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Sleep Paralysis Is it a Normal Phenomenon or a Psychic Event?

Updated on May 8, 2015
Incubus | Source

Throughout history there have always been stories and legends of Demons and monsters visiting us in the dark of the night. Dreams turning to nightmares as we lay our heads down to sleep.

As the shadows form, and the moon slides down the sky, we awaken to find that we cannot breath. A heavy weight sits upon our chest, and to our horror a ghastly form leers at us from the darkness. We push up off of the bed, trying to escape, but find that we can't move.

We are paralysed. The demon starts to stalk us from across the room, closer and closer until finally it climbs up onto our beds and leans towards us. Hearts beating so fast that we think they will burst from our chest, we silently scream. but nobody can hear us. Then darkness as we fall backwards into sleep, or is it a faint? No, It's Sleep Paralysis.

We wake hours later, still covered in sweat. Our hands shake as we recall the demon in the night. Getting dressed we rush to the priest for absolution. 'Father please help me I am being possessed by a demon'. We wail. But is Sleep Paralysis a Normal Phenomenon or a Psychic Event?

The Priest tries to comfort us. 'Don't worry my son, I will exorcise you, and cast the demon out, it seems that you have drawn an Incubbus to you, I will send it back to hell'. You weep in gratitude, and pray for your recovery from this possession.

(c) Nell Rose

Succubus and Incubus.

Incubus and Succubus. In legend, an incubus is a male Demon that prays on women at night. The demon mates with the human woman to produce a child. It is thought that if the demon continues to assault the woman, then she will eventually die. In the same way that a Succubus will attack a human male. these legends stem from many countries, in fact the first documented evidence was from Mesopotamia, 2400bc. Scholars believed that many of the stories were made up by the human women to explain pregnancy outside of marriage. Over the years there are many different derivatives of the story, and of course many different names to identify the Demons.

Alien Abduction
Alien Abduction

The Truth Behind Sleep Paralysis

My Experience

Sleep paralysis used to be believed to be paranormal, in fact in some countries that are still very superstitious, they believe it is a form of possession For example the Exorcist film. In fact it is usually a state brought on by stress.

At night your body produces a chemical that rushes through your body to stop you sleepwalking, your brain will sleep in co-ordination with your body. If you suffer from stress, the chemicals in your brain deviate from the norm, causing a part of your brain to wake up. But of course the chemicals don't go away.

If all your brain woke up then the chemicals will dissipate. I suffer with hyperthyroid and hypothyroid. high and low bad thyroid. When it was high, I suffered with sleep paralysis a lot. Because my brain wouldn't let me sleep properly.

Sleep paralysis will cause hallucinations, which is the origin of the Succubus and Incubus legends. Demons sitting on your chest in the night, aliens abducting you etc. The reason why you hallucinate is because, unlike other hallucinations caused by illness or drugs, in sleep paralysis you are literally just dreaming while you are awake.

In other words, most of your 'asleep' brain is just dreaming, but the part that wakes up is still dreaming! Therefore the hallucination reflects off of your retina in your eye, and makes you believe that you are seeing an alien etc.Believe me when I say it is terrifying! I have had two really bad Sleep Paralysis episodes.

The first one involved me being completely numb from the top of my head to me toes, and 'feeling' a hand pushing against my skin. It seemed to get closer and closer, starting at my feet and working it's way up my body. When it got to my chest, I started to panic.

Common sense told me that I was hallucinating, but the primal part of my brain screamed Demon! All sorts of ideas went through my head. Was it real? Has science tried to explain away a real phenomena? Maybe it really was a Demon, or some sort of being. It felt Evil. I knew that it was probably my mind panicking that made me feel this way, but to be on the safe side I started praying.

In my mind I yelled for God, and then settled on Angels. It seemed to work. Psychology? maybe. Perhaps by praying I calmed myself down. Or maybe it really did work and get rid of the Demon. Who Knows? The second time that I saw something, I realised what was happening, and watched a person walk around my bedroom! The funny thing was, it wasn't scary or frightening. It was a boy with a backpack on! Strange.

So what is the truth? I can fully understand 'seeing' somebody. As I explained above, it is a classic hallucination. But to feel somebody's hand running up my body? Not sure about that!

Maybe we are all wrong. Maybe it is another dimension overlapping this one. When Sleep Paralysis occurs, maybe our brains slow down, or speed up, to the exact vibration of another world. Scientists believe there are hundreds of Dimensions out there, overlapping this world. Who am I to argue with a scientist? I have had other Sleep Paralysis moments, but I don't very often see anything. All I can say is that, to see something is one thing. To feel them on your body is quite something else!

Symptoms of Sleep Paralysis

So what does Sleep Paralysis feel like? Every episode can be different for individuals. Some say they just go to sleep and then a noise wakes them, only to find that they are paralysed, but others have the same experience as me.

