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Rude Awakenings

When I was eight or nine I remember a ghost coming to see me as I was lying in bed. It had a great booming voice and it whisked me out of bed on a terrifying aerial journey. It was a bit like in the Snowman but not as nice and without the involvement of choir boys warbling in the background. Then the ghost dumped me back in the bed, and I remember sitting up straight sweating. I may or may not have been wailing, I cannot remember now.
Of course there was no ghost and it was all in my unconscious imagination. But it was particularly intense and stressful because what was happening to me was a case of sleep paralysis something which I suffer from occasionally. The ghost flight is the earliest time I remember it happening.
If you watch a dog or cat sleeping you can often see the muscles twitching away but the animal doesn’t move. We are the same. When we dream it would not be good if we tried to act out our dreams so effectively the muscle actions are overridden and we are largely paralysed. Normally we do not notice, but for some people like me every so often it goes a bit wrong.
Basically we start waking up and we are still paralysed. It is only for a tiny period of time, but enough to cause us to panic. For me this always takes the form of some kind of nightmare. In particular a nightmare where there is a feeling of oppression, of someone or something leaning over me or approaching me. Of course I am unable to move/push it away/get away and that adds to the fear and panic. When I wake up I am perfectly fine – a bit stressed maybe! – But those few moments are some of the most unpleasant I have had to go through.
I remember reading about this some years ago and one of the theories for people who believed they had been abducted by aliens – and then returned to their beds – was that this was a way of explaining cases of sleep paralysis. I can certainly vouch that the combination of the physical feeling and your imagination can conjure such a scenario quite easily. Also, apparently it can happen regularly or maybe only once in a lifetime so the latter case could well feel more of an event. Considering I had two incidences in the same night recently I must be very popular among abducting aliens.
Actually the last time I was trying to fight off a homicidal stuffed fox in my dream so maybe my Close Encounters of the Third Kind days are behind me. Maybe raving about the Natural History Museum at Tring last week had caused some unwanted connections in my subconscious.
Still, it could be worse. I would rather have this than sleep walk for instance.
My lovely wife – who is incredibly supportive of me when this happens of course – has noted to me that sometimes I try and climb into the wardrobe in the middle of the night before realising that while it may be an entrance into Narnia, it is not the bathroom. But that is the effect of alcohol, unfamiliar surroundings and being half asleep, rather than fully asleep. That I would struggle with I think, unless somehow it could be put to good use – I hate ironing so maybe that could be the nocturnal activity.
Would that make them night shirts?


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