Sleep Paralysis Stories – The Scariest Sleep Disorder Of All

Sleep paralysis stories typically involve unusual and often extremely frightening or disturbing experiences. Perhaps you have one or two of these tales to tell of your own.

If not, I’ll first share one of mine to give you an understanding of what it can be like. Then we’ll take a closer look at whether sleep paralysis demons really exist, or if science can provide a logical and comforting explanation.

sleeping man seeing a sleep paralysis demonImagine, if you will, the following scenario: you’ve fallen asleep as usual after a long day. You hope you’ll have pleasant dreams and wake up the next morning feeling refreshed.

But instead of waking up peacefully in the morning ready to groggily hit the snooze button, you awaken at an unknown time in the middle of the night.

Two things immediately spring to mind: you can’t move – at all; and you’re not alone.

You feel a weight on your chest, pressing you down and preventing you from sitting up. But it’s worse than that – you can’t move your arms or legs. You can’t even move your lips to call out for help.

You’re not sure who or what is pushing on your chest. It’s too dark to see. But you just know there’s a presence there. Something strange. Something uninvited. Something frightening.

This happened to me last year, and was a very unsettling experience. Fortunately there was no demon, ghost or lost burglar. After a brief period of panic the feeling passed and I was able to stumble to the bathroom to make sure my face wasn’t decorated with demonic symbols.

It was a classic case of sleep paralysis.

Sleep paralysis stories like this one are in fact surprisingly common – A study in 2011 found that 7.6% of people will experience sleep paralysis in their lifetime. And the figure is even higher among people who have narcolepsy (around 40%).

You may well have experienced this phenomenon yourself, but until now not known what it was you were going through. So now we have a name for it we need to know what causes it, and what can be done about it.

Accepting the cause is something which I now know many readers struggle with. Although sleep paralysis has a solid scientific explanation (as you’ll see in a minute), the feeling can be so real that you may find it difficult to accept the scientific explanation.

Cultural, religious, esoteric and personal beliefs all play a key role in how you end up viewing sleep paralysis. And with that, how you go about dealing with it in the future.

So in a moment we’ll take a look at the scientific explanation, and also consider some of the alternative viewpoints.

Polls – what’s your experience of sleep paralysis?

For the last 2 years I’ve run several polls to find out more about readers’ experience of sleep paralysis. With thousands of votes collected, they provide a fascinating insight into the reality of sleep paralysis.

Poll 1

Poll 1 shows how many readers have episodes where they feel that there is a demon or other being in the room with them.

graph showing the results of a poll about reader's experience of sleep paralysis

Poll 2

Poll 2 shows that many readers rate their level of fear during sleep paralysis as 10 out of 10.
graph showing the results of a poll about how scary people find sleep paralysis

Poll 3

Poll 3 shows that many people first experience sleep paralysis before the age of 20.
graph showing the results of a poll about the age readers first get sleep paralysis

Poll 4

Poll 44 shows that most readers don’t experience sleep paralysis on a regular basis.
graph showing the results of a poll about how often readers experience an episode of sleep paralysis

Poll 5

Poll 5 shows some of the ways people manage to stop sleep paralysis.
graph showing the results of a poll about what helps readers stop sleep paralysis

What causes sleep paralysis? – The scientific explanation

The causes of the physical aspect of sleep paralysis are slightly different depending on the stage of sleep in which you experience it:

When falling asleep

Some people experience sleep paralysis at the start of the night. While falling asleep, the body naturally relaxes and you would normally lose consciousness.

However, if you remain aware that you’re falling asleep, your mind can remain alert while the body shuts down.

When waking up

Alternatively, it can happen after you’ve already been asleep. And looking at all the readers’ comments it seems that this is the most common experience.

During the night you cycle through several different stages of sleep. During what’s called the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage you tend to dream more vividly. And so the brain ‘switches off’ your muscles to prevent you from acting out your dreams, which could of course be dangerous.

When you wake up consciously, but take a little longer to regain physical control of your body, it can result in you recognizing that you’re paralyzed. So you could look at sleep paralysis as your body and brain being a little out of sync.

Why do you see, hear or feel strange things?

