Can lucid dreaming help with Sleep Paralysis?

6 Mar

Photo by Cia de Foto

Photo by Cia de Foto.


I got an email today from an individual suffering from occasional yet terrifying bouts of sleep paralysis, asking for my advice on the practicality of using lucid dreaming to deal with the experience.

Being that I’ve had relatively few sleep paralysis episodes beyond one incredibly weird sleep paralysis / alien / demonic experience back in 2007, I’m not inclined to give the best advice on the question of where lucid dreaming can fit in the picture.

So I thought it would be interesting to pose this question to everyone out there reading & ask you about…

  • Your experiences with sleep paralysis?
  • What helped you deal with it?
  • Was it practical or possible to use lucid dreaming to alleviate the sleep paralysis experience? How so?

My hunch on bullet 3 is:

sort of.

The nature of Sleep Paralysis is so weird, I’m puzzled to how lucid dreaming can help out in the normal sense of dealing with something undesirable in a dream (such as becoming lucid and then confronting characters in a nightmare.)

As I understand it, lots of people experiencing the classic symptoms of sleep paralysis (an inability to move, pressure on the chest, presence of other entities ) — they already know that they are dreaming, right?

Or these individuals, amazingly, are even sort of awake in that their eyes are open and they see their actual bedroom, but the SP experience is overlaid onto this? ( This is how it was for me.)

So if you knew what you were experiencing was simply a dream, would you be able to move and overcome the sleep paralysis?

Curious to see if anyone out there has any advice to share. Thanks!
Photo by Cia de Foto.

8 Responses to “Can lucid dreaming help with Sleep Paralysis?”

  1. Joel March 10, 2009 at 1:59 pm #


    My Answers to your Questions…

    – Your experiences with sleep paralysis?

    – What helped you deal with it?

    – Was it practical or possible to use lucid dreaming to alleviate the sleep paralysis experience? How so?

    I have had SP for over 15 years I am now 25… I have regular episodes of SP about 5 to 10 times a week. What has helped me with my SP is using SP and its State of Consciousness for Lucid Dreaming and OOBE’s / Out of Body Experiences / Astral Projection. It is 100% practical and possible to use Lucid Dreaming to alleviate the SP experience and is also very easy to do. While in SP just stay calm / relaxed and focus on your breathing and think about a nice calm / relaxed place you would like too be and let yourself fall back asleep.. Since the state of SP is so close to a dream state and you are already 100% fully aware and conscious, falling back asleep will cause you to fall into a Lucid Dream !! I have on average about 5 to 10 Lucid Dreams a night that all seem to last about 15 to 20 mins. It has become so natural to me now that any time I am dreaming I no that it’s just a dream and then I become Lucid (even without using my SP) . Lucid Dreaming to me is always an Amazing Experience that has just become a part of my life since around the age of 10 yrs old. I suggest to anyone who has SP, take advantage of this crazy bed time phenomenon and explore its State of Consciousness because SP can be used for a GateWay too Lucid Dreaming and OOBE’s. Best of Luck.

    – Joel

  2. Colleen March 19, 2009 at 7:03 am #

    Although I’ve had repeated episodes of sleep paralysis throughout the past 20 years or so, I’ve only recently learned I’m not alone in experiencing these bouts and they actually have an official name- what a relief!

    I stumbled upon this site because a friend in Iraq asked me to do research when he started experiencing them. I was able to tell him I had them, too, but not much else as I’m embarrassed to say it had never occured to me it was an identifiable issue with potential solutions.

    Anyway, my experiences (a few times a year) are always frightening, although now I’ve learned to stay on top of the fear. Not sure if this qualifies as Lucid Dreaming? But what I do is to force myself to cry out as best I can, this is generally a series of muffled grunts as my throat is generally constricted as well. But it’s enough to wake my husband who knows to shake/talk me fully awake. Somehow when he touches and talks to me something releases and I am able to move again, tho my heart continues to race for awhile. I guess my solution wouldn’t be helpful to people who sleep alone, but it’s worth a try if you have a partner.

    I’m pretty good at recalling my dreams but interestingly I never remember the dreams that precede a paralysis episode. I just come to consciousness slowly, aware of everything in my bedroom (not sure if my eyes are actually open but I do see my room clearly) but feeling completely heavy and stiff as a board, unable to move at all. More often than not I have the clear sense of someone in the room with me (spiritual, not my husband or kids) and sometimes I even see apparitions at the foot of the bed, in a corner, or by the door. That is the part that always panics me because the energy doesn’t feel safe. I suspect because I feel defenseless due to the paralysis, not necessarily because it’s truly unsafe and I try to remind myself of that in the moment. I have considered perhaps the entities are spirit guides and tried to communicate with them but to no avail. Again, not sure if that qualifies as Lucid Dreaming? These episodes, for me, are very different in nature from the times I believe I’m experiencing OOBEs which have a unique sensation all their own. Though I’ve wondered about the possibility the sleep paralysis occurs getting stuck upon reentry?

