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We’ve been busy adding to our online resources. You can now view a video of selected clips from January’s screening and discussion event at London Short Film Festival.

The Sleep Paralysis Project at LSFF from Sleep Paralysis Project on Vimeo.

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You can also listen to a full recording of the event on Soundcloud.

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And of you fancy some nocturnally-themed music, you might enjoy the Spotify playlist from the event.

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Alongside this, our resident researcher Dan Denis has written a selection of new articles for the website. These look at the neurobiology and cultural and historical associations of sleep paralysis as well as offering guidance on management of persistent episodes. You can find these of the main website. The Project was also featured in Electric Sheep’s March online issue, alongside some brilliant articles and reviews related to sleep and film.

Some of the Project’s audio research materials were broadcast in a half hour radio show on Resonance FM. The show included discussion about the project and the phenomenon of sleep paralysis, as well as clips from interviews, music created for the short film and even a recreation of one interviewee’s typical auditory hypnogogic hallucination experience. You can hear a podcast of the radio show here.

Film still: miniature bedroom set

Film still: miniature bedroom set

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For email updates on the Sleep Paralysis Project, sign up here.

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22 thoughts on “Sounds, words and moving pictures online

  1. Thanks to Carla McKinnon, for posting this Hypnogogic Dream Paralysis program.

    I spent years being tormented with this problem. I have experienced the paralysis, molistation and out of body experience several times.

    It was always terrifying and once out of this predicament I would always get up and get a cup of coffee or glass of milk and set at my kitchen table for a long period of time. I would only return to bed when I felt like I could really get some sleep.

    I am a religious person and due to a regular nightmare one night in which I woke my self up by screaming the Lords Prayer. I started saying the Lords Prayer nightly since that time and have not been bothered except for a couple of times since.

    The out of body experience would be so real of being awake and out of the dream. However I would realize I was not really a wake when trying to turn on a light my hand would pass through the lamp. At this time I would immediately be snapped back into my body. Much like a rubberband pops back into shape after being stretched. Other times in out of body when I would realize I was still in bed would be my little 25 pound dog. I would see her and she would be a very large in size.

    I have over a period of years am now able to know when this is going to happen if I attempt to go further to sleep. At the back of my skull at the base it feels like a rubber band snapping. This is the best way I can describe it.

    I first heard of the Old Hag theory one evening while teaching one of my adult classes at my school from one of my students. We had taken a break and the ladies and I some how got around to talking about dreams. I brought up the dream as I called it to them of what was happening to me. After being told about the Old Hag I checked it out on the internet and then referenced in my Mercks Medical Manual about sleep paralysis. Their not being a cure for this problem I never mentioned it to my doctor for fear of being thought unbalanced or worse.

    I thank God for his help in stopping the dreams with his most powerful prayer, “The Lords Prayer”.

    Respectfully,
    Jo Anne Mackey
    jbmackey424@yahoo.com

  2. Carla, seeing your work on this subject and teaching people that they are not alone or losing their grip on reality meant a lot to me.

  3. Carla, I was/am so excited about your project. I’ve been in health care for 30 years and suffered horribly from SP. My genuis of a Nurse Practioneer have found a low dose drug that has stopped the episodes. The lucid dreaming/hypnogagic hallicinations were so terrifying, no amount of rationalization “this is a living dream, calm down, wait, relax, this will soon be over” stops the terror completely. I would love to know about what you plan to do after this film.