The explanation for why you feel physically paralyzed but awake is one thing, but how does science explain 3 of the main sleep paralysis stories that people report?

  1. That there’s an intruder or other presence in the room.
  2. That there’s some kind of sleep paralysis demon pushing down on your chest, strangling or doing other unpleasant things to you.
  3. Having an out-of-body experience.

The first two are usually explained by a combination of three occurrences:

  • During the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep, and the muscle paralysis that comes with it, your breathing is affected. It becomes shallower and when you try to breathe deeply you may feel that you can’t. Your brain might then misinterpret this as a feeling of being strangled or a presence pushing down on your chest.
  • When you’re in a vulnerable and threatened state, the body naturally reacts with its fight or flight defense mechanism. For example, when you suddenly feel that someone wants to attack you and you get that surge of Adrenalin that makes your heart beat much faster. So if you wake up and are unable to move, and are in a hyper-vigilant state where everything you sense seems much more than it is, you may react to the sensation of paralysis and breathing difficulty by thinking that something bad is happening, or about to happen to you.
  • In addition to the above two processes, several brain structures might interact to create a hypnagogic hallucination. For example, the common sleep paralysis stories of an intruder or demonic entity. The hallucination may not initially take on any particular form. But when the threat system comes into play, you might misinterpret the feeling that you’re not alone as being that the additional presence is something bad – thus creating a hallucination which is demonic or malevolent in some way.

The out-of-body experience isn’t explained by the activation of the threat system. It’s explained by the parts of the brain involved in coordinating movement and also working out where the body physically is in space. Researchers generally agree that an out-of-body experience is another form of hallucination caused by a neurological mechanism.

Dreams and nightmares overlapping with reality

In addition to the above, there’s also the confusion which can occur as your dreams or nightmares overlap with reality. If you wake up from a dream, but remain paralyzed, sometimes your dream imagery can appear to map onto the real world.

So you may have your eyes open, but still see, hear or feel some of the weird or frightening things which you were just dreaming about, even if you aren’t aware that you were just dreaming about those things.

So for example, you could be dreaming about some strange creature, then wake up paralyzed and continue to feel that the the same creature is close to you, though it’s now in your bedroom instead of the dream you were just experiencing.

Then you add the physiological elements that come with finding yourself paralyzed, and you have all the ingredients for being very scared.

Sleep paralysis causes – the not so scientific explanation

astral projection - one of the rarer sleep paralysis storiesIf you don’t believe that the scientific explanation is sufficient, then what else remains? Let’s look at each of the 3 main types of sleep paralysis stories in turn:

1. The Intruder

If you wake up in the middle of the night and you have a sudden feeling that there’s a human intruder in the room, then the possible explanation is simple. There really is someone else in the room.

If you weren’t paralyzed, then there would be an obvious way to find way out if this were the case: turn on the light and have a look, or prod your partner and tell them to do something about it. But you’re paralyzed though, so that doesn’t work.

In all seriousness, this does actually happen to some unfortunate people. But rarely, thankfully. And it’s unlikely a common burglar would have been able to paralyze you and somehow choke you whilst helping himself to your jewelry.

So if you wake up paralyzed and struggling to breathe, and then notice a presence on the other side of the room, it’s probably safe to assume there’s no intruder.

Unless you’re incredibly unlucky and experiencing both an episode of sleep paralysis and a burglary at exactly the same time. That does seem particularly unlikely though.

2. The Demon

If you firmly believe in supernatural entities, then there many not be a great deal of science that could convince you otherwise. It’s a personal choice to believe in such things.

What I would like to suggest though is this thought: if you experience sleep paralysis, wouldn’t it be more comforting not to believe that you’re being tormented by demons?

The scientific explanation would make sleep paralysis demon encounters so much easier to shrug off and go back to sleep. And shrug off the experience is what many people do manage to successfully do.

Interestingly though, around the world there are many cultural interpretations of the forces at work in this particular kind of sleep paralysis event.

For example, in Fiji the demon is often seen as a deceased relative coming back for some unfinished business or to tell the person something important. In Chinese folklore it’s also seen as a ghost rather than a demon or intruder.

