I just woke up from the WEIRDEST nap!
I had fallen asleep on by back, and was completely aware that I was asleep and dreaming. But I could not move a muscle. And I started to panic a bit in my sleep because I was trying to move but was aware that I was frozen. On top of that I was getting some weird ringing in my ears that I was aware of as well. I can't say I was sad when the alarm went off and I woke up.
Its a freaky thing called - oh so creatively - sleep paralysis, and its not terribly uncommon. I've definitely had it before in my life, and I'm betting most folks out there have at one point or another too. I can't remember the last time I had it, though. It occurs during REM sleep, so that your body doesn't actually act out your dream. But with sleep paralysis, your mind wakes up but your body doesn't.
Reading on it suggests that SP occurs in people who are sleep deprived and have suffered from post traumatic stress disorders, amopng other things (of course.) This was the first time I have been able to fall asleep without meds in a solid week at least, and a few nights even that almost didn't do the trick. I know I have been absolutely freaked out about the scope of this project and its making my bad sleep even worse. I think the only reason I fell asleep is because working on my project this weekend has been very productive, and I am feeling less entirely and completely swamped. A connection? You be the judge.
It could have been much worse, though. Its very common with sleep paralysis to get the sense that something is creeping closer to your bed, or actually see a 'shadowy figure' approach you, or have the sensation of a tight chest or not being able to breathe. Kind of like having a panic attack. Very very closely linked to nightmares. Actually, the Wikipedia article on it is pretty fascinating as it discusses how this is documented in dozens of countries, and how each culture interprets the phenomenon. It also explains how the word 'nightmare' came to be used to describe bad dreams.