    • Marie, would you be willing to share what the low dose drug is? I, too, suffered hypnogagic/lucid dreams for years. After awaking my self up from a horrific dream/real dream screaming the Lords Prayer, early one morning.
      No doubt this was my subconcious working due to an incident that happened on my property which was very wooded and bordered by 30 ft. high bluffs.
      A satanic alter was found at the bottom of my bluffs just behind my home. My dog was killed and his flea collar was stretched out straight. Upon picking it up it naturally curled back up from being removed from his neck. The direction of the collar while on the ground pointed to circle of stones in the shape of an alter.
      Being in law enforcement I called my department and photo’s/reports were made. Culprits were never caught.
      After that incident I started praying the Lords Prayer nightly. With my strong faith in God it has eliminated 99% of the lucid dreams.
      I can tell after all these years when my body is about to go into a lucid dream and can normally stop it. The best way I can describe it is it feels like a rubber band snaps at the base of my skull.
      You are correct when you wrote that no amount of rationalization can eliminate the terror associated with and after these dreams.
      Respectfully,
      J. B. Mackey

      • Hi! I find the medication, called Elavil, 25mg. dose has stopped the PS totally. My first episodes started 1977 after my Dad died unexpectedly and I was so upset I couldn’t sleep for days. The first episode scared me terribly, I was a psych major in college and several professors helped me then. However, this is the first medication that has stopped it. What happens to me is so terrifying it makes Stephen King’s novel’s took childish. Feel free to contact me as often as you wish. I am so GLAD to help!! My docotor explained the chest pressure is normal. It is the brains response to reduce muscle action during sleep. Do NOT panic, that is #1, tell yourself this is a cross over of the sub-conscious door open, normal during sleep, but has slipped into a waking state, and these are actual dreams. Keep calm, and it will pass. Speak to medical professional about Elavil ins very low dose. If you ever want to speak to my doctor, she is working on a PhD and would love to contribute. So far I have gone 9 months free of ALL SP, a miracle I am so grateful for. Marie

      • Marie, thank you so much for the name of the medicine that stops your SP. I really appreciated your reply and offer of help. The Lords Prayer has helped me stop having the majority of SP, it is rare now for one to occur. I do take along with my Hypertension meds a .50 Xanax which lets me sleep peacefully. It is even rare to have a normal dream. I take the Xanax due to a high stress level that occurred when I wrote my educational program and had my vocational schoold. It broke out in a measle looking like rash which itched so bad it was horrible. The new doctor I had just started seeing just told me to purchase a Aveeno soak and it would go away. The next day I walked into his office unannounced. I had just been to the store for groceries and could hardly breath. I thought I was going to pass out before I reached my car. Being only a few blocks away from the physicians office I went straight there. I thought I had acute Bronchitis which I was prone to have occationally. He finally really looked at my chest and leggs and told me that it was the worse case of Urtercaria he had ever seen and my esophages was swelling closed. He said if I had waited one more day I would have been dead. Over the years I have tried so hard to slowly level off of the meds. I can go about 3 weeks and then it hits with a vengence. My doctor told me I probably would have to take them the rest of my life. Only one fierce breakout while being on the meds, which I only take half of what he prescibed to me. That was shortly after losing control of my car on ice one night about 8 pm on my way home from a family Christmas dinner. To keep from sliding into on coming traffic I managed to turn the wheel just enough and was sliding sideways up a major highway at about 70 mph. Once again I got the wheels slightly turned and aimed my car towards a field on the right side of the road towards a wooded area which had a half pie shaped clearing in it. I knew I was going to hit the trees head on. I closed my eyes and just as I seen this sign I was heading for and could not miss I put my hands over my face. Now here is the strange part. Without a thought in my mind as my Jeep was still traveling I felt my hands on the wheel and turning beneath my hands. When my vehicle stopped I was in the middle of the field and had obviously went sideways. The drivers side was covered in snow. Then and only then did I open my eyes. No traffic stopped to help me and when I drove out of the field back to the highway I retraced my tracks in the snow. The tracks went straight to the highway when they should have went towards the trees. I can not find that area since the accident and that was 2008 just a few miles from my home. BTW, lol, I do not drink. A week or two later I had the worse case of Urtecaria I have ever had. I broke out not only with the red dots but they came to a whitish type of head and I had welts all over my body. I had been backing off the Xanax at the time to 1 half of a milligram a day. It took me three weeks to get most of the way back to normal. I am suppose to take 3 mg. Xanax a day but manage with 1 to 1-1/2 now.
        I still sleep with my little dog which helps with the dreams also.
        Sorry writing such a long letter I just wanted you to know why I take a generic form of Xanax.
        Respectfully and God Bless You,
        Jo Anne Mackey