Some countries such as Iran and Pakistan interpret it as being demons or spirits who have taken over a person’s body, often due to black magic performed by an enemy. In Turkish culture the entity is literally seen as sitting on your chest and stealing away your breath.

Most countries and cultures appear to have their own explanations for the sleep paralysis demon – some very similar, and others quite different.

The common theme being though that the entity is up to no good and something to be feared. I’m yet to find a culture which believes it’s an angel or fairy spending some quality time with you in the night.

I know from readers’ comments that some people do fully believe that demons or other evil entities exist. A few people talk about them in a religious framework, others just in terms that there are some weird and bad things out there which science can’t explain.

Among all of the comments from people who do believe these things there’s one common theme: nothing bad actually happened to them. This then raises another question: if there are evil beings, why is it that they simply pester you in the night, and don’t do anything beyond scaring you?

3. The out-of-body experience

When I was a teenager I once picked up a book in a library which claimed to be a training manual for Astral Projection. The idea being that there’s a separate part of you that’s able to leave the body and venture into other planes of existence.

The manual mostly involved visualization practice which I played around with for a couple of days before deciding it wasn’t for me.

There seems to be some overlap between the concepts of out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences, lucid dreaming and astral projection.

Many people report having experienced one or more of these, and the internet and bookstores abound with writers who claim to have techniques to consciously leave the body and have an amazing adventure in the astral realm.

There’s no dispute that people do experience the sensation of an out-of-body experience during sleep paralysis. The point is whether it’s best explained in biological terms, or whether there really are other realms which a part of you is capable of accessing.

Again it’s a question of belief and I’m not here to tell you either way what you should think. You may even feel that both explanations can co-exist.

There are many websites claiming that Sleep Paralysis has a biological cause, but can then be used as a springboard to try to attempt astral projection. An online search will turn up many, though I won’t reference any in particular.

I also recently came across what’s actually quite a sensible book explaining how to do this. It’s called ‘Sleep Paralysis: A Guide to Hypnagogic Visions and Visitors of the Night’.

It provides a detailed background to sleep paralysis, but also aims to help you find a way to convert sleep paralysis into a lucid dream. The point being that you can then take control of the experience and turn it into something positive.

And if you think that’s a ridiculous and impossible idea (especially if your personal experience has been terrifying!), you’ll find several detailed comments below from readers who report trying to do exactly that.

They have some inspiring stories of viewing sleep paralysis as a positive thing which they enjoy because of the unique and fascinating experiences it brings them.

Choosing to believe in astral worlds that you can access and fly around in doing whatever you please sounds harmless and fun. If I’m honest I’d like to believe it’s possible – even though I’m not convinced.

But choosing to believe you’re having the life sucked out of you by a sleep paralysis demon doesn’t sound like such a healthy belief to hold.

How to stop sleep paralysis

What medical treatment is available?

Fortunately, sleep paralysis is something which most people experience just a few times and so no treatment is required.

However, if it persists and you find it highly disturbing and disruptive to your sleep and daily life, then you may find speaking to a doctor about it helpful. These are the main options they typically consider:

  • They may refer you to a sleep specialist to rule out the possibility of Narcolepsy.
  • They may prescribe an anti-depressant medication for a short period such as Clomipramine which is known to alter your REM sleep, and therefore help with reducing the paralysis and hallucinations.
  • They might consider whether there’s an underlying mental illness if you’re experiencing hallucinations outside of the sleeping environment.
  • They would explain the biological processes involved in sleep paralysis, as outlined above, in the hope that educating you about sleep will help you accept it as a normal occurrence.
  • They might talk to you about having healthy sleep habits, which is known to help reduce many sleep problems. You can find these practical techniques covered extensively in the section here on sleep hygiene.

How to stop sleep paralysis – tips and techniques provided by readers

In the comments below, many readers have explained how they either deal with or stop sleep paralysis. Firstly, I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone for the ideas.

Secondly, you should know that I’m simply going to list the ideas which might help; for many of these there’s no evidence that they work beyond the fact that some people say they do. Remember that what works for one person may not for you.

