This seems like a complicated matter. You mentioned that you have sleep paralysis and on occasion experience hallucinations. It’s possible that your sleep paralysis indicates a potential sleep disorder. It’s not uncommon for people with narcolepsy to have dreamlike hallucinations much like what you have described. The hallucinations typically occur just as one is falling asleep or waking up. Hallucinations that occur while falling asleep are known as hypnagogic. The hallucinations that occur while awakening are called hypnopompic.
One key aspect of these dreamlike hallucinations associated with narcolepsy is the sense of a threatening stranger, a dangerous animal or moving objects in the room. These images and experiences can be quite realistic, frightening and confusing. Often, these hallucinations are rapid eye movement (REM) dreams that are occurring when you’re only half awake. The same is true with sleep paralysis. It tends to occur during REM sleep.
You mentioned hearing the breathing of a person in your room. It’s so real that you have become convinced that there is someone actually in the room. That type of hallucination would be consistent with the possibility of a sleep disorder.
Other symptoms of narcolepsy include excessive sleepiness and a sudden loss of muscle control. Individuals with narcolepsy often feel very tired during the day and may find themselves falling asleep without warning. It is estimated that one in every 2,000 or 3,000 individuals has narcolepsy. It can go undiagnosed for many years.
To be clear, I am not diagnosing you with narcolepsy or any other sleep disorder. That cannot be done over the internet. I’m simply explaining that you may have some of the symptoms consistent with the disorder. The only way to know with certainty if you have narcolepsy or any disorder would be to consult a sleep specialist. Given that you are struggling with issues related to sleep and having these frightening experiences, it would be wise to consult a professional. They can conduct a sleep study and determine if anything is wrong.
If you were to undergo a sleep study, you will likely have to stay overnight in a sleep lab. The test they give is called a polysomnogram typically followed by the Multiple Sleep Latency Test. The polysomnogram records brain waves, eye movements, and so forth, as you sleep. The Multiple Sleep Latency Test is important for diagnosing narcolepsy. It involves a series of five scheduled naps across the day. Typically, this test monitored by a doctor.
I can’t offer any suggestions for how you can “get rid of this” on your own. This seems like something that requires examination and testing. You should consult your PCP and ask for a referral to a sleep specialist. They would be in the best position to help you. It’s important that you do this sooner rather than later because this problem is affecting your sleep. Sleep deprivation is associated with a number of medical conditions. You need sleep to function on a day-to-day basis. Without proper sleep, you may experience mood instability and the ability to think clearly and rationally. Sleep is vital for your health and well-being. Good luck with your efforts. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle