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morrigan

Shared Sleep Paralysis Episode

18 posts in this topic

I recently was reminded of a series of events that occurred to my high school boyfriend and his family several years ago, and I was hoping for some additional (perhaps better educated) opinions on the matter.

A little background first. There were 4 children in his family, 2 boys and 2 girls, my ex being the oldest of the 4. They lived in a 5 bedroom house. Parents obviously had their own bedroom, each of the boys had their own room, the girls shared a room, and the last bedroom had been converted into a recording studio by the boys and their band mates. There was a bed in the studio room, used most often as a couch by people watching the band practice. Very rarely did anyone sleep in the room.

Once after a late night session of guitar practice, my ex was lying down on the bed in the studio, fell asleep, and had a horrible SP experience. It was of a small evil looking creature that crouched on his chest. He said he was unable to move or breathe normally and that it smelled like rotting meat. He was finally able to close his eyes, muster enough strength, and fling the creature off of him. Of course when he opened his eyes, the creature was gone. He didn't tell anyone aside from myself about the incident. We decided that it had been some sort of dream (the knowledge of SP was not then what it is now), and left it at that.

A couple of weeks after that, his brother (for reasons I no longer remember) wound up sleeping in the room. The following day, he told us about what he called "an attack". He described an SP event virtually identical to the experience my ex had. Since neither my ex nor myself had mentioned the previous occurrence to the brother, we found it odd to say the least. He swore that it was real, and vowed never to sleep in the room again.

Not long after that, the younger sister got very ill. The older sister, not being able to sleep due to the little one's coughing, decided to sleep in the studio room. No one had mentioned the SP experiences to her, since she was very sensitive and we didn't want to frighten her needlessly. I was at the house watching movies with the boys when she went to bed. She had been asleep for a few hours when we heard her scream at the top of her lungs. Needless to say, everyone ran into the room. She was crying and shaking, nearly hysterical. When she finally calmed down enough to tell us what happened, she described the identical SP event that both of her brothers had experienced. Her parents told her there was nothing to worry about, it was just a dream, etc. The boys and I looked at each other in disbelief. How could 3 people suffer an identical SP experience? A few days later, her brothers told her and their parents what had happened to them in that room. No one really knew what to think about the whole matter, but the consensus was that no one was to sleep in that room again, and to the best of my knowledge, no one did. None of them had ever had SP prior to that event, and didn't have any more events for the duration of the time they lived in that house.

Has anyone ever heard of shared SP experiences before? I've never seen it mentioned, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen. Any feedback is welcome.

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MMMMM- I, personally, don't think SP occurs because of a room. It's a sleep disorder, and it's not known to be contagious.. (that I last remembered)... :P

Apparently, there's something in that room causing these disturbances, Imo of course.

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MMMMM- I, personally, don't think SP occurs because of a room. It's a sleep disorder, and it's not known to be contagious.. (that I last remembered)... :P

Apparently, there's something in that room causing these disturbances, Imo of course.

I was thinking more along the lines of heredity vs. contagion, certain people being more susceptible than others. Are you (or anyone else) aware of specific triggers that might prompt an SP episode to occur? I know that stress and ill health can trigger them, but that really doesn't apply in this case. I was thinking more along the lines of an external trigger like the increased electrical current in the room due to the musical instruments, amps, etc? I always like to look for a non-paranormal solution to things first, but this series of events has nagged at me off and on for nearly 20 years now, and I still haven't really found an adequate explanation yet.

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Posted (edited)

Howdy, morrigan.

It is not unheard of for people who don't ordinarily have sleep paralysis to have a sleep paralysis event when sleeping in an unfamiliar "bed." All three afflicted family members slept on the couch, even though the couch was as an unusual place for each of them to sleep:

Very rarely did anyone sleep in the room... his brother (for reasons I no longer remember) wound up sleeping in the room. .. The older sister, not being able to sleep due to the little one's coughing, decided to sleep in the studio room

Sleep paralysis is often accompanied by "explanatory" hallucinations. An imp sitting on one's chest will do nicely as an "explanation" of difficult breathing.

As to the parallelism of the three stories: these people were of the same generation living together in the same house. They saw the same cartoon shows, horror movies, and read the same comic books, Harry Potter novels, or whatever. They could discuss those freely enough, and perhaps there was a consensus among them, conscious or otherwise, about what "scary" personified (impified?) would look like.

Spoken narratives may be recognized as "the same" despite great differences in the details of the experiences being described. Living together is a factor there, too, since there could easily be some commonality among sibs in their favorite turns of phrase and choices of words.