  • Don’t let yourself become sleep deprived as it often happens more then.
  • Try to keep a regular routine of going to sleep and waking up.
  • Try to reduce stress and anxiety in your life. These are thought to be triggers for sleep paralysis.
  • Stay calm and try not to panic.
  • Try to wiggle just one finger or a toe. Some say this is more achievable than trying to move your whole body. Then you can try to move the hand or foot and slowly wake up the whole body.
  • Tell yourself that you’re actually in control. You can ‘order’ the experience to stop, or whatever you’re seeing to go away.
  • If you feel a weight on your chest, try to imagine there’s something friendly causing it, such as a big happy dog.
  • If it’s happening repeatedly, why not film yourself sleeping? This may be especially useful for people who have experiences where they feel that they have been physically ‘moved’ in their bed by some being, or their furniture has been moved. You would be able to reassure yourself that you weren’t actually dragged out of bed.
  • Try wearing a sleep tracker and see if it records you as being awake or asleep. This can help you work out if it was actually a nightmare or not. It can also help check your heart rate and breathing during the night.
  • Try not to think about what it ‘could’ be that you’re experiencing, seeing, hearing or feeling. Your imagination will probably just go and make up something scary in the darkness.
  • Try to relax and ‘go with it’. Some readers actually enjoy sleep paralysis, and they welcome the opportunity to have out-of-body experiences or see what strange experiences they can have.
  • Don’t sleep on your back. Many people say they only have it in this position.
  • Try to organize your bedroom in a way which makes you feel safe and secure. Look into Feng-Shui to make your bedroom feel peaceful.
  • Don’t hang dressing gowns, coats or hats in places which look like figures in the dark.
  • Don’t read in bed as this can encourage you to fall asleep on your back.
  • Sleep with a night-light on, or with music or the radio so that if you do wake up you aren’t in silent darkness.
  • Remind yourself that nothing bad will happen.
  • Imagine your body rolling from side to side in your mind and count each roll. Eventually you might notice you re-gain control of a body part. Focus on this part and try to grow the capacity for movement from there.
  • Count numbers to focus your mind on something other than the hallucinations.
  • Don’t sleep with a high pillow – some suggest that this effects the supply of blood to the brain.
  • Keep your eyes shut and try to clear your mind instead of focusing on the things you can see.
  • Try squeezing your eyes tightly shut if you’re able to control the muscles around your eyes.
  • Keep well hydrated – drink water before going to bed.
  • Talk about it to family or friends – they may have experienced it too.
  • Write about it here. Some people find it helpful to describe their experience in the comments below.
  • If you have it once, get out of bed for a while to reset the brain. Perhaps also keep a light or music on when you go back to bed.
  • Many people who have a faith say they find prayer can be helpful. Some also say that calling on their religious beliefs and ‘commanding’ what they see to leave helps them.
  • Don’t take recreational drugs.
  • Check if any sleeping pills or herbal remedies you’re taking are causing it – either by discussing it with your doctor, or stopping taking them for a while.
  • Once the episode has passed, it’s good to take a moment to remind yourself that you overcame it again. Tell yourself that you overcame it, are not afraid and will always overcome it.

 How I recently stopped an episode of sleep paralysis

Since writing this article, I hadn’t had a single episode of sleep paralysis, until recently in march 2015. And I’m happy to report that I used two of the techniques in the above list to successfully stop it.

I woke up in the middle of the night to find myself in a strange position with my arms crossed on top of my body, almost like you see with medieval carvings of knights on tombs. And I could literally feel strong hands pinning me down by my wrists.

I have to admit I was immediately scared. The whole event was very blurry, and I think I was having some dream-overlap, but can’t remember exactly what now.

Anyway, luckily two things sprung to mind after a brief moment of panic: ‘stay calm’, I said to myself, and ‘wiggle a finger’.

The calmness I only managed with moderate success, perhaps because this was the first episode in a long time so I was caught out by it. But I did manage to focus my efforts on wiggling a finger. For some reason, despite trying to wiggle just one finger, it seemed like my body wanted to try and wiggle all of them.

In the haze of the night and the moment it felt pretty odd, like my fingers were wiggling in different directions. But I guess that’s possibly due to the disconnect between by body and brain with the paralysis.

