ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

My Experience with Sleep Paralysis

Updated on February 8, 2016

Sleep Paralysis

Sleep Paralysis
Sleep Paralysis | Source

The great debate surrounding sleep paralysis- is it a medical condition or a supernatural phenomenon?

Sleep paralysis (SP) has been documented since the beginning of time, with tons of articles having been written about this frightening phenomenon. Medical science has proposed several theories as to why it occurs and evidence has proven what actually happens in the body surrounding the event. However, the overall source of what causes sleep paralysis has never been solved; even more puzzling is the lack of explanation of why the sleeper senses a malevolent intruder in the room, along with the feeling of absolute terror and hallucinations that go along with it. Yes, there are factors that seem to make it more likely to occur. And there are theories that attempt to explain various chemical reactions in the body accounting for the bodily sensations, or a heightened awareness of the "fight or flight" response, but with no definitive answer. And on the other side of the coin are the paranormal theories that deduce wicked entities are to blame for these occurrences. (Additionally, there's even a speculation of an alien abduction, but for the purpose of this article will not elaborate on that one).

My own personal experience with sleep paralysis

I suffer from recurrent sleep paralysis, always occurring at the onset of sleep (I also have excessive daytime sleepiness, which oftentimes goes hand in hand with this). These episodes are completely random; I may have one five nights in a row, or it may be an entire month before another one appears. But one thing is for sure- it's scary as hell! I'm more of a spiritual and think-outside-of-the-box person than I am partial to medical or scientific explanations- hence the great debate between religion and science. Nevertheless, I tend to lean toward the paranormal theories because they just make more sense to me. Basically, the spiritual aspect of what I experience during sleep paralysis seems spot on.

"The Nightmare" by Henry Fuseli
"The Nightmare" by Henry Fuseli | Source

This is what happens in the first few minutes...

Here's a scenario of what happens during sleep paralysis: It generally transpires about 5-20 minutes after falling asleep. And as I lay there trying to drift off, I start hearing music, voices or various noises in my head. I'm not really aware of it because it's like a "white noise"; your not really mindful of it until you accidentally wake up and have the realization something loud was going on in your head. This continues to happen for a couple more minutes and as I'm just about to drift off, the slightest panic hits me. Again, this tinge of panic is unidentifiable but I am mindful of it. And then a few seconds later I'm falling and it's kind of like the sensation you get when you're dreaming you're falling (I'm sure everyone's done this), and for about three seconds it feels like everything's going in slow motion and sometimes there's a noise associated with this "falling". I struggle to move as this is happening and it's like swimming and drowning at the same time. During these three seconds, I'm screaming "help!" to myself in my head, and then it's "oh shit!" because at this point I know exactly what just transpired (but for some strange reason, I forget every single time up until this moment). Unfortunately, I've just entered the world of sleep paralysis...

Factors believed to be linked to Sleep Paralysis

Lack of REM sleep
Consistent, inadequate amounts of sleep; less than 4-5 hours a night
Certain medications
Such as medications used to treat ADHD or other stimulants
Mental health conditions
Stress, Bipolar disorder, Anxiety disorder, PTSD, Depression
Heredity appears to be linked in many cases involving identical twin studies
Sleep disorders
Heavily linked to narcolepsy, sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome
Sleeping on the back
Lying in a supine position makes the sleeper much more vulnerable
Substance use
Alcohol, opiates, caffeine, stimulants and other drugs in combination

And once you're there...

The bizarre thing about sleep paralysis is that you can hear every little noise in your physical surroundings. Some people report actually seeing with eyes open during sleep paralysis. And I wouldn't say you're exactly awake during this phenomenon because your not- your brain is in a transitional state between consciousness and sleep- but you can definitely hear. While experiencing SP, there are thoughts and feelings of a malevolent presence that can't be rationalized away and your main goal is to wake up from this hellish nightmare, so to speak. Sometimes you're not able to get enough air and breathing is affected, like someone is sitting on your chest. This is caused by the actual "dream-state" itself- when a person is scared, their natural instinct is to increase the pace of their breathing. However, since your body is still asleep during episodes of SP your respiration is regulated and causes the sufferer to experience the feeling of suffocation. But, this depends on how deep in the sleep-state you've fallen. It's the conscious breathing that actually saves me from this hell...


Lucky for me I have hubby to arouse me from this nightmare, because there is one thing you CAN do to alert others when you're stuck in this paralysis- and that is to breathe fast and loud, kinda like you would see during a Lamaze class. Occasionally I'm able to get a little whimper or two out, but it's the breathing thing that signals my distress. And what's more, hubby has learned to tune into when I'm having one of those episodes (even as he's sleeping), and once he hears my purposeful breathing, he wakes me up. It's like a mother hearing her baby make the tiniest sigh when she's completely zonked out. "Honey, wake up", I'll hear him say while he's tapping me. But it generally takes more of a shove to free me from the paralysis.

Sleep Paralysis


Could there be more at work here than what we think?

The feeling of evil is absolutely real. There are several scientific theories that attempt to account for the deep sense of terror, those of which broadly state a physiological response in the brain is the primary cause, due to lack of sufficient REM sleep. But these are just hypotheses. And my question is, why do most people who suffer from sleep paralysis also experience the same exact narrative of panic and extreme terror, namely in either a malevolent being on top of them crushing their chest, or an evil presence in the room with them? Where did the myths of sinister spirits, "the old hag", the "intruder", as well as the incubus/succubus come from? I find it extremely ironic the same recurring theme continues to present itself in almost every case. I honestly believe there are some individuals who are simply destined to experience this phenomena and who probably also possess psychic abilities (either aware or unbeknownst to them). There may be scientific theories behind the etiology of sleep paralysis, but isn't it also possible for a "spiritual entity" to perhaps induce the physiological changes in the body, thus bringing about the sleep paralysis? I know this may be far fetched, but it does seem anything is possible and especially with such an ambiguous event.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Ariesgirls profile imageAUTHOR

      Heidi Johnson 

      3 years ago from Vinton, Ohio

      Yes! Thanks for reading:) That's what life's all about- critical thinking, asking why and how what we already know!

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 

      3 years ago

      There's aa thought; a lot of people think it has to be one or the other. You've given me much to think about. Thanks for sharing your interesting story!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)