      • Hi! Sleep deprivation and anxiety/stress seems to be all triggers for an episode of SP. I’ve ALWAYS been a heavy dreamer, so this also seems to be part of the pattern. Xanax did not really help me that much, the Elavil does. It is is much cheaper and on 25. mg will also act like Xanax. I think the film offers alot of explanantions, but the triggers are the key. Reciting the Lord’s Prayer is helpful, but I am a person that wants to know the why, and then solve the problem. Please be patient when these happen. Know it is “normal” for you and it’s an active “dream” stage and crosses over into the conscious psyche. So glad your “accident” was not seriously and just down right scary and you were not hurt. Another thing that has helped was trying to keep to a bedtime schedule. If your brain is trained to sleep at certain times, this is a big plus as well. If you know you had a very stressful day, try to take the 1 hour before bed to relax, read a fun book, drink a glass of warm milk, wear loose Pj’s or night shirt and spray the pilllows and bed with lavender to help relax. LOOK at the pluses of your life, and try to tell yourself, compared to most people, you have a good life. Pets on the bed are a huge plus for me to stop the episodes when they seem so real and down right terrifying. Good luck & warm wishes, Marie, USA

    • Thanks for your interest Marie. Yes, it can be difficult to rationalise such an immediate experience at the time it’s happening! I’ll be finishing the short film and releasing more research materials in June, so hopefully you will find something interesting there too. It sounds like you’ve found a way of handling your SP, that’s great.

      • I am looking forward to your film and know several people that want to know when we can see it in USA. Please keep me informed. My doctor wants to know more about you, your work and the film. I have a Master’s in Psych and would like to contribute in any way that I can that would help others. This has been going on for 30 years with the episodes increasing the last 2 years because of life style changes and the stress of the economy and all the violence. I can’t see this being a plus and the more people I speak to, also have sleep issues. You may want to look at why narcotic sleep aids are the number 5 most prescribed drugs in the US, and more and more people are using pot and alcohol so they can get some sleep.
        There may be a connection to SP episodes and difficulty with sleeping as well. Just wish I had a ke to turn off my brain and just be able to sleep like I did as a kid.

  4. I have had 2 or 3 sleep paralysis episodes. I found myself reciting the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ also. It seemed to help concentrating on ‘praying’ rather than the shadows that I thought might be moving in the room. It was terrifying not being able to move. I had one night I awoke and saw a beautiful spirit floating in the room. She wore white clothes that looked like something I saw Native Americans wear. I didn’t want to move or even blink for fear it would disappear. She kept saying something that sounded like ‘a ron de con’. Sure enough, I looked slightly to the right and the vision was gone. I spent many hours trying to research ‘a ron de con’ but when I learned about sleep paralysis I considered that it wasn’t that I didn’t want to move.. I probably couldn’t move.. Once I did move I left that half dream/half awake state..

    • I am native american, Cherokee, Apache and Catawba mix with 1/4 French. lol Yes there had to be a Frenchman it was my dads mom who broke the bloodline. There are many dialects in the tribes, I will ask around and see if anyone knows the meaning of these words for you. I apologize for getting back to you so late. I will try not to let this happen again as I know personally what you are going through.

      • I don’t believe that it means anything in Native American language. I talked to a number of people of NA heritage and I looked for it myself on the Internet. I don’t know of any Native American language that has a word ending in a ‘con’.. Someone suggested that may be the name of someone this spirit (I believe I saw and heard) was looking for.. However, after reading about sleep paralysis, I now believe it was a ‘pleasant’ hallucination. As the video suggested I was in a state of half awake/dream.. It made sense to me after studying more about sleep paralysis..