Eventually I felt my arms loosen as well, and then pretty soon afterwards I was able to shake the whole sensation away as I regained full control.

What I then did I still think is a little strange. Despite having the overwhelming feeling that something had physically held me down, I decided not to turn a light on to reassure myself.

I spend a lot of my time reading and replying to comments about this article, so I think the scientific explanation is now firmly etched in my mind. Maybe I didn’t feel the need to double-check that there was someone or something in the room with me.

Instead I spent a few minutes doing some breathing exercises to ground myself and calm down, and then fell asleep again.

The mere fact that I knew about the finger wiggling technique was enough for my brain to remember to do it when the sleep paralysis occurred.

So my recommendation, from personal experience, is to plant that thought in your mind too!

Further Reading

During 2013, a British team of film-makers, researchers and academics worked on an interesting project exploring sleep paralysis.

They produced a slightly scary documentary and also have an excellent website with detailed information about sleep paralysis. You can visit the sleep paralysis project website for more information.

You might find some useful ideas in my article discussing how to stop nightmares and night terrors. I think you can definitely put some of those tips into practice and see if they help at all.

For any readers wondering if there’s a genetic factor involved in sleep paralysis, it seems that there could be. A study by researchers at Sheffield University in England in 2015 showed this in their research into twins who experience sleep paralysis.

Your views

It’s always fascinating to hear your sleep paralysis stories, and I know that many people find it helpful to have a place to describe what happened to them.

Moreover, other readers find it helpful to know they’re not alone and perhaps find someone who’s had similar experiences.

So feel free to talk about your experience of sleep paralysis, and if you have any tips or techniques for dealing with it, I may add them to the growing list of practical solutions.

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1,810 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I’ve had several over the years. Last night was the worst of them. I had one SP during the night, and was pretty freaked out by it. Until now, I had no idea what it was. About 10 minutes later it occurred again after I tried to go back to sleep, and everytime I closed my eyes and drifted off it happened again, and again. This lasted for about 2 hours before I finally fell asleep without issues. I had the feeling something was holding me down, and yelling at me.

    • Hi Jayla
      Thanks for your comment. Have you spoken to your doctor about getting sleep paralysis during the day? It might be a good idea, just to check you don’t have narcolepsy.

  • So,I get that people want to give things like this a scientific explanation, and I appreciate your article… however, there are some of us that experience things that feel a little big beyond explanation.

    I have been experiencing ‘”sleep paralysis” a few times a month for a while. I ALWAYS have some sort of visionary or auditory, or both, experience. Experiences such as a demonic being having sex with me, a red and black creature crawling across the floor, behind me, then over me. I’ll hear talking, occasionally a growling noise. I’ve had something come over and pull my hand to get up. I don’t understand this kind of phenomenon well… but to think it is just a simple explanation is silly.

    During REM, the brain releases a chemical known as DMT. We only experience this chemical once when we are born, during REM, and right before the soul leave the body in death…. so who’s to say that if the mind is concise during this active release of DMT, that people aren’t experience a part of reality, or unreality, that they usually would not be able to??…

    • Hi Sydney
      Thanks for your comment. I understand you have a different point of view, but I don’t think it’s silly to think it’s a simple explanation – often in life the simplest explanation is indeed the right one. You know that the theory of DMT being produced during REM sleep is just a theory, right? It’s not a widely accepted concept at all. And besides, even if it is, it would only strengthen the theory that the experiences people have are hallucinations.

  • I have been having a horrible time with what might be sleep paralysis with hallucinations for many years. I’m a 54 year old female. Mine actually starts with hearing and feeling a “whooshing” sound in my head. My eyes are closed but I am still awake. I then get very heavy eyelids and go to sleep briefly. I think I have a short dream, then start experiencing the sleep paralysis, the feeling of fear and dread, and think I am trying to scream for help or reaching desperately for my husband. A couple times I actually started growling or yelling like a demon myself. I know I am not doing these things because my husband is always awake beside me. This starts on my side always. It is becoming to be 4 or 5 times a week. I also have the feeling of not being able to breathe and upon waking I have the racing pounding heart. For the first time last night I felt myself being pulled from behind. Also for the first time I actually got the words “help me” out of mouth and my husband heard me. I am starting to fear going to sleep. Lastly I do have “pull” myself awake. It’s harder every time. I feel helpless and don’t know who to see. I told my doctor and he didn’t know what fl say.

