My Altered State Experience

The Thinker by Rodin

I’ve been getting a lot less sleep than normal over the last two weeks. Our daughter Rosie has a substantial part in a local production of the musical Scrooge. This has meant lots of weeknight rehearsals for her ending late. Unfortunately I still had to work, which meant getting her home between 10 and 11 p.m., making sure she took a bath and got all her medicine, putting myself to bed, then getting up at 5 a.m. the following morning. For some people five hours of so of a restless sleep a night is plenty. It’s not enough for me apparently. I’ve felt like a dead man walking a lot recently.

Yesterday though was one of my earned days off. (I get one every two weeks by working an extra hour a day.) I looked forward to having some downtime. Instead of getting up at 5 a.m. though I got up at 6 a.m. Someone had to insure that my indefatigable daughter also got up and shuffled off to school. Terri usually does this but since I was home I felt it was my turn. Once I’m up I can’t usually go back to sleep, but yesterday morning was different. I couldn’t keep my eyes open. So after Rosie was off for her bus and after my wife left for work I slipped under the covers again hoping for sleep but not expecting to get any. To improve the odds (I am very light and sound sensitive) I tightly closed the curtains, put on a pair of night blinders and pulled the covers up over me.

I reached a certain point where I was nearly asleep when I realized I still needed to get up in a couple hours to meet a friend for lunch, and I hadn’t set the alarm. Unable to summon the will to set it I put in a mental wakeup call to myself. And then amazingly I did drift off.

I wasn’t sure how long I was slept. I don’t remember dreaming a thing but my little mental alarm clock went off. It was time to get up, or at least check the clock. I issued instructions to my body to get myself up. I thought I pushed myself up in bed and grabbed my night blinders … but I was not up and I couldn’t see a thing!

What the hell was going on? This was very bizarre and had never happened to me before. I tried again. I told my body “I got to get up RIGHT NOW! Muscles, swing into action!” But nothing happened.

I felt very creeped out at this point. I went through this scenario several times. I felt myself getting up. I felt myself removing my night blinders. But nothing was happening. I was not up at all. I could see nothing.

Now I was not just feeling creepy, I was getting more than a little scared. Just what kind of state was I in? Was I dead? I could see nothing. I could feel nothing. I couldn’t move a muscle. All I knew was I wanted to do something and I couldn’t get my body to respond. I couldn’t even feel my body.

I kept trying over and over again: get up and remove the blinders! After a half dozen attempts or so finally something happened and I was sitting up in bed and really pulling my blinders off. My heart was racing. About ninety minutes had passed. I stumbled into the bathroom.

What the hell had just happened? I still have no idea. My wife says it was just a dream. But it was more than that. At least it felt like it was more than that. I really felt like I was in some sort of altered state.

If this has ever happened to you, please let me know!

4 thoughts on “My Altered State Experience

  1. I’ve seen a documentary about this, Mark. It’s usually called sleep paralysis. It does happen; you’re not the only one! Fortunately it’s never happened to me! Sprite

  2. Yes, this has happened to me. I wasn’t able to open my eyes – but only for 10-12 seconds, not the same duration you describe. However, even 10 seconds can be a very long time.

  3. Mark, What you may have experienced is somthing called a hypnogogic , or hypnopompic state. The hypnogogic occurs prior to sleep the hypnopompic occurs prior to awakening. if you do some searches you will be able to find out more about it.

  4. It sounds to me like you may have experienced the beginning stages of an out of body experience. I’ve been dabbling in this myself. Not a lot of success yet, but success I have had.

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