It can happen even if you haven't gone to sleep yet. Imagine going to bed, feeling really tired but you can't shut your brain down. Thoughts spiral around your head. you just want to sleep. Then all of a sudden you hear a really loud buzzing noise. But it is not from outside, it seems to be coming from your own head. It gets louder and louder.

Then the numbness starts. It is like your body is fed up of waiting for you to go to sleep so it decides to release the chemical to make you stay still while you are sleeping. Sometimes I have heard a choir in my mind. A sound so vast it seems that I am in an auditorium, listening to people singing and playing. It feels as though my head is hollow and as big inside as St. Paul's Cathedral. And then the numbness invades your body.

There are a number of ways to try to stop Sleep paralysis.

1. Try not to get too tired. When we sleep to heavy, this can cause us to go into a very comatose type sleep. If a noise awakens us, then we are sluggish, and often it can cause this to happen.

2. Try not to get too hot. This can cause you to keep waking up, and if your body is very tired, it can bring on sleep paralysis.

3. Please don't go to bed stressed. If you do, you may suffer for it later in the night. Make sure you drink a hot milky tea or warm milk with honey, or just take a bath. Anything that will sooth you. And if all this doesn't work, try reading a book. Lot's of people fall asleep whilst reading.

And most of all, if you do have a night paralysis, please do not panic. Try and breath calmly, don't struggle as this will tire you out. And just lay there until it starts to go off. Count sheep, count to ten, pray, even sing in your mind. let your body start to realign.

When you do wake up fully, don't panic. Just get up, put the light on and drink some water. When you feel ready to go back to sleep, keep the light on and open your window. Get comfortable. And be reasured that it should only happen once in a night. When you fall back to sleep you should be fine. And remember, it is all in your mind.

I hope.

Copyright Nell Rose


This was my experience, if any of you have had this horrible experience, please let me know below, thanks.

My Sleep paralysis was caused, mainly, by my bad thyroid. I was unaware that I had it at the time. Since then it makes sense. So please contact your Doctor for a blood test if you do start to experience this. Nine times out of ten it is because of a problem with your health. And please remember.

You are not alone.

Alien Abduction

Have You Ever Experienced Sleep Paralysis? And If So, What Do You Think It Is?

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    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 6 months ago from England

      Hi Acacia, what a nightmare! literally as well as figuratively! the best I can suggest is get a blood test! Mine was more or less proved that it was my thyroid that was causing it. if your T cells are too high or low it can mess with your sleep patterns. so get a thyroid blood test, and a full spectrum even if you feel okay. the stupid thing is, if your thyroid is high you feel amazing! you rush here and there, doing a million and one things at the same time! your weight stays off and it feels great. trouble is if it gets too high, but thats another story! too low and you feel sluggish forget stuff and so on. but one main thing is your sleep. To high and part of your brain says no when you go to sleep! in other words part of it stays awake, and hence the sleep paralysis, which of course is really awake dreaming or hallucinations caused by the fact that your mind is awake and asleep at the same time, okay? good luck and let me know how you get on?

    • AcaciaD profile image

      AcaciaD 6 months ago

      Hi Nell,

      I'm Acacia. I'm 27 years old. I had sleep paralysis since I can remember.. I was 5 years old. I still have it now and I been looking for answers perhaps cure from this miserable nightmare that is slowly getting worse as I get older. I read your article and it's very interesting to read I can relate to almost every thing you mentioned. And I have many different kinds of sleep paralysis; voices, figures, touch, unknown languages, demonic, hag, shadows, chants, choking, out of breath, lust, threats, shaken, eyes rolls back etc. I also had a couple of witnesses seen me in that state.. said it had scared them. Everything is still questionable and I am still looking for answers and possible help. Is there any advices you can give would be appreciated to hear. I hope I get a response until next time have a good day.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 6 months ago from England

      Hi skellie, yes that definitely sounds like sleep paralysis, and what a strange one it was! Amazing! I know its down to hallucinations while sort of awake in your brain, but that was different! I remember many years ago waking suddenly and seeing, on the ceiling, a spiral from the ceiling and sort of pointing down to a point, I jump out of bed so fast! afterwards I wondered if it was my astral projection, and I woke to fast and saw it! whoo! lol! thanks for reading.

    • skellie profile image

      skellie 6 months ago from Adelaide

      Hi Nell, it has been a long time since I have had the pleasure to comment on one of your hubs :)

      I have had a strange experience in the past and I guess you could call it a sleep paralysis.

      I was pregnant with my first child and I was two weeks overdue for delivery. I was in bed fast asleep when I woke suddenly for no reason at all! I was on my back but my whole body was paralyzed except for my eyes and when I looked up at the ceiling, there was a beautiful array of colour streaming across it - like a rainbow but the streams of colour where fluid like a wave. I felt as though I was in this state for about 30 mins and I did not feel fearful, my eyes were moving in rapid saccade motion but no matter how hard I tried, no part of my body would move.

