I’ve been battling sleep paralysis since I was a teenager. I was 14 or 15 when I had my first episode. I’m not sure exactly because at that time, I didn’t know what sleep paralysis was. I thought I was having normal, bad nightmares. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties that I learned about it while watching a television documentary about alien abduction. You might be wondering, “How does a show about alien abduction touch on sleep paralysis?” As it turns out, the show postulated that people who have sleep paralysis might interpret the experience as an alien abduction. Alien abduction stories were nothing more than undiagnosed episodes of sleep paralysis.
Interpretations of sleep paralysis have varied over time and culture. While some cultures attribute the experience to demonic attacks, others blame witches. In the United States, aliens are frequently the scapegoat.
Living With Sleep Paralysis
I’ll be celebrating my 40th birthday soon. I’ve been living with sleep paralysis for over 25 years. In that time, I’ve learned how to ‘escape’ the episodes. I’ve also learned how to lessen the frequency. Like most sufferers, I’ve done my research. The Internet is awash with tips on how to minimize the number of sleep paralysis episodes you might experience. Sleep paralysis prevention tips typically involve diet, exercise, & general ways to improve your overall wellness.
Over the years, I’ve found that the condition of my bedroom has a lot to do with how often it happens. To me, it makes sense that your environment and surroundings have a lot to do with your nocturnal health. Unfortunately there isn’t much research online about it in regards to sleep paralysis prevention. The most you’ll find are the standard ‘how to get good sleep’ tips like not having a TV in your bedroom. In this post, I’ll talk about what works for me in the hopes that others can benefit as well. I know that all people are different. I know these tips won’t work for everyone, but hopefully some of you will find a benefit.
The Concept of Feng Shui (Fengshui)
The Chinese concept of feng shui focuses on the environment around you and how to harmonize yourself with it. Feng shui attempts to keep the balance of qi, the energy that binds all things. The flow of qi is affected by furniture layout, architecture, even airflow direction. There are feng shui guidelines for just about every room in your home, including the bedroom.
I’m not a very spiritual person. I do however, believe that our lives should be well-balanced. Lack of balance between work, family, & hobbies leads to stress and unhappiness. You don’t have to be spiritual to see the benefits of feng shui when it comes to maintaining a healthy balance in your life.
Applying Feng Shui to Your Bedroom
The bedroom is one of the most important rooms in your home. You will probably spend at least 1/3 of your life in a bedroom. Eliminate the clutter. Feng shui incorporates the idea of minimalism. Keep only the items in your bedroom that you need. Your sleeping space should feel open and free, not closed and stuffy. This is accomplished by removing extra furniture & junk. Take a good, honest look at what’s in your bedroom and get rid of things you don’t need or move them to another room.
Does Your Bed Make the Cut?
When I bought my first home, I didn’t have a lot of money to work with. My first bed was a futon I bought from Walmart. The flimsy metal tubing that held it all together lacked a sense of strength. There was nothing solid about it and it was very uncomfortable. A bed that meets feng shui guidelines is exactly the opposite of my $90 futon.
Your bed, regardless of size, should have a good solid headboard and sturdy frame. Avoid beds with storage underneath. The qi energy should be able to freely flow under and around the bed. Very strict feng shui practitioners will only use beds with solid wood headboards. The bed I sleep in now however has a headboard that’s made of wood and solid iron scroll work and I’m happy with it.
Positioning Your Bed Properly
Bed position is the one single thing that really cut back the frequency of my sleep paralysis episodes. You should be able to see the door from your bed without being directly in the line of the door. When I finally ditched the Walmart futon and bought a real bed, I had it placed like this:
In the above layout, I had more episodes of sleep paralysis than ever before in my life. I experienced it 2-3 times a night, at least a few nights every week. I had my bed positioned in this spot for about a year. When I bought a new dresser that fit perfectly where the bed was positioned, I moved it to the arrangement below:
In the image above, the bed is not aligned directly in front of the door but still provides a clear line of sight. To maintain balance, you need to have a bedside table on both sides of your bed. Symmetry is a big part of feng shui because it helps maintain balance. I knew nothing of feng shui at the time, but I did know that my new arrangement felt more relaxed and natural. My sleep paralysis events dropped immediately down to just a few times a month.
