Sleep Paralysis and the Paranormal

Sleep Paralysis and the Paranormal

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Image Courtesy of {Henry Fuseli, The Nightmare 1781, oil on canvas}

That moment when you wake up with a deep sense of fear, your body alerting you of danger and when you attempt to escape that danger you find that you can’t move. In full panic, you attempt to cry out for help, but when you open your mouth, no sound comes out and you’re gasping for air as you feel a heavy weight on your chest that seems to be what’s holding you down. During all this you see a dark shadowy figure standing by your bed, your body warns you that this is the danger it was alerting you to, but you can’t do anything about it. The medical explanation for this phenomenon is called sleep paralysis, but is that really the case? Or is it an attack by a supernatural force? or even an alien abduction?

During sleep paralysis the victim can experience the sensation of a sinister presence, hear approaching footsteps and see apparitions of strange shadows and glowing eyes. This phenomenon is the reason why people fear being attacked in their beds by an evil presence or even an alien abduction. Sleep paralysis can occur with anyone and it affects 15 to 40% of the population. It has occurred since ancient times and records have been recorded on it. Sleep paralysis happens when a person is either moving in or out of REM sleep, which is the deepest part of sleep, it can occur from jet lag or periods of sleeplessness that interrupts the normal REM patterns, it’s most common in teenagers.

There are two types of sleep paralysis, predormital or hynagogic, which is before sleep and postdormital or hypnopompic, which is after sleep. Hypnagogic or predormital occurs when a person is falling asleep and the body slowly relaxes. Normally a person becomes aware of the change, but if they’re aware while falling sleep then motion and speech is not possible. Hypnopompic or postdormital sleep paralysis occurs when the person is waking up.

During sleep, the body alternates between REM sleep. One cycle of REM and NREM sleep lasts about 90 minutes. NREM sleep occurs first and takes up to 75% of the overall sleep time. During NREM sleep, the body relaxes and restores itself. At the end of NREM, sleep shifts to REM. Eyes move quickly and dreams occur, but the rest of the body remains relaxed. Muscles are turned off during REM sleep. If a person becomes aware before the REM cycle has finished, people may notice that they can move or talk. This can be caused by lack of sleep, irregular sleep schedule, sleeping in supine position with the face upwards, sudden stress, Narcolepsy, Medication and Alcohol. The medical explanation for sleep paralysis points to something stress related and can be logically explained, while some victims believe it to be something more, an attack of the paranormal or an alien abduction.


Image Courtesy of Wikimedia{The Grudge,2004}


Image Courtesy of The Grudge

Personally I think that these attacks can possibly be an attack of the supernatural,from doing research I discovered that people worldwide believe that sleep paralysis can be an attack of the paranormal for it exists in folklore. In places like China, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia Nigeria sleep paralysis refers to a ghost, shadow or devil pressing down on the body rendering the victim unable to move. There are also records of it recorded throughout history, during the Salem witch trials in America people reported being attacked by witches in their bed. The fact that there are records of sleep paralysis worldwide being an attack of the paranormal and that there are records of it throughout history really convinced me that this theory is entirely possible, which is quite discomforting; meaning we aren’t quite as safe in our beds as we think we are.  

To read the Paranormal Galaxy Magazine version of this article, click on the title Sleep Paralysis and the Paranormal

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