I have sleep paralysis two times a week on average.

Sleep paralysis is a state of paralysis that occurs when you are waking up or falling asleep. You are physically unable to move, even though you are “awake.” Your body usually releases chemicals into your body that stops you from acting out your dreams while you sleep, probably to prevent injury at night.

Don’t quote me on this. I am no scientist. But that’s a very basic explanation of sleep paralysis.

So there I lay, two or more times a week, in my bed, unable to move. I can’t speak, I can’t move, and I can’t tell how much time is passing. For me, it all starts when I’m waking up. I’m in a sleepy daze, where everything is all fuzzy. My eyes are a quarter open, just enough for me to see through my eyelashes. Do you know the feeling when you’re about to stretch in the morning? Don’t think about the motion of stretching, bur rather how your body feels while stretching. This feeling is how my body feels prior to entering sleep paralysis. And then it hits me like a truck. The feeling just gets muted and now I truly am in sleep paralysis. Panic sets in and now I am stuck in my own body for God knows how long.

But this is not all.

Those who undergo sleep paralysis are also prone to experience auditory and visual hallucinations.

For me, my auditory hallucinations usually consists of hearing really strong wind, or a pulsating sound hitting my ear drums. The more that I struggle to get out, the more I hear these sounds.

And that’s the thing. I try to get out every time that I am in sleep paralysis. I can muster all my strength within my body and only be able to limply twitch my pinky finger. If I try really hard, I can move my arm for about half a second to where it flops on top of my body. The more I try to move, the more hallucinations I have.

Which I think is really cool.

I find the auditory hallucinations interesting, but my visual hallucinations are incredible. I remember one of the first times I had sleep paralysis (about four or five years ago), I laid in bed, looking around the room. I then “heard” my dog bard his fierce chihuahua barks behind my closed bedroom door. I then “saw” the doorknob shake and move as if someone was trying to get in. This was back when I didn’t understand that these hallucinations were not real, so understandably, I freaked out. I struggled and moved and squirmed until I finally snapped out of sleep paralysis followed by one gasping breath. I thought it was a ghost.

I consider this hallucination to be a mild one. Time passed and I started experimenting.

There was a time in my freshman year of college where I took a nap one morning. I then was waking up when I got stuck in sleep paralysis. Nothing was abnormally wrong. I was just paralyzed. I thought I would just try break free; try out new strategies to reduce the time spent in sleep paralysis. So I tried. I struggled to move my arms and twitched my toes. I tried to speak, I tried to roll my body. However, I was stopped in my tracks by a loud buzzing sound.

By this point in my life, I knew that I was hallucinating things, so I shouldn’t be afraid of anything that I see while in sleep paralysis.

However, the buzzing grew louder and closer to me. From the edge of my vision, I saw a beetle. This thing was a bit bigger than a fifty cent piece. I kept thinking how terrifying it would be if it landed on me while I was in sleep paralysis. I guess since I thought about it, it happened.

This pudgy, plump beetle then proceeded to fly onto my face and crawl around. At this point I was grossed out like never before. I tried to blow air out of my mouth in order to shoo it away, but since I couldn’t move, I only managed to let out weak, desperate, and irregular puffs of breath. It kept crawling around my face for ages. I was faced up during the whole event. This detail is important because after a few minutes of the beetle dancing on my face, the ceiling rose up several stories.

The ceiling just lifted, man. That’s not all. It also turned into stained glass like the murals you see in church. And the beetle flew up into the stained glass. The “light” that was shining through the glass peppered my entire bedroom with blues, reds, greens, and golds. I then truly woke up and could move. I wiped my face with my hands. The ceiling was beige.

In my time of sleep paralysis, I have seen a little girl speaking to me in a foreign language, a dark cardboard cut out slowly approach me with every blink of my eye, a metal snake dangle by my chest, and three knives lying by my side.

However, not all hallucinations are scary.

I have had one nice hallucination.

This was last summer. I woke up in the middle of the night. I wasn’t on my bed anymore, but on a car. More specifically, I was laid out on the warm hood of a red car. Everything else was black. Above me there were stars. I didn’t really know what to think. Something must be coming to get me, right? That’s how it usually goes. However, the starts started flowing back and forth and side to side. I can’t really describe how they moved, but they had a rhythm. It was nice. I enjoyed not being able to move that night.

How does this relate to anything? I just wanted to tell of my sleeping problem. It’s been a thing for a really long time in my life now. It’s become just another part of the morning routine. It doesn’t happen every single day, but it happens more frequently than I would like it to. I hear and see things that I know are not real, but rattle me nonetheless. That’s fine. I find them interesting to look back on and explain to people. I even want to see more things.

And even though I have seen some bizarre things, I saw a peaceful night once where the stars danced for me. So when I’m being haunted by more beetles and ghost children, I’ll remember there will come a morning where I see the stars once more.

-H.G. Salas

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