Hypnosis for Sleep Paralysis
Discover In-Depth Hypnotherapy Treatments for Sleep Paralysis
If you think you are alone with sleep paralysis - you are not. According to studies, 8 - 60 percent of the general population experience sleep paralysis at least once in their lives, while an estimated 5 percent experience sleep paralysis on a regular basis. But what is sleep paralysis? Sleep paralysis is a transient, conscious state of involuntary immobility occurring immediately prior to falling asleep or upon awakening. In other words, it is a state in which your mind is seemingly “awake” while your body is still asleep - causing you to experience conscious muscular paralysis (as opposed to unconscious muscular paralysis, which happens naturally during the REM stage of sleep). This paralysis occurs during the REM stage to prevent you from acting out body movements from your dreams during your sleep. Although it may appear that you are fully awake during sleep paralysis - you are, in fact, in an altered state of consciousness. This is why many people experience hallucinations during sleep paralysis. At Hypnosis Berlin, we have developed specialized treatment plans to help people with sleep paralysis and all the fears and questions arising from their experiences with sleep paralysis. On this page you will find an overview of relevant information.
Sleep Paralysis Symptoms
How to recognize sleep paralysis
Since most people don’t get sleep paralysis regularly, it can be very confusing and disorienting when it does occur. Sometimes it can be confused with a peculiar dream or even be shoved aside as figments of our imagination. In other cases, the experience can be so intense that it becomes almost impossible to mistake it with a dream. If your experience took place in a setting that didn’t look like your room or a room you slept in, and if different scenes followed in rapid succession, it’s a good indication that you were dreaming and didn’t experience sleep paralysis.
The most recognizable physical symptom is the inability to move, usually paired with the sensation of being awake and aware of lying in bed in a room. Other physical symptoms include sensing pressure on the chest, difficulty breathing, panic attacks
, a heightened sensitivity to touch (e.g., feeling the fabric of the blanket and weight of the blanket more intensely), a slight buzzing or vibrating sensation throughout the body, a heightened intensity or clarity for visual and auditory perception, and tactile (physical/touch) hallucinations. Additionally, out-of-body experiences and floating sensations can occur, such as the feeling of levitating a few inches above the mattress.
Psychological symptoms include all forms of hallucinations that can occur alongside sleep paralysis (tactile hallucinations, visual hallucinations, auditory hallucinations, etc.), intense feelings of fear, dread, panic states, and feeling helpless. Less frequent symptoms can include euphoria, out-of-body experiences and feelings of connection. Additionally, when hallucinations are present, the content of the hallucinations tend to be similar across those affected: in very many cases, they involve perceiving the presence of a person or entity in the room or in the bed.
Hypnosis for Sleep Paralysis
Hypnotherapy is one of the most effective ways to help those experiencing sleep paralysis. Studies on its effectiveness have been conducted many years ago¹, but because there are very few experts on sleep paralysis working in therapy, further research has been neglected for most forms of therapy. At Hypnosis Berlin, we want to offer a space where treatment for sleep paralysis is more than just treating a sleep disorder. Since experiences with sleep paralysis can be so intense, and since it can raise a lot of questions about the nature of reality, our beliefs, and the intense fear that can accompany it, we would like to provide in-depth treatment plans that are adapted to your individual needs and the direction that is right for you. You will not only receive the space to speak freely (and in as much detail as you wish) about your experiences, but we will also find ways to alter your perception of the experience and thereby lessen the fear surrounding it. Since you are in an altered state of consciousness during hypnosis (just as in sleep paralysis), hypnotherapy provides the perfect setting and tools to gain control over your mind and emotions during an altered state, such as sleep paralysis.
Sleep Paralysis Self Test
Did I experience sleep paralysis?
The following questions may help you find out whether you had an episode (or episodes) of sleep paralysis.
Did you perceive the room around you or have an awareness of yourself lying in bed, while being unable to move?
Did you attempt to move but were unable to, because you felt physically paralyzed and unable to connect to your body?
Did you hear voices or even see someone or something that speaks to you?
Did you sense, hear or see the presence of someone or something in the room?
Did you feel someone or something in bed with you and experience someone or something physically touching you?
Did you feel a pressure on your chest or find it difficult to breathe?
If you can answer yes to one or more of these questions, you may have experienced sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis experiences can be very individual, but there tend to be a lot of overlaps and shared experiences among those affected. The questions above touch on some of the most common shared experiences.
Sleep Paralysis Facts
Who is affected by sleep paralysis?
Sleep paralysis can happen to anyone. It is estimated that most people will experience sleep paralysis at least once throughout their lives. However, certain factors can make it more likely for you to experience sleep paralysis. Students are proportionately more likely to experience it because they tend to have irregular sleep patterns - and disrupted sleep is an important risk factor for sleep paralysis. Other risk factors include stress, consuming caffeine or other stimulants, anxiety and insomnia. The perfect conditions for sleep paralysis involve being highly mentally active (ruminating thoughts) paired with physical exhaustion (physically yearning for sleep).
Sleep Paralysis Statistics
Studies have shown that sleep paralysis occurs equally across males and females. Numbers vary greatly across studies, but here is an overview of some numbers reflecting epidemiology on an international scale.
