Skip to content


    Exciting News for WebMD Members!

    We've been busy behind the scenes building new message boards for you. You'll have new and easier ways to find messages, connect with others, and share your stories.

    And, this will all be available on your smartphone or other mobile device!

    What Do You Need to Do?

    The message board you're used to will be closing in the coming weeks. While many of your boards will be making the move to our new home, your posts will not. Want to keep a discussion going? Save posts you want to continue (this includes your member profile story), so that you can re-post them in the new message boards.

    Keep an eye here and on your email inbox, we'll be back in touch soon to give you all the information you need!

    Yours in health,
    WebMD Message Boards Management

    Scared to sleep
    KNC13091 posted:
    about 6 months ago I started experiencing sleep paralysis. The first time it happened i was frightened to death. I had no idea what it was, now it has happened about 7 times since then, I know what it is so its not as frightening, but recently I have started having really bad nightmares which consist of dreams inside dreams inside dreams and so on. I woke up screaming last night and had to set up and look around and had to make sure I was actually awake this time. These always happen right after my sleep paralysis. Im almost scared to go to sleep because im afriad of my dreams. They are so vivid and seem so real I cant tell the difference between dreams and reallife. each dream i wake up in bed, but im still dreaming? please?
    Caprice_WebMD_Staff responded:
    Hi KNC,

    Those really can be frightening, can't they? (I've had them too.) I hope that others here have some ideas for you.

    One thing I'm wondering is whether there's some additional stress in your life right now and/or changes in medication or sleep habits, etc.?
    Hazepar responded:
    I have experienced sleep paralysis at least once a week for about 9 years now. When your nightmares become as vivid and real as your waking experiences, it can be the scariest feeling in the world. Every once in a while I still find myself waking up with no idea if what just happened was real or not. Generally, they are referred to as "vivid dreams", just as you described them. Do they happen after your sleep paralysis, when you are trying to go back to sleep? I have found it helpful to force myself to sit up, or walk around before I attempt to fall back asleep.

    But if you still cant avoid them, there are some useful methods that can help you tell if you're dreaming, and act as a safeguard against those dreams within a dream. (I know it sounds crazy.) It requires some practice. For example, have you ever tried to reading while you were in a dream? If you suspect something is amiss, try finding something to read like a book cover or a digital clock, look away for only a second, and then read it again. The text will have changed if you're dreaming, or sometimes it morphs right before your eyes. I have no idea why this works, but it does for many people. Once you're positive you're in a dream, they become far less scary, and can even be enjoyable if you can turn them into lucid dreams.

    I suggest you look up the book "Wrestling With Ghosts" by Jorge Conesa Sevilla. It is packed full of information on sleep paralysis and vivid/lucid dreams, presented from a scientific perspective. He describes this reading method, along with a few others that can help people overcome their fears of sleeping.
    Caprice_WebMD_Staff replied to Hazepar's response:
    Great tips, Hazepar! Welcome here!
    Becita replied to Hazepar's response:
    My son and I have both started to experience sleep paralysis when we moved into a new home. I know I am asleep and feel myself falling and I struggle to wake up. Sometimes it's so powerful I can't wake up, I know I am sleeping so I go with it. I have scary dreams and a feeling of out of body experience as I actually am floating over myself, can go through walls and float around the outside of my house.

    I found this all so strange as this started happening after I moved into an older home where strange things have happened too. I will be checking out the book, "Wrestling with Ghosts" because that's what I feel like I am doing. However, I suggest to embrace the sleep paralysis and let your body go into where ever it takes you as I now do and it can be fun. I know it all sounds crazy but glad to know others that have experienced this fearful experience!
    Olivia_WebMD_Staff responded:
    Hi everyone!

    I've definitely experienced this as well. Here is some information on Sleep Paralysis from here at WebMD that I hope will be helpful as well.

    Take care,
    ReikiMama responded:
    I've experienced both lucid dreams and sleep paralysis. I didn't consider lucid dreams to be frightening (in fact, once you become aware that you're dreaming, you can change the direction of the dream - which is very empowering if you're experiencing recurrent dreams about a particular issue or theme in your life) but my sleep paralysis episodes are awful.It feels like some evil, malicious presence is trying to smother me. Like you, I wake up screaming - or actually, attempting to scream, because my vocal cords haven't entirely "woken up" yet.

    I tend to have lucid dreams early in the morning if I have been woken up and then fall back asleep. It's similar in that it's often a dream within a dream, usually of being asleep in my bedroom and then waking up. By the time I DO actually wake up I'm often a bit confused about whether or not I'm truly awake or in yet another dream!

    Fortunately, I don't experience sleep paralysis episodes very often. I don't think I'd want to go to sleep if I experienced those regularly. They do seem to be tied to stress.
    Biopsychosocialspiritual replied to Olivia_WebMD_Staff's response:
    Hi Olivia,
    I read the article, how come it never mentions paralysis including the inability to breath?
    I have had nightmares for over a decade now, every single night, nothing has ever helped.
    I do have PTSD but still, too much, too long.
    Caprice_WebMD_Staff replied to Biopsychosocialspiritual's response:
    Hi Michael,

    Neither Olivia nor myself are health experts so we can't add to what the article shared.

    Do you feel you lose the inability to breathe? Have you had a sleep study done and tried all the approaches mentioned in the article?

    And are you working with a therapist re the PTSD?

    To you and to other newcomers looking in here... Welcome to WebMD!

    Helpful Tips

    soothing sounds
    I find that when im having trouble sleeping a sound machine helps me get to sleep More
    Was this Helpful?
    1 of 2 found this helpful

    Related Drug Reviews

    • Drug Name User Reviews

    Report Problems With Your Medications to the FDA

    FDAYou are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

    For more information, visit the Duke Health Sleep Disorders Center