It’s bizarre. You see demons in your dreams—or are they in your room? The strange phenomenon tells you in your brain somewhere that you are awake yet you cannot move.
Here are several of my dream states although I know I was awake! My eyes were open and I saw my mother who is in heaven or paradise up by the ceiling in a blue flower print dress that she wore when she was alive. I was not afraid of her presence because I knew her spirit. I could only talk to her mentally because no words came out of my mouth—and then she was gone as I said silently, “Mom, don’t go.”
My cousin Bob died a few years ago. There he was in red, white, and blue shorts and top from the knees up close to the ceiling while I laid on my back in bed unable to move. He had his big toothy smile and looked into my eyes and was gone. I couldn’t move or say a word. Then he simply vanished. These encounters always have a strong feeling of love that stays with me after the visits to this day.
I have had lots of visitors to my bedroom—people I know and people I’ve never seen before.
What Causes Sleep Paralysis?
Not even researchers understand this happening and think it might have to do with the REM (rapid eye movement) sleep time. The REM sleep could become disturbed since the lack of the ability to move usually happens when sleepers are going into or coming out of REM sleep. Sleep paralysis mirrors the type of temporary paralysis that normally occurs during REM sleep, the period of sleep when most dreaming occurs. REM atonia is the cause of sleep paralysis and it means lack of tone or muscle tension.
It’s normal for the brain to paralyze your muscles—a good thing because the brain has an uncanny ability to keep you from performing your dream activity. Some dreams are not pleasant and no one wants to choke the person in reality whom they are dreaming about.
However, the opposition to this is during sleep paralysis you are fully awake or partially awake and know what is happening but cannot move. It doesn’t last long but it can create a great deal of fear in the observer who is conscious.
Sleep paralysis occurs for between 25- and 50-percent of Americans at least one time in their lives. The researchers think it might be genetic, but my parents didn’t do this and I do. Some think it’s associated to those with narcolepsy, the instant fall-where-you-are to sleep where they cannot control it. Read more about narcolepsy here.
Then there are other reasons such as interruptions in your sleep timetable when traveling having jetlag or out all night. Stress can also be a factor. Studies indicate there can be a connection to anxiety or panic conditions and sleep paralysis.
Not only are anxiety attacks frightening, so is sleep paralysis. It’s as though you have no control. Some cultures in Mexico, China, East Africa, and places in the USA believe, yes, actually believe that the supernatural is responsible for sleep paralysis. This folklore has existed forever. The supernatural beings of witches and demons are often on their chests torturing them and some say these monsters are trying to have sex with them.
The encounter with the perceived demons can give perceptions of buzzing noises, flying, being yanked out of bed, and the most common sensation of being unable to breathe.
How to Stop Sleep Paralysis
Studies show that people who don’t get enough sleep go into the REM sleep too soon meaning they are still awake when their body becomes paralyzed. Sleeping on your back tends to make you more at risk for sleep paralysis demons. Be sure you get 8-hours of sleep on schedule for your bedtime whether day or night.
Here are some guidelines to try to shorten the paralysis trauma.
Do not fight it since that can put you into a panic for hallucinations. Do your best to relax your body into the paralysis consciously and aware.
Attempt to move your toes and fingers that will let your brain know your body is awake to stop the atonia.
Move your eyes, blink and look around.
Move your lips, face, and neck muscles.
Concentrate on deep slow breathing.
Stay calm and relax.
You want to tell your brain you are awake by doing things you would do when wide awake.
You can manage your fear and terror when you consciously seek to do it. It can seem like a struggle but it works.
Be comfortable with good pillows and check them out here if you think you need a new great one for comfort and a good night’s sleep.
Maybe you need a new memory foam topper on your mattress. If so, check those out here. Sleep like a log on one of these toppers and maybe the demons won’t bother you.