Since you were not living in the house (if I understand the situation), then you are not in a position to say what the older brother did or did not tell the younger brother. Nor is explicit statement the only way for one brother to convey the gist of an experience to another.

You do know that the two brothers discussed the younger bother's experience. So far as I can tell, you have no information at all about what the younger brother may have told his sister.

The brothers did not immediately tell their stories to the parents when their sister was in distress, which is a curious detail. Perhaps the younger brother, maybe both brothers, were concerned about some appearance of responsibility for their sister's misadventure.

I think this is a great story about how the human mind works, and I thank you for the opportunity to read it. However, there are entirely natural mechanisms by which three closely related people might have three closely related experiences. I believe that that is what happened here.

Edited by eight bits

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I was thinking more along the lines of heredity vs. contagion, certain people being more susceptible than others. Are you (or anyone else) aware of specific triggers that might prompt an SP episode to occur? I know that stress and ill health can trigger them, but that really doesn't apply in this case. I was thinking more along the lines of an external trigger like the increased electrical current in the room due to the musical instruments, amps, etc? I always like to look for a non-paranormal solution to things first, but this series of events has nagged at me off and on for nearly 20 years now, and I still haven't really found an adequate explanation yet.

I can understand that. As far as I know it can be brought on in times of high stress, sleeping face up, Narcolepsy, changes in lifestyle (major and sudden changes- hence stress factor). That's all I can think right now.

I honestly have never heard of anything such as electrical, musical instruments, and the like causing such sleep disturbances. I'm not saying it's not possible, just I've never heard of that in regards to SP causes..

The truth is it would bug me too, considering SP (as far as what's thought) is caused solely by interpersonal factors/biological..

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Posted (edited)

I can understand that. As far as I know it can be brought on in times of high stress, sleeping face up, Narcolepsy, changes in lifestyle (major and sudden changes- hence stress factor). That's all I can think right now.

Every adult who has a normal night's sleep is going to be paralyzed while asleep about five times every night. There is nothing to explain about nocturnal paralysis.

You need only be awakened in a slightly unusual way to become aware of the paralysis that you are undergoing because it is completely normal to be paralyzed. The only "abnormal" part is that you achieve a measure of consciousness before the paralysis releases.

considering SP (as far as what's thought) is caused solely by interpersonal factors/biological..

A worn spring in the couch is enough.

Edited by eight bits

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Every adult who has a normal night's sleep is going to be paralyzed while asleep about five times every night. There is nothing to explain about nocturnal paralysis.

Everyone has the paralysis. It's a protection mechanism to keep us from hurting ourselves while we dream! & NOT EVERYONE WILL wake up and experiences the paralysis while visually seeing their dreams/nightmares..or experience what is otherwise know as SLEEP PARALYSIS.

I think you knew my point very well! You apparently want to correct something that doesn't need correcting.

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Shankpin, I am sorry if you took my post as saying something about you personally. That was no part of my intention.

Sleep paralysis is a lot like twisting your ankle. Not everyone will do it, but neither is it especially difficult to do.

If three people twisted their ankle in the same place in the same room, then the cause may be any of a number of things, but a loose floorboard would be a sufficient cause. Similarly, if three people wake up suddenly while sleeping on the same couch, a bad spring would be a sufficient cause.

With the possible exception of the sister who might have been concerned about her sister's cough, there was nothing in the OP about stress, sleeping face up, narcolepsy, nor major and sudden changes in lifestyle. There was, however, mention of sleeping on that couch.

Nothing personal, really not.

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Shankpin, I am sorry if you took my post as saying something about you personally. That was no part of my intention.

Sleep paralysis is a lot like twisting your ankle. Not everyone will do it, but neither is it especially difficult to do.

If three people twisted their ankle in the same place in the same room, then the cause may be any of a number of things, but a loose floorboard would be a sufficient cause. Similarly, if three people wake up suddenly while sleeping on the same couch, a bad spring would be a sufficient cause.

With the possible exception of the sister who might have been concerned about her sister's cough, there was nothing in the OP about stress, sleeping face up, narcolepsy, nor major and sudden changes in lifestyle. There was, however, mention of sleeping on that couch.

Nothing personal, really not.

I didn't take anything personally. I didn't understand the correction when I understood us being on same page.

The OP asked if there were any specific causes to SP, & I replied back with few *possible- understood* initiators concerning these episodes.. Unless, I misunderstood the OP, of course.

You had said it could very well be caused by a lose spring in the couch, or such environmental factors? Was that sarcasm? If not, where did you find that information?

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Howdy, morrigan.

