, acceleration, your body being distorted, heaviness and being relaxed.

      It happens every time but we normally don't notice it because by then we are asleep. Lucid dreamers going for a WILD notice it because they stay conscious and aware during the falling asleep process.

      SP is something you either experience or not. Most people don't so waiting for it or making it a certain point in your attempt that you need to get to, or get past, or experience, is detrimental.

      If you have not experienced SP while falling asleep normally then you are quite unlikely to experience it during a WILD attempt.

      It makes no difference if you experience SP or not, or if you think you have/have not experienced it. You just go through your WILD attempt, until you enter your dream lucidly.

    10. #10
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      I have used the term SP incorrectly in the past to describe a state where the WILDer experiences the chemical changes of REM Atonia. In my method of WILDing you observe the progress of your sleep, and when you feel REM Atonia, you shift what your mind is doing. Many people call REM Atonia SP, but I intend to never use the term SP to describe it again. It is not hard to type out 'REM Atonia' instead of SP. Using the term SP causes everyone to become confused. I use a system that does require awareness of REM Atonia, and I will continue to teach it, but let’s all stop calling it SP.
      In my WILDs, for instance, when I experience REM Atonia, I change my mindset from an anchor (counting, mantra) to trying visualization to induce a dream. People just started calling it SP. Again, it is using the term incorrectly and adds to the confusion. Let’s all agree to stop using the term as it just complicates everything.

      By learning what each part of your sleep feels like you can improve your chances of pulling off a WILD. If you are reading a tutorial from now on I suggest you take the term SP to mean REM Atonia or awareness that such a state has been reached. That is unless it involves you supposedly being able to start moving in a dream, because you are supposedly paralyzed; I would laugh those off and find a new tutorial altogether, if it mentions that kind of stuff. It is only going to work for 1 in 250 of us.

      I have successfully been using WILD methods for over 20 years, but on no occasion have I been even slightly paralyzed! I sometimes feel as if moving would be hard but that is a natural feeling because my body has fallen asleep. I can always get my body to move if needed. Do not worry about SP and move on to some training that actually works. Unless you were experiencing SP before you wanted to learn lucid dreaming, you will probably never experience it and can forget about it.

      Please stop using the term SP and forget the idea entirely! You will not ever reach actual SP, so let's move forward, leaving the days of SP confusion behind us. Call REM Atonia by its true name, describe what you mean if it is not REM Atonia you have been using SP for, or coin a phrase that you can use instead.
      Peace Be With You. Oh, and sure, The Force too, why not.



      "Instruction in Dream Yoga"

    11. #11
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      In all my WILD attempts, I’ve yet to witness 2 similar experiences. I’ve experienced many phenomenoms, like loud noises, body sensations, awareness shifts, progressive numbness, but never Sleep Paralysis. It’s important to notice that since you’re falling asleep, it’s only normal that your brain ends up interfering with your senses in order to prepare you for a dream, and if you shift into one while being conscious, the whole process can be accompanied by many different events. The crucial thing to a successful WILD however is remembering its most basic definition: falling asleep…consciously. In order to do that, you need to relax, ignore any disturbances around you, and simply fall asleep.
      If anything, Sleep Paralysis is something that makes it harder for you to fall asleep, since it puts you in alert for something which won’t happen just because you’re trying to lucid dream. In the end, the closer a WILD resembles a person falling asleep naturally, the better the technique was executed.
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    12. #12
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      A lot of people on this forum have reported that they have experienced the feeling that they can't move their body when they try to WILD. I'm pretty sure the majority of them have Isolated Sleep Paralysis (Body won't move while in NREM either waking or going to sleep, and if a person tries to move it's going to take everything in that persons will to break out of it. Also, that person DOES NOT have any other sleep disorders) which is true SP. When this happens, HH and HI can occur, but doesn't define it, and that's where a lot of people get things mixed up.

      A WILD is a very hard technique for the great majority because of the discipline involved. However, people with isolated sleep paralysis (the population who have had the feeling where they can't move at all when they're going to sleep or waking up numerous times in their lives without attempting a WILD) tend to have an advantage. They know exactly how far they are in a transition because ISP acts as a good indicator to where they are in their phase, because it generally carries over and becomes REM Atonia.

      The moderators can try to all limit the amount of inaccurate information out there, but it's best that the knowledgeable people who care about this subject take a stand. I'm going to address the people who've actually gone through it (paralysis), and make sure that what they know has happened to them wasn't something that's all in their heads. The bottom line is that a handful of people actually experience the inability to move while trying to WILD. They also experience it while trying to go to sleep and wake up.