If you take naps, you might want to give it up because some researchers think you folks tend to have more sleep paralysis. If you nap at the same time each day, you might be okay napping. When you get drowsy reading, or watching TV close to your bedtime, don’t be lulled into a short nap that late in the day.
Now that you know a bit about this idiosyncratic peculiarity that terrifies you to your core, realize that it’s only your brain stopping you from doing the horrific things you’re dreaming about. It’s normal to be asleep and your body go into paralysis, but because you are asleep, you don’t know it on your way to lucid dreaming.
To get into it further, REM atonia is the cause of sleep paralysis. Again, atonia means lack of tone or muscle tension. This is vital for healthy sleep otherwise you’d be like the walking dead acting out your dreams each night scaring your neighbors and all the dogs to death.
When you get to sleep each night (or day) the electrical signals from your muscles to your brain are interrupted. Your brain is still able to tell your body to go choke your loudmouth bullying neighbor but too bad—your body won’t let you do it.
Okay. Then you wake up and the REM atonia is still in position for just a few seconds. Now you are entering the phase of sleep paralysis. The people, demons, hallucinations, or whatever you are seeing have you trying to run away in terror. Do not fear. You can teach yourself to be conscious of sleep paralysis when you are finally falling to sleep during lucid dreams or after you have woken up often if you have a diagnosed sleep disorder.
So, you wake up in fear—paralyzed. In this outer limits-type sleep condition sadly to say, you are now in the half-dreaming sleep phase to dream up frightening, terrifying, and outlandish pictures or images for you to make clear and understand what is going on.
You awake in a nightmare sleeping. You can have intense hallucinations or visions you think are reality where some rogue is there with you in your bedroom watching you, floating, or some other paralyzed wild dream nonsense that is scary as the underworld. You won’t always see hallucinations such as ghosts in wispy gowns floating, trolls, or monsters in this brain-created abyss.
Why Does this Dream Seem so Real?
Remember, your brain doesn’t want you running up and down the streets in the wee hours hurting people or whatever it’s set on portraying to you. Of course, it seems real; you are between two realms—waking consciousness and the dream world merging together.
Here are possibilities of what’s going on.
Hearing footsteps?—could be the sound of your own heart beating; actually, thumping away in your chest because of the adrenaline pumped from the heart that comes with fear.
Hearing breathing?—from the ghoul? Of course, you hear breathing; you’re so scared that you don’t realize it’s you gasping for air while the phantom has you losing it in your mind.
Feeling unable to move?—that paralyzed sensation is just as real. Your chest feels like an elephant is standing on it. You won’t stop breathing; it’s automatic and you do it when you are asleep too.
I’ll digress here and tell you about the pressure on my chest when in bed and not asleep yet talking to my then husband. The covers came up to my throat and it felt like something was pushing down on my chest while suffocating me. We were both awake and he felt it too. I won’t go into the terrifying ordeal in this house we rented when we were young. However, I did see the manifestation of the man’s face with white hair and blue eyes up high on the door. By now I was sitting up in bed while my husband was telling me to go sleep on the sofa. I later contacted the owner of the house and she said that’s what her husband looked like and that he died in the bathroom closest to the bedroom. Was this sleep paralysis or the astral world? I’m here to tell you that I was indeed never once asleep with a thumping pumping heart and shaking body. We moved and went back to Colorado.
I’m not so sure about out-of-the-body experiences with sleep paralysis. Why? Because when I was very young, I could sit on a chair, stare at the flowers on the wallpaper, leave my body, and look down at me sitting in the chair. This was not a lucid dream; after all, I was sitting on the chair for an hour for punishment by my mom and not sleeping.
With sleep paralysis, you can have this type experience because your brain wants you to get a grip creating all sorts of things that would be called lucid dreams during the half-way to dreamland and still on this side of it.
Lucid dreaming can help you with sleep paralysis. I do not like it because I dream all night where my brain is conscious. It is simply a dream where you are aware. Sleep paralysis cannot hurt you. Be mindful and sleep well with pleasant dreams.