It is not unheard of for people who don't ordinarily have sleep paralysis to have a sleep paralysis event when sleeping in an unfamiliar "bed." All three afflicted family members slept on the couch, even though the couch was as an unusual place for each of them to sleep:

Sleep paralysis is often accompanied by "explanatory" hallucinations. An imp sitting on one's chest will do nicely as an "explanation" of difficult breathing.

As to the parallelism of the three stories: these people were of the same generation living together in the same house. They saw the same cartoon shows, horror movies, and read the same comic books, Harry Potter novels, or whatever. They could discuss those freely enough, and perhaps there was a consensus among them, conscious or otherwise, about what "scary" personified (implied?) would look like.

Spoken narratives may be recognized as "the same" despite great differences in the details of the experiences being described. Living together is a factor there, too, since there could easily be some commonality among sibs in their favorite turns of phrase and choices of words.

Since you were not living in the house (if I understand the situation), then you are not in a position to say what the older brother did or did not tell the younger brother. Nor is explicit statement the only way for one brother to convey the gist of an experience to another.

You do know that the two brothers discussed the younger bother's experience. So far as I can tell, you have no information at all about what the younger brother may have told his sister.

The brothers did not immediately tell their stories to the parents when their sister was in distress, which is a curious detail. Perhaps the younger brother, maybe both brothers, were concerned about some appearance of responsibility for their sister's misadventure.

I think this is a great story about how the human mind works, and I thank you for the opportunity to read it. However, there are entirely natural mechanisms by which three closely related people might have three closely related experiences. I believe that that is what happened here.

It was actually a bed that was used primarily as a couch, but that's not really relevant. When I asked my ex if he had told anyone else about his experience, he responded with an emphatic NO. Hard to believe he would tell me about the event itself, then lie about telling anyone else. He seemed genuinely frightened by it, and I don't think he wanted to talk about it at all once he had gotten it off his chest. I know for a fact that neither of the brothers told their sister because I was present when they were discussing it, and they decided not to tell anyone else in the family. Their teen-aged rationalizations about not wanting to be accused of taking drugs by their parents, and not wanting to scare their overly sensitive sister made that decision correct in their mind. I believe they waited to tell them all after the fact because the sister was so traumatized by the event. Speaking up at that time would have scared her even more, and no good could have come from that.

There were most definitely similarities between the brothers. They were both musicians, and both lived the same sort of lifestyle, but their sister was the polar opposite. As for them having a common belief of what is scary, I guess that is possible, although the sister would have had a far broader range of "scary things" than the brothers did. I neglected to mention in the initial post that they did not come from a religious family, so there was no indoctrination about demons, devils, hell, or other things of that nature. Those were things they were brought up to believe did not exist.

I agree that there is more than likely a rational explanation for why they all had the same experience. I'm not one to jump to conclusions. Your suggestions about similarities in their upbringing could very well be the reason behind the shared experiences. It's just always seemed so odd to me that the experiences, as they recounted them, were virtually identical. Same little being, same bad smell, etc. Very curious set of circumstances.

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Posted (edited)

I still find it rather ODD (to say the least) that all three shared the same experience in the same bedroom.

and to add, very unlikely.

Edited by Shankpin

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I didn't take anything personally. I didn't understand the correction when I understood us being on same page.

The OP asked if there were any specific causes to SP, & I replied back with few *possible- understood* initiators concerning these episodes.. Unless, I misunderstood the OP, of course.

You had said it could very well be caused by a lose spring in the couch, or such environmental factors? Was that sarcasm? If not, where did you find that information?

You didn't misunderstand. That was exactly was I was curious about.

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Thank You for clarifying that for me, Morrigan. ;)

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I still find it rather ODD (to say the least) that all three shared the same experience in the same bedroom.

and to add, very unlikely.

I fully agree. I've had many episodes of SP during my life, but no two were ever the same, let alone the same as anyone elses. If I didn't know better, I would have assumed that the whole thing was a giant put on to try to scare me.

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Besides those on the board, I've known only one other who experiences SP, and that's my sister.

As many genes as we share, as many nights we shared the same bed growing up in the same bedroom (I may add), seeing that our environments were identical, & our belief system being virtually the same thing.. I've never experienced an episode to the degree that she has. I can recall once, recently, during a time of extreme stress. What I experienced was NOTHING, not even close, to what she experience(s.) Not by a long shot.

Come to think of it Morrigan, I believe it was Discovery who'd done a special about Sleep Paralysis. An interesting special, too. In the program were two brothers who shared separate bedrooms growing up. The eldest brother experienced the "old hag" on a regular basis. While the other brother never experienced anything at all. The older brother moved out, and the younger brother moved into his bedroom. Needless to say, he also started experiencing the "old hag" syndrome (aka; Sleep paralysis)..