    • In my case Noni, the choking feeling was not from the effort of trying to move. Before the Lords Prayer stopped these horrid half dreams, I found if I could manage to just a finger and touch something or someone next to me, it always broke the paralysis. When I was married my husband called me crazy. I have slept with my little Chihuahua I got after my div. That helped as much as he did and she was a snuggle bug. She was with me for 16 yrs until death I still have her baby boy which will be 14 this year. So you might try not only a prayer for your faith or try sleeping close to someone or your pet.

      • My sleep paralysis only happened during times of not being able to get enough sleep. I was either at a noisy motel or worried about something that cause me to stay awake through most of the night. The video supported this as a possible cause of sleep paralysis *for some*. I believe that there is no unseen force choking anyone during these events. IMO, If we are fearful that will effect what we see and hear. I remember reading that we can stop repeated nightmares by staying in bed and thinking of a ‘good’ conclusion to the nightmare. When it happens again, remember the good ending before getting up out of bed. Maybe sleep paralysis can be the same thing. You know what it is, you know it will stop, so try to change fear to calm. Our thinking is normally automatic.. But, I believe, we can change the automatic reaction to one of calmness with a bit of work..

      • I have had a few times in my life when I became aware of my body at night and was unable to breathe. Usually it has been for one of two reasons. One, my mouth is closed and my nose suddenly has stuffed up. Two, I have just gotten over a head cold so my nasal passages are swollen, and though I can breathe through my mouth fine, I cannot breathe easily through my mouth/nose together, and my body in a relaxed state has decided I will try to do so, so I am not getting enough air. In both situations, I cannot properly breathe, and unable to move, so cannot fix the problem.The times this has happened; I would feel my lungs wanting air, feel my diaphragm start to spasm, but be unable to do anything. A few times, I was sleeping with another person. He woke up when I stopped breathing and managed to wake me up. I was never sure what caused it, but remember wondering if it had anything to do with the angle of my head constricting my throat somehow, and if there could be any relation between what was happening and what is called SIDS in young children.

      • I am sorry you are going through this, however, this is not a hypnogogic dream state. This is more of a critical, just a feeling of mine is your situation. You really need to see first a ENT Specialist, definition, Ears nose and throat. Hypnogogic, is a state of being mentally awake yet not fully asleep. The melatonin the brain releases to prevent you from sleep walking causes a slight paralysis. Thus said, a person can have hallucinations and see things, feel, smell and a total sense of helplessness and fear. At this date there is no known cure. If there is I have not heard of it yet. The hypnogogic paralytic state does not match what you are experiencing. Your’s sound more like a medical problem and I strongly suggest you seek medical help asap. Please feel free to write me again as I am concerned and wish you the best.
        God bless you and you will be in my prayers. Your condition as I know it and I am not a doctor, is treatable.
        Respectfully,
        JB Mackey

      • JB, I have been on Elavil for 1 1/2 years (25 mgs.) before bed and the “night terrors” episodes have drastically reduce. The doctor s well aware of SP and using this drug as an off label treatment. I am very happy with this as the SP was happening bi-weekly and very scary even though I understand the psychological dynamics and why. YOUR film was wonderful and is spot on about SP.

  5. JB, I found having my cat(s) on the bed, still sleeping, assures me it is a SP episode and NOT me going insane, LOL. Mine starts with a loud hum, and gets louder, the bed starts to shake and move and then the “lucid” nightmares begin. I can’t speak or move, but force myself to talk mself out of it. The meds have stopped the episodes to date. Keep in touch.

  6. I have had this SP since 6yrs old falling off bunk beds trying to wake up. Been to sleep center, medicines prescribed made me feel like la la land the oxgen machine the have gave me didn’t help the situation. Still have episodes wife wakes me up when she hear me make noise try to get up. I seen posted talking about native Indians my grandfather suppose to be Indian is this something that could be inherited from there genes. Looking for answer that make since.

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