      All of a sudden I was waking up in a normal fashion, yawning, with my eyes opening slowly but with a clear memory of everything that had just happened. It was the strangest thing and I have never been able to explain it.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 8 months ago from England

      HI Singular, yes I totally agree with you. but I do understand why certain countries with different beliefs happen. sometimes even I had to yell at myself and say its only an hallucination! they can be pretty terrifying! thanks for reading, nell

    • Singular Investor profile image

      Singular Investor 8 months ago from Oxford

      I have had a number of such events and they all occurred when I got too hot while asleep. I try to make sure I don't overheat - just sleep with very only a sheet and no blankets - I recommend people give it a try if they are having trouble with these episodes. The actual things that you see are just dreams that appear to be occurring while you think you are awake.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 8 months ago from England

      Hi India, thats what they used to think back many years ago but now they know its purely psychological. thanks so much for reading, nell

    • India-Nepal profile image

      Simona Rich 8 months ago from Nepal

      Sleep paralysis is actual demons trying to get into contact with you. It ends when you accept Jesus Christ as your savior, because by doing that you close yourself off from the demonic realm that people falsely call "spiritual".

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 17 months ago from England

      Hi LaDema, yes I totally believe you. I always have to check first to see if it is physical, if you are totally okay then yes something strange is going on, trust me I know! and yes animals do sense something, I actually think that one day it will be explained, maybe another dimension or something? who knows, but it is pretty damn scary! thanks for reading, nell

    • profile image

      LaDema 17 months ago

      I can say that my sleep paralysis had/has nothing to do will anything wrong with me physically. This thing has happened to me and others in the same house but at different times. It has happened several times to me and is so terrifying each time. I believe it is demonic in nature. When it happens to me the first thing I do is try to say the word Jesus. Seems simple enough but no it isnt and with great effort and struggling to move my mouth I will get it out. Once that is done I repeat that and each time I get the word Jesus out it becomes easier until I am unparalized. I feel very uneasy afterwards and my surroundings also seem slightly different. Maybe that ecplains why my dog will all of a sudden fixate on what appears to be a section of wall and bare her teeth and growl. You think maybe she sees something like one of them.???

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 18 months ago from England

      Hi Beth, that sounds like astral projection! and yes it definitely sounds as though something spiritual or ghostly is going on, good luck with it, and maybe write it down when you wake properly? let me know how you get on, okay? nell

    • profile image

      Beth Barthell 18 months ago

      I have experienced this a few times, it's a little different now though. When my room was on the other side of my house, i would be floating in the air but could look down and see my body laying on the bed. Now that my room is on the other side of the house, I'm feeling as though I'm being seduced and my breath is being sucked out of me. I wake up to catch my breath, tell it to leave me alone, go to bathroom, then go back to bed. Onve I fall back to sleep it will happen again. I can't say this is mental/psychological when I've studied psychology and what's happening to me is different, but the same, in different rooms, but the same house.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      Hi Mel, that's fascinating! to be honest there is a part of me that believes its real, we are surrounded by other dimensions, fact, even the scientists say so, so maybe in our dream state we actually do meet up with them, scary stuff! thanks for reading, nell

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California

      Your medical thyroid explanation makes perfect sense, except...I had a friend who was as rational and non mystical as can be who had one of these experiences. Everything for him was pretty much as you describe, except when he woke up he had finger mark bruises where this thing had grabbed him. I believe him, because he wasn't the type to make up flighty stories. I would like to believe it is strictly a medical condition, but why the bruises? Have you heard this described in any of the cases you have researched? Great hub!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      Hi Odins, yes it's a horrible thing isn't it? sorry to hear you are a sufferer of sleep paralysis, and yes a hag troll or anything else clambering all over you is enough to give you nightmares without the paralysis, thanks so much for reading, nell

    • profile image

      OdinsRaven 2 years ago from Nova Scotia

      As someone who suffers from this sleeping disorder I found this a very interesting read. Though the succubus isn't the only supernatural culprit tied to it. For many Germanic peoples it was a hag or she troll sometimes called a mare who would ride your back and claw at you while you slept.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      Hi Sanjay, thanks so much, sorry to hear your wife has this problem, have a great day,nell

    • SANJAY LAKHANPAL profile image

      Sanjay Sharma 2 years ago from Mandi (HP) India

      My wife has a problem of Sleep Paralysis. I have bookmarked the page for further reference. Thanks for sharing the information.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      Hi PMartin, I haven't read anything about that, but I would imagine it would stop at some point and you would wake up, but it would be interesting to know, thanks for reading, nell

    • profile image

      PMARTIN 2 years ago

      Ive had the attacks but never paid enough attention to know frequency. Its the usual smothering paralysis effect and once I can utter something Im released. Im still not sure if I believe it to be a spiritual thing or the body doing something on its own but I wonder....has there been a report of what happens if you dont resist it?

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