I almost forgot about that.. very interesting though.

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Shankpin

Was that sarcasm?

No, I meant bad spring only as a specific representative example to stand for any of the countless ways in which sleeping on an unfamiliar, improvised (or, as it turns out, rarely used as a bed) bed might plausibly cause a disturbance of sleep.

If not, where did you find that information?

A website with lots of reliable information about sleep paralysis is

http://watarts.uwaterloo.ca/~acheyne/S_P.html

Their prevention page makes a good case for the causal importance of sleep disturbances generally, even as the proximate cause of cases where stress is also a contributing factor:

http://watarts.uwaterloo.ca/~acheyne/prevent.html

While narcolepsy is a risk factor for sleep paralysis, narcolepsy is too rare to account for much of the high prevalence of sleep paralaysis, perhaps 20 to 40% of the general population having at least one sleep paralysis episode sometime in their lives.

Again, sorry if any of this was taken as corrective, sarcastic, or anything other than polite.

morrigan

Hard to believe he would tell me about the event itself, then lie about telling anyone else.

You know them; I don't. I defer to your estimate of the situation.

I neglected to mention in the initial post that they did not come from a religious family, so there was no indoctrination about demons, devils, hell, or other things of that nature. Those were things they were brought up to believe did not exist.

That's a good point. But your friends were in the realm of consciousness where religious visions come from. We may learn interpretations of the imagery that resides there, but the elements that form the imagery are there whether or not we learn interpretations for them.

Both

Judgments of likelihood are ultimately personal. I respect Shankpin's estimate of "odd," even if I don't share it. But as a betting proposition,

If I didn't know better, I would have assumed that the whole thing was a giant put on to try to scare me

I don't know better (heck morrigan, ten days ago I didn't know you existed), but I find the report fully plausible and credible, well within the naturalistic scope of sleep paralysis phenomena, along with ordinary small group and family dynamics.

Great thread. See you both out there.

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Besides those on the board, I've known only one other who experiences SP, and that's my sister.

As many genes as we share, as many nights we shared the same bed growing up in the same bedroom (I may add), seeing that our environments were identical, & our belief system being virtually the same thing.. I've never experienced an episode to the degree that she has. I can recall once, recently, during a time of extreme stress. What I experienced was NOTHING, not even close, to what she experience(s.) Not by a long shot.

Come to think of it Morrigan, I believe it was Discovery who'd done a special about Sleep Paralysis. An interesting special, too. In the program were two brothers who shared separate bedrooms growing up. The eldest brother experienced the "old hag" on a regular basis. While the other brother never experienced anything at all. The older brother moved out, and the younger brother moved into his bedroom. Needless to say, he also started experiencing the "old hag" syndrome (aka; Sleep paralysis)..

I almost forgot about that.. very interesting though.

Facinating. I'm definitely going to have to look into that Discovery program. Thanks for the info!!!

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Shankpin

No, I meant bad spring only as a specific representative example to stand for any of the countless ways in which sleeping on an unfamiliar, improvised (or, as it turns out, rarely used as a bed) bed might plausibly cause a disturbance of sleep.

A website with lots of reliable information about sleep paralysis is

http://watarts.uwaterloo.ca/~acheyne/S_P.html

Their prevention page makes a good case for the causal importance of sleep disturbances generally, even as the proximate cause of cases where stress is also a contributing factor:

http://watarts.uwaterloo.ca/~acheyne/prevent.html

While narcolepsy is a risk factor for sleep paralysis, narcolepsy is too rare to account for much of the high prevalence of sleep paralaysis, perhaps 20 to 40% of the general population having at least one sleep paralysis episode sometime in their lives.

Again, sorry if any of this was taken as corrective, sarcastic, or anything other than polite.

morrigan

You know them; I don't. I defer to your estimate of the situation.

That's a good point. But your friends were in the realm of consciousness where religious visions come from. We may learn interpretations of the imagery that resides there, but the elements that form the imagery are there whether or not we learn interpretations for them.

Both

Judgments of likelihood are ultimately personal. I respect Shankpin's estimate of "odd," even if I don't share it. But as a betting proposition,

I don't know better (heck morrigan, ten days ago I didn't know you existed), but I find the report fully plausible and credible, well within the naturalistic scope of sleep paralysis phenomena, along with ordinary small group and family dynamics.

Great thread. See you both out there.

I really appreciate all the input. Thanks so much!!

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