Monday, June 19, 2006

The stuff of nightmares

I’m not very good at sleeping, even when I’m asleep.

For about the last ten years I’ve had weird episodes of sleep paralysis. Anyone who has experienced this will know how downright scary it can be. I know the triggers – if I fall asleep in any position bar lying on my right side I will invariably wake up after about ten minutes, totally paralysed and covered in goosebumps, with a huge rushing noise in my head. I’ve read up on it a bit, and was relieved to learn that auditory or visual hallucinations are a normal part of an episode*. I was particularly relieved after yesterday afternoon’s ill-advised snooze on the sofa.

Small Person was out in the garden. She’d had her lunch, and was whiling away a happy half-hour punishing her toys in the sunshine (they don’t always do as they’re told, you know, particularly Zebra, who is an aberration away from an ASBO, as far as I can tell). I was knackered yesterday, owing to being particularly stupid and getting up at 6am (6am!! On a Sunday!!) to go for a run (a run!!). So there I was, reading my cheerful book about early twentieth century conditions inside US state mental hospitals and wondering idly when the Other Half might be home. I must have nodded off, because the next thing I knew, everything had gone all Altered States and through a fog of static and whooshy noises I heard the front door open and the Other Half come into the living room. Now, the thing with sleep paralysis is that it’s pretty much eponymous. You literally can’t move a muscle. I tend to start with trying to get my eyes to open, and then my toes, then arms etc. It seems to take an age, and is more than a little bit frightening. So I went through the routine, forced my eyes open and there was nobody there. I was freezing cold, rippling with goosebumps and more than a little bit freaked out. There, I told myself, you’ve learned another lesson there. Don’t sleep on your back or left hand side and it won’t happen.

So when we went to bed I lay on my left side to give the Other Half a cuddle, promptly fell asleep and the whole bloody thing happened again. D’oh.

Sleeping, eh? What’s that all about?

* I am luckier**, however, than both Chloe Davies from the fourth year who jumped out of her bedroom window in the middle of the night and broke both legs (concrete patios not being the most forgiving of surfaces), and a nameless acquaintance who is in the habit of attempting to strangle her husband in the wee small hours.

** I’d quite like to be that woman who makes toasted sandwiches in the middle of the night though, and says that’s why her diets don’t work. Honest, she’s asleep and everything*** and can’t help it.

*** As in “has her eyes closed, and is working from the plan of the inside of the fridge that she memorises each night before bed”.


Blogger Urban Chick chimed in with...

there is a woman who makes toasties in her sleep?

i think that woman might be me

but b*gger me if i'm not able to enjoy the hot slimy cheddar and tomato slices on account of being asleep

snot fair

(oh, and hi btw!)


19 June, 2006 21:19  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

hi uc!! *waves*

where you been?

and yes, there's a woman who eats in her sleep. lucky bitch.

19 June, 2006 21:23  
Blogger claire chimed in with...

holy shit. that's really scary - i didn't know this sort of thing happened. Can OH tell when it's happening?

but now, what is this book you're reading, hm?

19 June, 2006 21:44  
Blogger Urban Chick chimed in with...

i been moving house (i'm prolly your 'tiscali in edinburgh' reader on statcounter??)

19 June, 2006 22:03  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

uc - ooh! exciting!

claire - it's called "Mad in America" by robert Whitaker. go amazon it (other online booksellers are available). it's incredible, and makes for startling reading...

19 June, 2006 22:05  
Blogger rockmother chimed in with...

I get this now and again (it started when I was a student)and have noticed that I mainly seem to get it when I'm overtired or stressed. I think it's something to do with falling into too deep a sleep too quickly. I'd get it checked out by a doctor for piece of mind though - I did albeit a long time ago. It's awful - I sometimes feel like I am suffocating too, everything is black, can't speak, can't move and I get the shakes afterwards - awful. Are you overtired/stressed at moment? What with funeral and wrist episode - quite possible! Take care.

19 June, 2006 22:52  
Anonymous Whinger chimed in with...

So when you're cuddled 'round him, is he then trapped in your paralyzed arms?

Claustrophobia setting in....

