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Nortriptylene/Gabapentin and Sleep Paralysis

Without going into an extremely long description of my history with various sleep disturbances, nightmares, and sleep paralysis which has occurred off and on since I was a kid (I am 40 now), I will just get to the subject part of this post.

I have DDD with two completely desiccated discs which are pretty painful at times. I had before been prescribed Nortriptylene for nerve pain and discomfort, and had developed a lot of night terrors while using it. Mainly while immediately falling asleep, something didn't feel right, and I suddenly would find myself trying to snap myself back awake, only to feel like a heavy sheet was being drawn over me dragging me down into not only what felt like sleep, but like losing all consciousness. I can only describe it as to maybe what a person given some sort of sleeping drug or gas and struggling to stay awake must feel like. This happened almost nightly at one point, and I would a lot of times start calling out for help in my sleep. My wife typically has to shake me or give me a tap to wake me up. Always after these happen it feels if I go straight back to sleep, it will only happen again so I stay awake for 15-20 minutes before going back to sleep. It got so distracting, that I stopped taking Nortriptylene altogether.

Fast forward several months where I suffered another extreme back flare-up. I was literally laid up in bed for a week and could not get up, walk, or do much of anything. My doctor decided to try Gabapentin as an alternative to the Nortriptylene. I had been taking a lower dose (600mg) a night before bed and was working well. As the weather is starting to turn though, I've developed a little more pain and sensitivity so I decided to try going up an extra capsule on my Gabapentin last night. Big mistake.

About 45 minutes after taking them I tried to go to sleep. And as I was lying there I can say that the thoughts and things going through my mind at this moment were not normal. Right now I can't even remember what I was thinking about or what was not normal about it, only that the rational/normal portion of my brain was recognizing that the other part of my brain was doing normal things. I want to say it was almost like hallucinatory or random bits of madness running through my mind. One thing I do remember is feeling like there was this electrical hum or buzz going through my body. I would even have noticed it there except every 30-45 seconds, it would stop for a few seconds, then start again. Once I became aware of it. It was very irritating and the few seconds when it stopped felt like extreme calmness and serenity, but then the buzzing would start again.

Eventually I guess I drifted off to sleep, and immediately went into my old sleep paralysis type episode I used to have with the Nortriptylene, but much, much more intense. When I started calling out to my wife in my sleep, my groans (even though I feel like I'm yelling, what comes out is like a muffled yell) eventually woke her up and she tried waking me up. Only this time I would awake for a split second, then immediately get pulled back in. She tried to wake me up for over 5 minutes. Each time she gave me harder slaps or shakes to wake me up, but I just got dragged back down and could not wake up. It was terrifying for both her and myself. Obviously the extra Gabapentin gave me an major adverse reaction. I am calling my doctor to see what she thinks.

I have almost admitted myself to the sleep disorder center before in my past for off again, on again sleep issues. Just know this was one of the worst incidents that I've had.


  • I bet is was super scary for your wife. I get in those deep sleeps where I can hear everything around, but can't get out of the sleep. Apparently I talk a lot in my sleep everytime my meds get adjusted/changed. Hope things get better for you.
  • naildriver93nnaildriver93 Posts: 35
    edited 07/18/2014 - 11:54 PM
    Did almost the exact same thing to me, it was a horrible feeling. I
    Also take Neourontin /gabapenten., at first I had some bad side
    Effects, but they soon went away. Hope they do for you to.
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