    • Hi Jill
      Thanks for your comment. Sorry to hear you’ve had such a difficult time sleeping. That sounds very frightening so I can understand your concern. I think it’s important to not allow yourself to be scared about going to sleep though. Perhaps have another look at the tips in the article and see if they can help you prevent it in the first place, and if it does happen again deal with it quicker.

  • I have suffered over the years and have had relgious people come and cleanse my home. I movex home to a new area, but over the last few weeks I have had several attacks, last night I had two. These however were different..I never had paralysis..my arms and body were free to move, as I took control and told the attack to go away. Why am I not getting the paralysis bit?

    • Hi Rachae
      Thanks for your comment. You probably didn’t get the paralysis part because it wasn’t sleep paralysis. If you saw or felt strange things in the room, it could have been hypagogic hallucinations instead.

  • For the past month or so, I am feeling that something gets into my body , Where I cannot move, cannot make sound, I mean literally can’t do anything. This is happening saturday night 12 AM (i.e Sunday Early Morning). It been happening exactly same time same day for the past month or so. I dont know what to do.

    • Hi Raj
      Thanks for your comment. It could be sleep paralysis you’ve experienced, in which case try the tips in the article – especially staying calm and trying to move a finger or toe.

  • Hi
    I have lived in my home for 8 years and it’s been going on for under a year now but one night I felt scared in my daughters room sleeping with her in her bed with her. She’s 4. So anyhow I fell asleep and woke up laying down but my arms holding someone but not hit were position as if I was. I immediately flew under the covers. So since then and by the way this usually happens between 3-430am but mostly around 4am. So I would go to sleep well put my phone down and get comfy and would be immediately sucked in with a strong force and would come face to face with a demon form. We would very forcefully but not touch and yell/ scream at each other’s face. There’s certain things I know I shouldn’t do but am not aware of these until it happens. I am awake this whole time and fight myself in and out of these several times. There’s times I’ll be woken up and it’s 4am. I don’t understand why this happens and the last time it happened was a week ago and it went on from 2-330 am until my daughter came out of her room to come find me on the couch where I like to sleep a lot. It’s always the same forceful feel. All black and just face to face with a demon like creature and just screaming.

    • Hi Shanin
      Thanks for your comment. I’m not sure if this is sleep paralysis, or perhaps just a vivid hypnagogic hallucination. Try this tips in the article though as you might find they help you deal with it.

  • I know its a really scary thing to experience in your sleep. Sometimes I feel not only sleep paralysis but this invisible ticklish feeling around me by something or someone but i get overwhelmed by great fear. But also has to do with sleep paralysis. Unable to move or scream, I sometimes start to feel this ‘something tickling me and im so scared out pf my wits, and it usually lasts the whole time im paralyzed. And sometimes when i finally start to wake up, (not exactly) I can still see an image of what i last seen from my dream come sticking into reality and it ends up slowly fading away from sight. And after a couple of seconds of staring into the exact same spot where i last saw that image I blink my eyes and just try to relax for a moment until i feel ok to go back to sleep. Im only 14 and this has been happening too many times for me and Im kinda getting used to it, im ready when it starts to happen again whenever yet it is still very frightening and i never forget it. And when the sleep paralysis happens, sometimes i see a tall dark shadowy figure who I feel is the intruder in my dreams, i feel like he has been haunting my dreams and appearing out of nowhere and THE FUN BEGINS, im paralyzed, nothing i can rly do. And once i was in a dream where he visited and i became paralyzed, i can kinda remember some words he said when he came and he said something like, its booman, That sounded a little uneasy for me, booman? Like boogeyman or something like that? Then i moved my eyes in front of me and this figure was on top of my bed and looking nearly down at me and i thought of it being my mom for some reason so i called out, help me, wake me up please, but in spanish but the figure only stood there, i couldnt see its face and its head was shaped weirdly, Ik, i was paralyzed but i did actually manage to utter a few slow but very quiet words, but still not move at all. And times where i feel i am paralyzed and i see my mom dad sister brother whatever in the room with me doing whatever they’re doing not even noticing me even if I’m trying to call out to them, no one can hear me or even look at me, or are awate that im in the same room with them, its like they’re just ignoring me. And i get so desperate for them to notice that i need to be waken up.