19 June, 2006 23:23  
Blogger First Nations chimed in with...

oh lordy the book i could write on sleep disorders...other peoples, i mean. been exposed to every single one o' them.
had only one episode of paralysis/terrors. one. that was more than enough...i cannot think of it without getting a small flashback of the unimaginiable horror. i've never felt anything like it before or since. god, sweetheart, see somebody! please! don't put yourself through it if theres any possiblilty that you don't have to!

20 June, 2006 04:29  
Blogger Arabella chimed in with...

Oh Surly, that sounds awful. Such a scary state to be in. Take care.

20 June, 2006 05:07  
Blogger Betty chimed in with...

Suffer from this myself every so often, and once had a scary episode where I had sleep paralysis for three nights in a row. Like you say, it seems to be related to sleeping on your left side.

You have to try to remind yourself that you'll be able to move eventually (which can be difficult when you're asleep) but it's the not being able to breathe that's the frightening bit.

20 June, 2006 08:40  
Blogger Wyndham chimed in with...

Betty, aren't you meant to be on holiday?

20 June, 2006 09:42  
Blogger Betty chimed in with...

Oi, Wyndham I really AM back. Some of us can't afford to swan off on three month long haul breaks on massive redundancy payments!

20 June, 2006 10:42  
Blogger Wyndham chimed in with...

Touchy! Relaxing was it?

20 June, 2006 12:52  
Blogger LC chimed in with...

>>Sleeping, eh? What’s that all about?


20 June, 2006 14:28  
Blogger Pamela chimed in with...

What a frightening experience! I've never had one of those before and pray I never do. ::shudder:: Now, I'm well aquainted with panic attacks at night. Lovely things. They don't make me eat sandwiches tho.

20 June, 2006 15:30  
Blogger CyberPete chimed in with...

That's damn scary! Does it go away at some point or is it something you have to deal with for the rest of your life?

20 June, 2006 17:13  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

dunno. i'm kind of hoping it goes away!! i konw the triggers and all that, but it would be nice to be able to go to sleep how i like. i don't get it on waking up (some people do) or in the middle of the night - just falling asleep....

if only i could claim narcolepsy too i could sleep right through all those dull meetings...

20 June, 2006 19:19  
Blogger frangelita chimed in with...

My most interesting sleep experience was the night I woke up because HF had sort of punched me in the face. I woke him up and it turned out he was dreaming that he was having an argument with his best friend and trying to punch him in the face. Fortunately, no-one was injured and I was sufficiently sleepy for my ass-whooping reflex not to have kicked in or he would have been in a world of pain.

20 June, 2006 21:28  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

have i mentioned that i hate my neighbours? it's 10:10 on a tuesday night. i want to go to bed. all i can hear is them shrieking in the garden.

who'll give me a tenner to go round there and tell them to FUCK RIGHT OFF?


seriously. i want to move, and we've only been here three months.

20 June, 2006 22:16  
Blogger DavetheF chimed in with...

Like the rest of my immediate family I am a very active sleeper. Years ago after my divorce, I moved from a house into a small but rather nice flat. Almost immediately it began: I would rise in the morning and find the electric kettle hors de combat, having been boiled dry. I did not need spooky mystery in my abode at this point in my life. Then one night I awoke ... standing in the kitchen with my finger on the kettle switch. After that I locked myself in the bedroom after retiring.

21 June, 2006 18:14  
Blogger zanna chimed in with...

other online booksellers are avilable - class

22 June, 2006 10:42  
Blogger Liz chimed in with...

I get sleep paralysis too. I kind of work around it - when I was a mildly gothy teenager, I read a lot about dreaming and did a training thing (via a library book - pre-Internet, this) on lucid dreaming.

When sleep paralysis happens (usually in the mornings for me), I'm often able to work out that I'm asleep, and turn it into a lucid dream. It works nine times out of ten, and I've spoken to other people it works for too.

On night-time distress: my husband has night terrors, which are just awful and require a lot of soothing and stroking from an exhausted wife to calm him down from. He's also an expert at very *creative* sleepwalking. He'll try to plug running baths with pillows, pull wardrobes on himself, and once woke up in the morning to find my size 5 slippers with holes cut in them wedged onto his size 10 feet.

His father has a similar problem and asks my MIL to hide the knives before bedtime when he's particularly tired or stressed. What the hell have I married into?

23 June, 2006 15:30  

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