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Sleep Paralysis Stories

Updated on June 6, 2021
Sam Shepards profile image

I'm Sam. I enjoy writing about sleep and mental health-related topics as well as ways to prevent stress and relax.

There have been thousands of sleep paralysis stories and one thing that has been uncovered is that they are startlingly similar. Many who experience sleep paralysis are not aware of those similarities or that the stories often include being visited by otherworldly creatures or demons.

Perhaps even you have had an episode of sleep paralysis and until now had nothing to reference in order to discover what has occurred. This is the case with the following account of sleep paralysis sent in by a woman whose name is Lauren. Imagine this:

Lauren’s Sleep Paralysis Story

“I was feeling over tired and laid down just to rest a few minutes. It was the middle of the day. The next thing I know I am awakened by whispering and open my eyes to see multiple very vividly colored figures in front of me surrounding my bed. They were staring at me yet speaking in whispers and hushed but fast-paced bantering as though they were talking about me one to another.

I was obviously being observed and considered to some degree. I could feel them touching my legs and torso and I became more and more uncomfortable when I realized I couldn’t move. I was completely paralyzed save my eyes and try as I might I could not cry out! It felt as though my shoulders were held down by some force, but only when I tried to raise myself.

As I lay there, I begin to take notice that I could hear all of the sounds around me, my husband in the next room shuffling around, some sports blaring from the television, birds chirping outside. I found this comforting in a way but it also brought with it more concern as I realized aside from being paralyzed and unable to speak…and of course seeing and feelings these creatures all around, everything else seemed as normal as any other day.

It is important to note that what I was experiencing was as real to me as the nose on my face. In fact, I thought I was being visited by demons and that what was happening to me was some sort of glimpse to the astral plane and even now, after I have learned more about sleep paralysis,

I still have that feeling that my initial assumption was correct. I have never been able to shake that feeling and in the back of my mind, I wonder if that is really what happens to someone who is experiencing sleep paralysis and science has not caught up enough to figure it out.

Once the creatures began to touch me (as previously mentioned) I was desperate to escape the sickening feeling and I begin to yell out, though only pained and muffled sounds escaped my body. I pushed my mind hard to make myself come undone (the only way I know how to describe it) and in an instant, I was pushed out of my body and with a jerk, I felt myself escape my paralyzed body only to discover that I was hovering away from my bed where my body lay. As soon as I recognized this, poof, I was back in my body again.

This seemed to go on for hours, though in all reality I have no idea how long it occurred. I can only tell you that it was so vivid, the sights, the sounds the feelings and that there is nothing in my life that has stuck with me as detailed and vivid as this moment.

I would love to say this is the only occurrence I have ever had, but that simply is not the case. I have had multiple moments where I have experienced strange figures while asleep, falling asleep or upon waking, such as black figures, shadow figures, a green gargoyle type creature above my bed, however the incident I described above it the most intense one to date.” She goes on to explain…

Lauren’s father

“My father had multiple sleep disorders, including narcolepsy, cataplexy, sleep paralysis and more. He was involved in a major sleep study when I was young, but he never really talked much about his experiences, though we observed many of the symptoms. Some of those symptoms including the standard narcolepsy staple of falling asleep every few minutes (for him), losing muscle function when experiencing emotions such as when he laughed he would lose control of muscle function and fall out of his chair (attributed to Cataplexy) and being paralyzed during almost all sleep cycles (Sleep Paralysis).

The interesting thing about his Narcolepsy is that since it was combined with other sleep disorders he would fall asleep every few minutes but, he could carry on entire conversations, or hear conversations and respond even when he was asleep enough to be snoring.

I would always feel sorry for him, as because of his other sleep disorders and though he would fall asleep often he never actually rested. He didn’t get that full, rejuvenating or restful sleep that I so take for granted. In addition, he had very vivid and scary dreams, and would talk through them. They were real enough that sometimes when he had a dream that you did something in his dream (misbehaved), he couldn’t differentiate truth from dream and he would be angry with you upon waking, we would have to remind him that he dreamed it.

Because my father never really described or explained his experiences I never put two and two together to understand that what my father experienced on a nightly basis was a long the same lines of what I had been experiencing occasionally. Because I showed no signs of Narcolepsy (which my dad attributed most things too, just as a simple way of explaining things away), I had no way of understanding what he was going through, or that I was experiencing something that was likely genetically passed down from him.

It wasn’t until later in life that I came to understand that science has worked to explain these types of episodes as Sleep Paralysis. But I am still uncertain as to the cause.”

Commonality Sleep Paralysis Stories

Interestingly, Lauren is not alone as the majority of people who have ever had a sleep paralysis experience go on to explain a very frightening or disturbing occurrence where they are often demons at play. Another common denominator with the stories is the inability to move, and the feeling of someone in the room or not being alone. Many others include a sense of weight on the chest and even the sensation of being held down.

It begs the question, is there a scientific explanation with sleep paralysis or are there demons or otherworldly creatures at work? The evidence seems startling for sleep demons as the majority of those who have had sleep paralysis have described the episodes with startling similarities such as intruder, hallucinations, demons and even one in particular called the demon hag. But even with all these similarities and commonalities to the stories, does science have a simple explanation?

Science And Sleep Paralysis Stories

Science has made an effort to explain the phenomena of sleep paralysis, or being physically paralyzed while the mind may feel entirely awake. There are 3 main things that are most reported as occurring during sleep paralysis and those are:

  1. That there is an intruder or other ‘presence’ in the room…or simply put a feeling that you are not alone.
  2. That there is a demon present in the way of a dark figure, shadow figures, a demon sitting upon and pushing down on the chest, touching or choking you. Some with audible voices, whispers or talking.
  3. Having some sort of out-of-body experience

Science explains these three occurrences with a simple understanding of the sleep cycle. Understanding how we enter into, reside and come out of a sleep cycle is important to understand what could be happening to cause sleep paralysis.

During the REM stage of the sleep cycle, the brain stimulates the body to become paralyzed as to keep the sleeper from acting out his or her dreams. Everything is affected by breathing to the heaviness one might feel in the body.

Consider how it affects breathing. When one becomes mentally alert during this sleep cycle it can cause the paralyzed body to feel heavy and make it feel more difficult to breathe.

This feeling can trip the “threat vigilance system” which can cause the brain to imagine a threat in the room which can feel like a presence, or sometimes even a figure pressing on sitting on the chest. Your brain's way of understanding what is happening and why it feels as though breathing is difficult.

If one becomes especially frightened, it can bring on extreme fear that results in what is called a hypnagogic hallucination where one sees or feels a demon or demon intruder as described by many suffers from sleep paralysis. This is what science says is the culprit of sleep paralysis. What say you?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2016 Sam Shepards


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