“Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.”
― Mark Twain
The moon has always been a source of mysticism and folklore, and some poets, writers, and researchers link it to heighten supernatural activity. I’ve talked about my living in haunted houses. Have I mentioned that I occupied a haunted dorm room while I was in college?
As a sophomore at Texas Lutheran University, I experienced my first Waking Dead Sleep (WDS). I lived in Emma Frey , the oldest dorm — at the time — on campus. Since those first encounters in college, I hadn’t experienced WDS until recent nights of the Super Moons, which plunged this mysterious topic to the forefront of my research.
I considered including WDS in my Ghost Hunt series, but didn’t because I’m uncertain if my WDS experience was actually such an occurrence or a ghostly encounter. Perhaps you will help decide. Let’s probe into what The Waking Dead Sleep is and how it differs from nightmares.
The Waking Dead Sleep
The haunted dorm room came to mind this morning when I recalled the first time I experienced a Waking Dead Sleep — not to be confused with sleep walking or a nightmare. Researchers often label WDS as sleep paralysis, demon on your chest, out-of-body, or alien abduction.
WDS differs from a nightmare in that you are awake but paralyzed. The sufferer is not running from monsters or evil, as in a typical nightmare or night terror. However, he/she senses something is dreadfully wrong but cannot escape. You can’t move, nor can you wake yourself from this state of horror.
The American Sleep Association defines sleep paralysis as,
a state in which the subject is physically immobile, but fully conscious.
I was a sophomore in college the first time I experienced the Waking Dead Sleep. I was awake and knew I was. People talked. Sirens blared. Red lights flashed. I lie on a stretcher near the ambulance. People discussed whether I was still alive. I heard everything they said. I tried to talk, to move, to tell them I am alive. But I couldn’t make my body move. Not even my lips to utter one terrifying I’m here. Help me.
Every night, I woke my poor roommate with my screams. An entire semester passed before my roommate and I discovered a girl had killed herself in our room. Upon discovery, my WDS ended.
In my WDS, I am awake but powerless to say a word or move a finger. This paralysis overwhelms me, and I know that if I cannot break free, if I cannot scream or move, I die.
I struggle, and in the struggle I scream. With the scream, the people, the ambulance, the stretcher, or more recently, the demon disappears. My screams resurrect every sleeping soul in the household — dogs, cats, husband, and kids.
Still a Mystery
Though nearly half of the world’s population has experienced WDS at least once, it remains a mystery to scientists and researchers. They have hypotheses, but no definite answer. One of the most common explanations is the dysfunctional overlap of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep and waking stages of sleep. Other explanations include stress, genetics, and mental health issues.
If you have experienced WDS, then you know none of the explanations are correct, because you don’t have a sleep disorder. Nor are you stressed (any more than usual). No one else in your family wakes up screaming, and you are not crazy — at least not in the scientific sense of the word.
Waking Dead sufferers report a deep sense of terror — an evil presence in their room — which is terrifying. But then, what makes it worse, paralysis strikes the victim. Rendering them helpless. Unable to escape.
The Intruder is the name given to this evil presence. Or in the instances of suffocation, Incubus.
WDS on Reddit
The online website Reddit is full of comments by those who have experienced the Waking Dead Sleep phenomenon. Here are a few.
“I’ve only experienced it three times, but my first time was the worst. I’ve had no visual encounters but when it happened the first time, I was lying on my left side and felt pressure on my chest. When I realized I was paralyzed and I started panicking, something whispered in my ear, “Just coming in to say goodnight.” That’s when I felt like something was pushing me towards the edge of my bed. Terrifying.
“This is exactly what I experience two-three times a month. Except it’s an obviously feminine voice telling me, “Go back to sleep” or, “Goodnight, baby,” and, I can see her face and body. She’s draped in black clothing that seems wet. Skeleton hands but, a very soft, feminine, youthful face. Eyes like black holes. She’s always sitting on my chest. I like to refer to her as bitch. When she leaves me alone I go flying through infinity.”
“I actually have it fairly often, so much now that I realize when it’s occurring. These days I just close my eyes and won’t open them no matter what I feel or hear.
Doing this though doesn’t force me to wake up and I still have to wait for it to end. I still feel and hear everything. Sometimes I feel like I’m being dragged somewhere or just constantly feel like something is touching me, along with muffled voices.
Before I learned to cope with it, I’ve seen quite a few awful things. Horror films don’t really do anything for me anymore because I’ve already seen the most terrifying things I already could. Here’ are a few things I remember off the top of my head:
- A little girl in the corner of my room staring at me. Then, without notice, she shrieks and runs up and starts choking me.
- A large dark figure, kind of a human silhouette, emerging from the foot of my bed and staring down at me…
The worst thing is when you try to fight or call for help. Your voice doesn’t work and your body will not respond. You just feel helpless. Ugh, I need to stop trying to remember these things. I’m getting chills.”