    • Hi Joanna
      Thanks for your comment. It sounds like you’ve had quite a lot of scary sleep paralysis experiences and also nightmares. If it happens again, try the trick of wiggling a finger or toe if you can remember to. It’s a good way to focus your mind on something other than the things you see and help you get out of it quicker.

  • Love the site and happy to see knowledge and support for this… Frustration that we share.
    I have been having sleep paralysis episodes since I was about 14-15 I believe. My father and my brother through my father both had episodes fairly often but no one some about it because we all thought we were crazy.
    My brothers through my mom never had an episode in their life, so it may be in other places in your family tree.
    My experience with sleep paralysis has been much more frequent than anyone I have spoken to, however it is much less traumatic to me. From 16-25 I would have an episode anywhere from once every 2-3 days, to the weeks where I would have 4 episodes a day. I’ve fallen asleep on my chest and had an episode with my fave buried in a pillow, I thought I was going to die lol. And I’ve fallen asleep with my kindle in my hand, to wake up and watch the clock tick away 40 min of time paralyzed.
    However, I have never once felt threatened by a presence or felt pressure on me anywhere. I’m just paralyzed and that’s bizarre and frustrating.
    In my time with sp I’ve come to some conclusions of my own. They may or may not work for you, and you may or may not like my opinion, but that’s OK I respect that.
    Firstly, there is nothing supernatural, otherworldly, demonic, or even scary about sleep paralysis. I know how scared you feel, but it’s just that, a feeling. Which brings me to

    You will NOT die or be hurt because of this condition. Why you ask? Because if a real threat, pain, or a person shakes you, you WILL wake up. Your body is asleep and your mind is awake, that is all.

    For ME it can happen in any position, or any amount of sleep, however I do suggest a good quality and quantity of sleep if you want to help prevent it.

    There has yet to be any trick that has worked for me to break out of an episode. UNLESS I can get someone to touch me on the arm or something. Which I can do because I figured out how to whine like a puppy.

    If you can make any noise, then you can train a service dog to be your savior.

    Also I do want to put it out there, that Marijuana has had absolutely no positive OR negative impact on the frequency nor severity of my episodes.
    Can’t say for alcohol however.

    My final and the BEST advice for how to deal with an episode, is to close your eyes and go back to sleep. Seriously though, if you can take a breath and get your wits about you, going back to sleep is an instant fix.

    I have more but I feel like I’ve typed enough lol.

    • Hi Klint
      Thanks for your comment, and I’m really pleased you like the site. Thanks for all your ideas and thoughts about sleep paralysis. It’s interesting to hear what you have to say about the ways you deal with it. I agree that if you can stay calm and go back to sleep, it’s a good way to deal with it. Many people will find that perhaps they need to get up and do something normal with a light on for a while to reassure themselves, but if you can drift off again it’s obviously a quicker way to get through it and it doesn’t let the episode ruin your whole night.

  • I had this before too .. In many years ago Sometimes I would have a snooze during the day and wait for dinner then I would hear my mother calling my name and she would be not making the dinner but tidying she’d say I didn’t call you. Sometimes I would wake up in the middle of the night and hear a conversation between my mother and sister and wake up in the eveyone sleeping and my sister no longer staying there but living elsewhere , heard my door open woke up drowsy to a pressure on my shoulders I lying in a bunk bed and to my left I thought a alien was standing there making me feel the way I was feeling I felt I was at its mercy I had no idea that i was paralysed.

    • Hi Aaron
      Thanks for your comment. It may be that you had sleep paralysis, but also if you’re not sure you were paralyzed, it could have been just the hypnagogic hallucinations that often go with sleep paralysis.