Even if you think feng shui is a bunch of baloney, it still makes sense that humans evolved to sleep better this way. As a matter of survival, one would have a better chance of waking and fending off intruders in the middle of the night. We might not think about such things in the modern world, but those instincts are hardwired into our brain. Is it surprising that sleeping in a position that leaves one vulnerable to intruders might contribute to a sleep disorder which primarily manifests itself as an intruder?
There should be no shelving directly above your bed. Although feng shui recommends plants on shelving in most rooms, anything above the bed is advised against. Only put plants in your bedroom if the space is large enough to accommodate them. Plants give off great amounts of qi, but they can also disrupt its flow if not provided enough space.
Close your closet door before you go to bed. Obviously there are no monsters lurking in closets, but the instinct that makes children fear closets still lives within us as adults. Leaving a closet door open also signals your brain to believe that a task is waiting to be finished. We all know that our brains can keep us awake with thoughts about the day and all the things we have left to do. A good way to help your brain ‘let go’ of the day’s responsibilities is to close your closet door before going to bed. Leaving a closet door open is bad feng shui.
For this same reason, you must also close all your dresser drawers fully. You know how sometimes we get lazy and bits of clothing get stuck in a dresser drawer? Don’t do that. Again, don’t allow your brain to believe there is an unfinished task left behind even if it doesn’t consciously bother you.
Electronic Devices in the Bedroom
Hardcore feng shui practitioners will tell you, “zero electronic devices in the bedroom; no TV, no cell phone, nothing.” I have a TV in my bedroom along with 2 cell phones (a personal phone and one for my job). I use my cell phone as my alarm clock, and I’m on-call 24/7 for work. I basically don’t have a choice. I’m not going to deride my readers on this topic because the research is clear. Electronics in the bedroom are not good for promoting good sleep habits. The research is also clear that good sleep habits are a key to sleep paralysis prevention.
On this topic, I’ll leave with you with just a couple notes. I use my bedroom for 2 things: sleep and sex. There is a TV in the bedroom, but it’s only ever on when I’m in there folding laundry or cleaning. I don’t lay in bed watching TV or sleep with the TV on. If you want to lay down and watch TV, do it on the couch. Even when I’m sick, I’ll retire to the couch and watch TV there if that’s how I want to spend my time. Do this for a few months and you’ll train your brain to automatically prep itself for sleep as soon as you lay down in bed. My wife will tell you, I can fall asleep in my bed now within minutes.
Sleeping With a Fan
Although it probably goes against the teachings of feng shui, I sleep with a fan running every night. I’ve done this for years. I don’t know if the fan really helps prevent sleep paralysis, but it does help me sleep better. The white noise provided by the fan drowns out the noises older houses tend to make. The air flow helps maintain that open feeling in my bedroom which feng shui strives to achieve. Feng shui however does strongly state that the use of ceiling fans should be avoided.
Experiment With Feng Shui for Sleep Paralysis Prevention
As with most things, some of these techniques may be beneficial for you. Some may not. You’ll have to try them out and keep track of your sleep paralysis episodes to determine the effect, if any.
We Want Your Sleep Paralysis Stories & Prevention Techniques
Do you have a sleep paralysis prevention technique that works for you? We’d like to hear about it regardless of whether those techniques are feng shui or not. Do you have stories about how sleep paralysis affects your life? We’d like to hear those too. Let us know in the comments and we’ll publish your story.
Sharif Jameel is a business owner, IT professional, runner, & musician. His professional certifications include CASP, Sec+, Net+, MCSA, & ITIL and others. He's also the guitar player for the Baltimore-based cover band, Liquifaction.