      Tutorials that mention SP often do not say, "hey is this is a WILD guide for people who suffer from isolated sleep paralysis" No...most of the time they generalize that "SP" is the next step. So that part has to be taken out or rewritten. It's the very reason why this thread was created in the first place. To address false information, and have it corrected and deleted. So the misinformed people who look at things will be enlightened along with the people who haven't read a single tutorial.


      When I initially started out, I would wait solely for the onset of ISP to kick in because I could feel it. Like I said...it's a great indicator of when it's go time. I would just ride it out, and when it stopped. I would get out of my bed and literally be in the dream. Unfortunately, it doesn't work all the time. Over time, I noticed some of my WILDs didn't involve ISP whatsoever. That's when I began to differentiate the two. It could also the reason why a lot of people get caught up in talking about "waiting for sp". There have been many instances where I've gone through the transitional phase and sat there in darkness, because I was waiting for ISP. What I should have been doing is getting up out of bed and RCing.


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      I get true paralysis (ISP) all the time...there's a "sp*" tag in my DJ...sometimes HH/HI happen with them. I've been getting it all my life, and the basic thing that happens is I'm either falling asleep, or waking up and suddenly I can't move. I can open my eyes, but that's about it. My heart feels like it speeds up, and I feel like I can't breathe. Anxiety, caffeine and bad sleeping habits increase my frequency of having them. I have turned SP into WILDs, sometimes SP shows up randomly when attempting a WILD, and rarely I'll have a normal WILD without SP.

      I have turned random SP episodes into WILDs by simply relaxing through it, and visualizing the scene or simply getting out of bed, when everything is over. The visualization part helps relieve some of the crazy things that go on during the 2-3 minute time frame that it happens, and it also, helps start a scene in a different location. Since everyone's eyes can open during SP the dreamer is more likely to have the dream start out in there room.



      http://www.dreamviews.com/f41/verdic...0/#post1942590



      I don't know how much of my success is dependent on SP itself. All I generally endorse when people ask me about WILDs (that doesn't seem to be mentioned in guides) is to have a consistent sleep schedule...IE if a person wakes up at 7AM during work/school, they need to do that every day including their days off so their sleep phases are close to textbook as possible for WBTBs. That and practice DILDs as a backup (roughly I have a 50/50 DILD/WILD ratio in over 300 lucids)

      In closing I think the "sp" stuff people normally bring up, is just a transitional phase (HI, HH bells and whistles) before the dream starts. However, some people are really experiencing ISP during that occurrence, and that needs to be addressed.

    13. #13
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      How I WILD, by OpheliaBlue

      When I have the privilege of inducing a lucid dream directly from a waking state (WILD), the transition isn't very long or particularly eventful. There are some things that are noteworthy, so I'll explain how it works for me.

      When I WBTB, usually around 7am, I stay up for 10-15 minutes before going back to sleep. Provided I got enough sleep prior, and there are no noisy distractions, I'll get drowsy again pretty quickly. The first thing I feel that signals that I'm about to have a WILD experience (as opposed to just immediately crashing), is I will feel soft vibrations in my hands, arms, and my face and head. I'll hear distortions in sounds as well. I have a fan that stays on all night for white noise, and it will start sounding funny. Like someone stuck a piece of paper in it and makes a racket. On rare occasions, I've heard voices, screaming, even a car crash! And at other times instead of vibrations, I felt another body on me or next to me. Since I was still aware, I knew it was nothing scary. Just physical and audio hallucinations that my brain is creating as I transition into sleep.

      I think this is where alot of people get freaked out, because they either see/feel/hear strange things, even feel paralyzed. But they're all normal stages the body goes through when you drift off to sleep. It's just that now, as you or I maintain awareness while WILDing, all these normal transitions are more obvious. I personally don't feel paralyzed when I WILD. It's happened to me a couple times when I was younger and waking from a nightmare, so I can see how it would seem scary. And some folks feel this paralysis every time they attempt a WILD. But I can tell you from experience, that I don't feel paralysis when transitioning. I just go from vibrations, to hearing the fan sounding funky, to imagining a dream scene, then opening my dream eyes into an LD.

      Some members have reported that they actually feel paralysis while WILDing, but don't get the vibrations. So it really depends on the person. I doubt there is any ONE way for a WILD to work, without any deviations whatsoever. All the different experiences people mention when they WILD are just guidelines to follow, they're not set in stone. You have to find your own way. The journey is pretty exciting actually, because it is unique to you. And once you find your way, you'll be able to help others find their way as well.
      Last edited by sivason; 10-10-2012 at 12:17 AM.
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