REM paralysis

Hi Twanna—

Boy do I have good news for you! Your recurring dream of an intruder is not precognitive (you are not going to be attacked when your husband is away on business). Instead, your dream is easily explained by physical events that occur in the body during dreaming sleep.

The clinical name for your experience is “REM Paralysis.” Scientists have demonstrated that the brain sends commands for movement to our bodies when we dream—to move in accordance with our perceived needs in the dreamscape. The reason we don’t move around in our beds, however, is because these commands for movement are intercepted at the top of the spinal cord in the brain stem, and are not passed on to the motor nerves. During REM our bodies effectively become paralyzed, to protect our physical safety, and to preserve the continuity of sleep.

The lighter sleep that you experience when your husband is away (you do not sleep as deep, and sleep with “one ear open”), is causing you to occasionally feel this paralysis of your body during REM. Other common sensations during REM paralysis are pressure in the chest area, feelings that you are being held down or pushed into the bed, difficulty breathing or calling for help, and also feelings that you are elevating or levitating off the bed.

As you know from your experience, however, there never really is an intruder. Instead, feelings of restricted movement during sleep cause feelings of vulnerability, which are then translated into fears of attack. Because you are dreaming, these fears become represented as an intruder in the room or house, who is about to attack, while you remain paralyzed, unable to defend yourself—or to call for help.

The cure for “REM Paralysis” dreams is knowledge. The next time this dream happens, you want to remember that you are dreaming, and that there really is no intruder. To awaken yourself immediately from this dream, try wiggling a toe or finger—some small movement
that will break the “spell” of paralysis. Or, as you grow more comfortable with the dreams, simply try to relax and roll over for more sleep. Sleep paralysis is annoying, but one cure for it is to get a plenty of REM sleep, so that the body does not keep you trapped in REM—when the rest of your mind wants to awaken!

Back to original dream
Back to Sleep Paralysis page

To access our Dreamcast Library, log in, then click here.
Not registered? Click here.

It's free! No fees or subscriptions.