How to Induce Sleep Paralysis in 5 Easy Steps
By: Mason Komay
Updated November 07, 2019
Medically Reviewed By: Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC
Sleep paralysis can happen if you wake during the REM stage of sleep, when the muscles are incapable of movement, and it often involves hallucinations. It can be terrifying for many-but some choose to induce sleep paralysis to produce lucid dreams and/or out of body experiences. If that's you, read on for five easy steps.
It's important to understand that inducing sleep paralysis can be dangerous, both physically and mentally. If you choose to continue to learn about and experiment with sleep paralysis, talking to a counselor either in-person or using an online counseling service like BetterHelp is a reliable way for you to monitor your mental state.
How to Induce Sleep Paralysis in 5 Easy Steps
Sleep paralysis can be induced through a range of proven techniques. Follow these safe and reliable steps to find out what works best for you.
- Learn How Sleep Paralysis Works and What the Signs Are
One of the best ways to learn how to induce sleep paralysis is by doing your research. Start by reading about the fundamentals, how to do it, and find out what the signs are that indicate whether it's working or not. Look up topics such as ways to center yourself before trying to induce sleep paralysis and ways to stay calm during a lucid dreaming experience. The better prepared you are, the better experience you'll have.
- Reduce Sleep at Night with Naps in the Evening
One way to make sleep paralysis more achievable is by taking naps in the evening and sleeping less at night. This means getting up earlier in the morning, taking an evening nap for about an hour or two, and then staying active for a while before going back to bed.
- Sleep on Your Back and Try to Relax
Another tip for getting yourself into a state of sleep paralysis is to sleep on your back. Work on keeping your body calm by focusing on things like breathing and releasing muscle tension. The key here is to try to relax your body as much as possible.
- Wake Up in the Middle of the Night
If you don't want to dramatically change your sleeping schedule, one option is to wake yourself up about halfway through the night and do something that keeps your mind busy for roughly half an hour. Then, lay back down in bed and try to maintain a calm sense of awareness.
- Have an Irregular Sleep Schedule
The main theme of these guidelines is to adopt an irregular sleep schedule and focus on achieving a state of mental and physical calmness as you drift off to sleep. Some people have an irregular sleep schedule already due to work or insomnia, whereas others might have to create those conditions.
Understand that sleep deprivation can have serious effects on your mental health, physical health, and safety. Make sure you're getting enough sleep and proceed with caution if you choose to experiment with sleep paralysis.
The Science Behind Sleep Paralysis
A counselor can help process the impact of attempting sleep paralysis and increase your awareness regarding treatment issues. Sleep paralysis can have psychological impacts, as many people report being fearful of this exhilarating state of mind. Through this journey, you're likely to experience mild fear and may discover new fears. Having a reliable counselor available can help you put these fears into a useful perspective.
Some of the fears experienced through sleep paralysis are biologically based. Two neurotransmitters (GABA) Gamma-Aminobutyric and Glycine cause the sensation of sleep paralysis. We know that sleep paralysis occurs during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage. The REM stage of sleep feels real because it closely resembles our waking life. The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which helps us distinguish real and fake, shuts off. Our blood pressure, breathing, and heartbeat become faster as our brain waves accelerate.
Since this stage feels so similar to our waking life, the brain temporarily paralyzes us in order to keep us safe from acting out any of our lucid dreams. This function produces several sensations. You may feel you're floating, weightless, or have heavy pressure on your chest or head. You may even experience out of body sensations or feel you're peering at your still sleeping body from a different perspective of consciousness. This is due to your brain blocking neurons that deliver sensory feedback from outside of your dreams.
Other fears experienced during sleep paralysis are reminiscent of ghost stories. You may feel the presence of someone in the room with you. Even deceased loved ones may appear during REM. Hallucinations are very common during sleep paralysis and can take the form of a frightening figure or a voice.
Our own cultural beliefs shape the narrative of what our experience during sleep paralysis may look like. A trained therapist can help you explore your own cultural biases and personal beliefs that affect your fears. If you're suffering from grief, your experiences during sleep paralysis can be a springboard to process these issues further. If you're experiencing hallucinations, speaking with a therapist can help you better understand the phenomena.
Sleep Paralysis in Mental Health Treatment
Many of us naturally resist uncomfortable feelings. Sleep paralysis can be a way of testing your mindfulness as you notice the sensations that occur throughout your body. This is a much better alternative than trying to shut out the discomfort.
Given how terrifying sleep paralysis can be, you may wonder why one would want to purposefully experience it. Fear of death, self-awareness, grief, anxiety, overcoming phobias, having a greater sense of control over your life as you dictate the scenario for dreams and control the plot are all benefits of exploring sleep paralysis. Although sleep paralysis is a sensation we can all experience as humans, with or without trying (though it's rare), it's also an experience personal to you. As you explore sleep paralysis, strongly consider working with a therapist to explore any broader meanings you might not be able to decipher alone in your journey.
Meditation. If you're still having trouble inducing sleep paralysis, meditation might be the next step. Meditation helps you enhance your mental control and awareness, which will serve to help with a more calming experience. Find a quiet room, turn on some relaxing music, and let your mind take over your body.
Write Your Experience. Writing down your experience after an episode of sleep paralysis can help you retain your induction and how it made you feel. If you end up finding a reliable method that works for you, take note of it so that you can use it consistently.
Keep Trying. You may not be able to induce sleep paralysis on the first try. It may take you weeks before you're even able to experience a brief episode. Keep trying new and different techniques until you become a master of the art. Eventually, you'll gain more control until you can do it at will.
BetterHelp Is Here to Help
Again, sleep paralysis is a dangerous state. It can cause anxiety and also cause preexisting mental health issues to surface quickly. If you're considering experimenting with sleep paralysis, it's recommended you seek the help of a counselor. BetterHelp offers a great alternative to the inconveniences of traditional therapy. Traveling to meet a therapist in person is stressful and requires a lot of effort. BetterHelp counselors are available to help you in the comfort of your own home. All online chats are completely discrete and anonymous. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors.
"Charles is an awesome counselor. He makes the hard topics easy to talk about and helps me understand why I feel the way that I do... In the midst of a storm it's very helpful to have the guidance of someone who has a clear unobstructed view of what's going on so I can make the best choices for myself. Charles guidance makes it possible for me to begin doing this...I'm tremendously grateful for his help."
"Denise is incredibly understanding, helpful, and supportive. No matter how I've felt about myself or my decisions, I have never felt judged or pressured into anything after speaking with her."
Some people are intrigued by lucid dreaming and out of body experiences, but it can be very unsettling if you're unprepared. If you try sleep paralysis, it's always good to consider finding and consulting with someone who knows how to do it safely. You might also consider counseling to talk about your journey and any troubles you might experience as a result.