Own illustration, data source: Sharpless, Brian A.; Barber, Jacques P. (October 2011). "Lifetime prevalence rates of sleep paralysis: A systematic review". Sleep Medicine Reviews. 15 (5): 311–315.
, accessed 09/14/21
Own illustration, data source: Blackmore Susan J., Parker Jennifer J. (2002). "Comparing the Content of Sleep Paralysis and Dream Reports" . Dreaming. 12 (1): 45–59
, accessed 09/14/21
Own illustration, data source: Jalal B, Romanelli A, Hinton DE. Sleep paralysis in Italy: Frequency, hallucinatory experiences, and other features. Transcultural Psychiatry. 2021;58(3):427-439
Kompajne, E.J. (2008). 'The devil lay upon her and held her down' Hypnagogic hallucinations and sleep paralysis described by the Dutch physician Isbrand van Diemerbroeck (1609-1674) in 1664. Journal of Sleep Research, 17, 464-467
Cheyne, J.A., Rueffer, S.D. & Newby-Clark, I.R. (1999). Hypnagogic and Hypnopompic Hallucinations during Sleep Paralysis: Neurological and Cultural Construction of the Night-Mare. Consciousness and Cognition, 8, 319-337.
Sleep Paralysis Causes
This is the mechanism of sleep paralysis
As mentioned earlier, we all experience muscular paralysis when we sleep, even when we are not experiencing sleep paralysis. This tends to happen during the REM stage of sleep, which is also known as the “dream stage”. However, since it happens during our sleep, we are usually unaware of muscular paralysis occurring. Sleep paralysis occurs when we consciously awaken during REM stage paralysis, and our physical body does not “wake up” with us, causing us to enter the state of hypnagogia (a state between wakefulness and sleep). Hypnagogia entails an altered state of consciousness in which our perception operates in accordance to this altered state. This state is what causes experiences such as hallucinations and other symptoms accompanying sleep paralysis.
Sleep Paralysis Consequences
What consequences can sleep paralysis have?
Many people who have experienced sleep paralysis only once may struggle with fear, anxiety and insomnia, and this tends to become more common and prevalent for those who experience it regularly.
Some of the common symptoms following sleep paralysis include:
Insomnia caused by the fear of falling asleep and having sleep paralysis reoccur.
Intense fear and anxiety
Difficulty speaking about the experience for fear of being judged.
Anxiety surrounding religious or spiritual beliefs regarding the content of the hallucinations during sleep paralysis
Existential fears caused by the questioning of one’s own beliefs.
Feeling isolated and alone in the experience since few speak about it.
Feelings of helplessness
Lack of energy due to increasingly poor sleeping habits
Sleep Paralysis and Secondary Conditions
Although sleep paralysis is often a side effect of narcolepsy, some other conditions can arise from sleep paralysis alone. The most common of these is insomnia, closely followed by anxiety disorders
. These in turn are linked to greater levels of stress
, creating a vicious cycle - since stress is, once again, a risk factor for further episodes of sleep paralysis. The stress arising from sleep paralysis and anxiety also weakens the immune system and can make you more susceptible to getting physically ill. Therefore we advise you to seek treatment for sleep paralysis as soon as possible, so that you can return to a more well-rested version of yourself and rediscover a relaxed relationship to sleep.
Sleep Paralysis - Hypnosis Treatments
In-depth hypnotherapy for sleep paralysis
There are not many therapeutic practices focusing on sleep paralysis, let alone a hypnotherapy practice. We are currently developing new therapeutic approaches for sleep paralysis and all the multifaceted issues arising from sleep paralysis. Since the experiences of sleep paralysis are so intense and bring a plethora of concerns with them, we would like to offer in-depth treatments to those who need more time to process their experiences.
How hypnosis helps you cope with sleep paralysis
For most people dealing with sleep paralysis, the most pressing issue tends to be that they simply want it to stop and they no longer want to experience the feelings of terror surrounding it. One of the things that is important to understand is that fear feeds on fear - and the same is true during sleep paralysis. This means that our main focus will be to challenge and alter your perception of past experiences with sleep paralysis and also alter your approach to potential new events through hypnosis. It is often the feeling of helplessness that makes the experience so terrifying for most. However, as you will discover through hypnosis and hypnotherapy, you absolutely are not helpless - with the power of the mind, we control our own reality and our perception. As soon as you discover this, you will find that experiences in any altered state are fluid and flexible. What was once seen as something terrifying and dark, may suddenly become merely peculiar or even bright and light. Not all experiences with sleep paralysis involve scary hallucinatory content. Positive and pleasant experiences are possible during sleep paralysis. With our hypnotherapy treatments, you will receive the tools to regain control and choose to either seek ways to have it occur less often or seek ways to merely alter the experience. Additionally, you will be taught how to “snap out” of the experience when you feel trapped and want to wake up. There is no right or wrong way. It is completely individual and depends on your personal needs and preferences. If you would like to learn more about hypnosis and hypnotherapy, we encourage you to navigate to our FAQ
or other informative pages on our website, which is constantly being updated.