    Sorry, I’ve probably posed more questions than I’ve answered, but thanks for letting me share! : )

  3. Kratom April 21, 2009 at 7:12 am #

    Personally I have learned to use sleep paralysis as a gateway to lucid dreaming. If I’m in that state, that means I am aware that I am asleep. So the trick is just to relax enough to be able to float away from my body. I’ve actually had my best luck with this with the help of some kratom.

  4. RandomHero May 8, 2009 at 10:26 am #

    I have had occasional episodes of SP during the last six months or so. Although not as unpleasant as in the beginning it is still not very nice, and it happens regularly so I have had to cope with it.
    Also, I recently (I think it was the day before yesterday) had my first LD experience which was amazing. I dont know if it was SP-related but I shortly experienced paralysis immediatly before going into the LD. The LD was much more pleasant than SP (of course) so it might be an effective way of relieving SP.

    Some short advice that has helped me in dealing with SP:

    Move or twitch some part of your body, like your toe(s) or one of your fingers. It really helps you focus and removes some of the unpleasantness in SP situations.

    Do NOT try to alert anyone to your SP, as it will only further the panicked state, when you find out you cant. I have for instance tried knocking on my wall to see if sound resonated, but it didnt, which scared me even further.

    If you can, try to see what time it is on your bedside clock and check it again briefly after. This will sometimes inccur LDs. I have been trying this the last few times I experience SP and although not LDing it helped the SP go away.

    I hope this is useful.


  5. pheromon November 6, 2009 at 10:28 am #

    I think that the first step to overcome it is to understand what it is and that it is actually a kind of dream. At first I was terrified cause I wasn’t sure it was not something real over natural that I experienced. Now when it happens it is still very frightening but I’m thinking ok here it comes again and I try to get my self out of it and steer it. One other thing is to not sleep laying on your back, cause in that position it is more likely that it will occur.

  6. Me November 28, 2009 at 4:10 am #

    Hi, I sometimes have Sleep Paralysis and while I heartedly agree with what previous poster Joel had to say (below), I would like to caution with my own experience… SOME times I will awake and find that I have slept on my arm (usually both, like a mummy upside down). If I don’t WAKE up then I am afraid that there will be a high price to pay in the morning, as I won’t be able to use my arms for hours until the nerves resuscitate from blood-flow once again. Once or twice I even found myself in this upside down position and smothering with my face in the pillow. It wasn’t pleasant, but it isn’t common… so don’t worry about it… just take note to check your surroundings during a bout of SP from time to time and not take it for granted that the SP doesn’t have a purpose… after all, as Joel points out (below) it CAN have a WONDERFUL purpose as an aid to those desiring to Lucid Dream.

    BTW, the trick Colleen uses to wake her husband is what usually works for me to wake myself (doesn’t work on limbs whose circulation was cut off). If I can WILL myself to move a few inches then I will SNAP out of the Sleep Paralysis… it takes a lot of effort to move my arm or leg those mere few inches though. An easier trick is to curl/uncurl my fingers and toes a few times… it stimulates the nerves and is easier to accomplish, though disrupts their pleasant slumber. Lastly, the easiest might indeed be as Colleen says, and is to repeatedly attempt to make some noise with your mouth (tongue/jaws/throat). It is scariest for me though not to be able to talk. Sometimes it takes a few shrieks before I wake up, but it does the trick.

    What has NOT worked for me was rolling my eyes around. Breathing in and out fast (trying to stimulate my chest cavity) slightly works and is easier than shrieking, but might lead to hyper-ventilation if you become paranoid.

    As Joel says… if it’s not an emergency (need to urinate, house is on fire, sleeping on arms, or smothering in pillow) then perhaps it’s best function is to be used as an aid to Lucid Dreaming.

  7. Out of body experience February 15, 2010 at 6:41 pm #

    I have not been able to have many lucid dreams, but I’ve learned to use sleep paralysis as a gateway to out of body experience. SP used to be absolutely terrifying, complete with all the imagery and sensations, when I was a kid who did not understand what is was and was afraid to approach adults about it.

  8. Karen November 29, 2010 at 6:29 am #

    I have been having SP past 6 years , almost happen once in a year or twice but today while having a nap in the afternoon i have it again but this time i was dreaming and it happen in my dreams , it was as real as i had it before , i dont know what is the meaning of having it in a dream .

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