I remember hearing people tell me about their experiences with something called 'sleep paralysis,' but I never actually believed any of these stories. The whole thing about hallucinations and not being able to move just didn't sound real to me, so I always figured it was just an exaggeration of a typical nightmare.
That was until I experienced it for myself. I had woken up at four in the morning, eyes shut (luckily for me) but unable to move. It felt like my chest was being crushed into a million tiny pieces and I remember thinking to myself: this is the end. I tried to scream to my family but nothing was coming out, and I truly thought I was dying. Within 15 seconds, my eyes finally opened, but I was shaking uncontrollably, still concerned as to what really happened. Like I mentioned before, I had never experienced something like this, so I had no idea it was sleep paralysis until I did more research. Since my eyes were closed, I didn't have any of the scary hallucinations or creepy men staring me in the face like others had told me. I simply just felt like my world was coming to a quick end.
When people teach you how to be healthy, we often associate being healthy with eating our leafy greens and hitting the treadmill. We rarely hear about how important it is to get the correct amount of sleep. We stay up late, we wake up early, and we are basically always exhausted. After doing more research on sleep paralysis, I discovered that it usually pops up in, none other than, college students. This is blamed on the fact that college students hardly sleep as much as a 20-year old should.
There are other factors that influence this to come about, two that particularly affected my experience. The first is jet lag. My horrifying account of what happened occurred the very first night I had gotten home from a week-long trip to Europe. I was extremely jet-lagged, so I can vouch for this statement. The second factor is sleeping on your back. I don't normally sleep on my back, but that night, I chose the wrong position. After that, I vowed to myself I would never fall asleep on my back again.
I want to bring awareness to this because I really don't want anyone else to feel the way I did that night. It is so important to try to get in the correct hours of sleep a night, even if it can be hard. Now, sleep paralysis won't actually ever kill you, but it can make you feel that way. And in this case, it's more terrifying than one might think.