Sleep Paralysis(?)

What horror is this?

Are you are awake?
Are you sleeping still?
   (not likely)
Is this hell?
   (Oh my God)

Your mind is sharp
but your body,
it seems to have lost touch
   try to move
   try to see
   try to scream
      (all in vain)

Your chest
pressed tight
   your heart
   beats rapidly
      your eyes
      fixed shut

You focus in your terror
   (Is something in here with you?)
You strain to make sense of it
   (Is something breathing against you?)
You remember the old stories
   (Are the demons truly real?)
There is no doubt
   (You must be dead!)

With a gasp!
Mind and body reconnect,
   you sit up
   you see nothing
   you laugh
   you are fine
It was only,
after all,
a bit of sleep paralysis!

   (Or was it?)


Written in response to Blogging U. course Writing 101: A Poem a Day assignment, Sleep.

Featured image: The Nightmare by John Henry Fuseli

The Nightmare The early meaning of “nightmare” included the sleeper’s experience of weight on the chest combined with sleep paralysis, dyspnea, or a feeling of dread. The painting incorporates a variety of imagery associated with these ideas, depicting a mare’s head and a demon crouched atop the woman.



11 Replies to “Sleep Paralysis(?)”

  1. Ah, this is so good…it reminds me of a story my dad told me about the “Hag” who would sit on his chest some nights, suffocating him, leaving him paralyzed, yet conscious of his surroundings. It was a terrifying thing to experience, according to him.Thanks for posting. Great response to the prompt :)


    1. Yes, some people believed it was an “old hag” that would leave her body to sit on the chests of her victims. Sleep paralysis is sometimes called “Old Hag Syndrome”.

      Thanks for reading :)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ugh, man I have definitely experienced this a couple times from (funnily enough) lack of sleep. The desire to scream is too true, it’s really terrifying and frustrating at the same time — and that final gasp. You capture it nicely!


    1. It happens to me more often in the summer, when I nap during the middle of the day when it’s hottest. The first time it happened I was about 15 years old and I really believed someone was in the bed with me, like a ghost. I was so scared. I’m more or less used to it now but it does freak me out a little every time.

      Thanks for reading :)

      Liked by 1 person

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