Sleep Paralysis and the Paranormal

We’ve come up against a lot of cases with this phenomenon lately.

We didn’t write this, but feel it’s worth passing on the info.

There are many reports where people wake up, pinned to their beds as if a spirit, or a demon is holding them down.  People assume an incubus or a succubus is at blame.  An incubus is a male demon who supposedly sexually assaults females while a succubus is a female demon that terrorizes males.

This conditioned has been called “old hag syndrome” for many years; however there is a medical explanation for this ailment.  We believe that most, if not all of these claims can be attributed to a phenomenon known as sleep paralysis.

Don’t get us wrong – we understand that waking up in this condition is extremely scary to those who experience it.  Feeling pinned down without the ability to move or scream for help is definitely unnerving.  However, this disorder is more common than people are aware and is a certified sleep disorder than can be cured.

The feeling of immobilization is caused by the brain and is meant to be a protective feature.  When we dream, parts of the brain rest while others function and are responsible for dreams.  When we dream, especially during a nightmare, the active part of the mind shuts down body movement as a defense mechanism.  That is to prevent a person from harming themselves during a dream.  People who sleepwalk do so because this part of the brain did not shut off body movements – usually because of stress.  Sometimes when these defense mechanisms fail to prevent movement, a person can thrash around and wake up with bruises or cuts and then think it may be because of paranormal activity.

In the case of this phenomenon, the brain did not end dream functions immediately when the person became conscious.  This “hallucination” coupled with the paralysis associated with the brain protecting the body, is the cause of many claims of paranormal activity.  These conditions usually are very short in duration – a few seconds to as long as a minute; however to those experiencing them, it can seem like an eternity.

Most of these hallucinations are of someone in the room, someone pinning you down, or someone hovering over you.  There may be the sense of pressure on one’s chest, as though someone is actually holding you down.  Some hallucinations include being sexually attacked (thus the reports of incubus and succubus) and sounds of footsteps, doors opening, and voices.  These truly are scary events, but ones that are produced by the brain.

Scientists truly do not know the reason for the brain to malfunction to create these conditions, but some experience them more than others.  Most never experience any sleep paralysis – while others experience once or twice a lifetime.  There are some that experience more readily – and this can be a very traumatic experience to those who suffer numerous events.

Most episodes of sleep paralysis occur when the victim is lying on his or her back.  It is thought that episodes occur more frequently in those who do not get enough sleep or have regular disruptions in their sleep schedules.  It is also thought to be more common in those who suffer from anxiety or other mental health issues – although it can happen to those without any preexisting condition.

If you suffer from this condition, the following can help reduce the number of occasions:

  • Get enough sleep
  • Reduce stress
  • Exercise (but not close to bedtime)
  • Stay on a regular sleep schedule
  • Don’t sleep on your back, sleep on your side
  • Lessen alcohol consumption

If you are caught in the midst of sleep paralysis, the best way to end the episode is to will yourself to move – even slightly.  The mind is a powerful thing – one in which we only tap a tiny amount of its potential.  Even trying to wriggle a toe may break the episode.  If nothing works, seek professional help.  There is no shame in these episodes; it is just one way our bodies react to the stress that each and every one of us has to live with.  We all suffer from stress – don’t be embarrassed to ask for help.

If you normally wake up with this disorder, the best thing is to consult a medical professional regarding this sleep disorder.  This is another case where Hollywood has infiltrated our thinking about the paranormal.  This story has been told and retold for generations; it is purely a known occurrence, not paranormal in nature.

Is this to say that all these claims can be debunked?  No.  But most can be medically explained.

Paranormal Explanations

Having described the medical reasons for such feelings – there are thoughts that paranormal entities may be responsible for a very slim percentage of these experience. Please note that any sleep paralysis caused by paranormal entities is extremely rare and odds are your experiences are caused by sleep disorders or just plain stress.

During the transitional phase between sleep and wakefulness (called the hypnogogic state), some strange experiences have been reported. It is known that dream visitations occur because it is relatively easy for a spirit or entity to communicate with us – so the thought is this semi-conscious phase, we have less of a chance to defend ourselves.

There are spirits and entities out there that have ill-intent. They may choose to psychologically or physically assault us. Some people even claim to be sexually assaulted by an unknown force. The infamous succubus/incubus claims come to fruition. Incubus came from Greek mythology. An incubus was supposedly a demon in male form that would sexually assault sleeping women. (A succubus, being female.) While we don’t believe in the old mythology, there is some thinking that some human spirits with addictions can remain behind in order to fulfill their desires.

For example spirits of alcoholics can be found near bars, and spiritually possess someone in order to live through the host’s bodily experiences. A succubus/incubus is rare, but some think they exist. These are not the demons in lore, but disembodied people who are seeking thrills to quench their thirst of their addictions. We say they are rare and most experiences are medical, but one way to tell if it is an incubus/succubus is if activity occurs at other times of the day besides sleep. Odds are a true paranormal pervert will act on their cravings throughout the day – spirits are known to touch people inappropriately at any time of the day.


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1 Response to Sleep Paralysis and the Paranormal

  1. Thanks for thinking of donating! We offer our services free to the public. But you can donate to St. Jude’s in honor of us. <3

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