What Is Sleep Paralysis?

Sleep paralysis had manifested in just about every culture, during just about every period of time. There are records of its symptoms dating back hundreds of years. And while it has been attributed to many different causes throughout time, there is little known about what actually causes it and how to combat it. And should it be combated? Paralysis during sleep is more or less normal, the problem is the terrifying things people see or experience.

What is sleep paralysis

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Those who have never experienced the fear that goes along with sleep paralysis will not understand what makes it so terrifying. Those who do experience it, however, know exactly how scary it can be, especially when it is accompanied by a vision of a demon.


Though not very much is known about what causes this condition, much is known about what it actually is. In short, a person wakes up but cannot move their body. This occurs in a stage in between sleeping and being fully awake. You may not be able to breathe or speak, as well. Many people report pressure on their chest, and others will actually see a figure, either clearly or blurrily. Some people will also have an out-of-body experience, feeling as though they are watching the scene, floating above their own body, or even that they are yanked or thrown out of their beds.

hypnoagogic and hypnopompic sleep paralysis

There are two different types of sleep paralysis. The first occurs while a person is going to sleep and is called hypnoagogic sleep paralysis. The second kind occurs as a person is walking up, and is called hypnopompic. During both of these stages, the body is relaxing into a state of paralysis for deep sleep. Usually, we do not notice this paralysis, because our brain is also shutting down for sleep. Sometimes, however, the brain will become aware of the paralysis—this is what causes the fear.

Demons or spirits

A huge fraction of people that commonly experience sleep paralysis also experience the figure or “demon” that is so commonly documented. Sometimes people simply feel and evil presence. Other times, they may actually see that presence they are feeling. They may feel as though they are being attacked, and many people actually do feel like they are being grabbed, yanked, or touched.

They will remember being pulled from their bed by a phantom hand, even if that is not really what happened. Nighttime visitations and alien abductions are commonly attributed to sleep paralysis.

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