      • Its very unusual and I don’t know how science explains this or why I am seeing things that aren’t meant to exist OK I can remember dreaming about a dinosaur from Jurassic parks but dinosaurs once existed.

        • Hi Aaron
          The brain is an amazingly creative and active thing – sometimes that’s one of the best things to remember when we start seeing things that aren’t real!

  • I dont know how to start seriously….i have had many such experiences since childhood. Nw i m 25 and this being the latest one. My 2 yrs old daughter was unwell so she woke up in the middle of the night at around 3 or 4 am and started to cry loudly with her eyes closed and she stiffened her legs as if some body was pulling her tightly but everything settled down within few minutes and she fell back to sleep again. Soon after that i woke up breathing heavily as if somebody was trying to crush me down and shouting for help but unable to move i m trying to call out my husband beside me by pulling ou his hand which is above my head but he is not at all aware. After i smtime i m ok i woke up to see that my husband’s hands were above his chest. I did not want to wake him up and disturb his sleep so i went back to sleep again. The second reason why i did not wake him was previously when i complained him about such experince he made fun of me and said start 5hinking constructively. This in sm way increased my self confidence that i cud fight back such situations. The most intetesting part was to come now.the same morning at around 7 am my husband woke me up terrified saying that something was hsitting on his chest and holding him tightly and he had to breathe in difficulty. All these incidents happened between 3 to 7 am. So i am all confused if all of this was just sleep paralysis or something else. Please somebody respond asap.

    • Hi Madhuru
      Thanks for your comment. I can appreciate why you’re concerned after these experiences. It does sounds like it could have been sleep paralysis from what you describe. Try not to worry about it too much, and try to use techniques such as wiggling a finger and remaining calm if it happens again.

  • Very interesting read and hopefully I never experience it as bad as a lot of people. It’s been happening to me a few times a year since I was 18 years old (I’m now 24) and luckily I’ve never had any visual hallucinations. It usually occurs as I am falling asleep after waking in the middle of the night. I am pretty familiar with the feeling so usually, after trying to move my hands/arms with all my might, I am usually able to fight it off and sit up. Last night I decided to test it a little bit and was met with overwhelming auditory hallucinations. It sounded and felt like there was some kind of electric buzz starting in my ears and then moving deep into my brain. It would grow louder and radiate throughout my body the longer I felt myself slipping into the SP until I would force myself to move. It was much too intense to endure after a certain point so I had to wake up for a while before attempting to sleep again. I was wondering if you’ve ever heard of anything like this before or if any other readers have experienced this. Thanks.

    • Hi Chriszh
      Thanks for your comment. I think many readers have mentioned similar types of auditory hallucinations, in the comments here but also in the articles about exploding head syndrome and hypagogic hallucinations. If you check those out, you might find something similar in the comments. I wish I could point exact ones out, but there are too many to go through right now!

  • Have had sleep paralysis once in a while since a teen. I just try to shake every part of my body. Usually takes 2 to 5 seconds to regain conscienceness. Didnt see things or feel things. Just couldn’t move.

    I will also add that i can feel pain in dreams sometimes. Pinching or bruising pains.

    Recently have had very bad social anxiety. Last two nights ive seen and felt things.
    Woke up, and saw a bug on the couch crawling slowly. Tried swatting it 3 times before i realized it wasnt there. Fell back asleep

    This morning was really scary. I kept thinking about demons or black figures. My girlfriend sees black things even during the day and when she wakes up at night. So im Just paranoid, looking around and jumpy.

    I fall asleep and felt something grab my right wrist and pull me half way out of bed. There was a growling, buzzing noise. I did the shaking thing and woke up looking at the wall. It was morning so i could see.

    I saw a little pixelated smiling demon or black thing walking 2-d and then like explode or something. That made me laugh and say. “Was that supposed to be scary? That was just funny”

    I feel like if you are really worried or paranoid that something is going to grab you or pin you. Its going to happen more. Im going to just go with the flow. Emphasis on the word try.

    Because obviously the only thing these things can do is scare you, you might as well just try messin with them or view them as entertaining.

    It is usually going to be something you are scared of anxious about. If people are scared, or interested in aliens, they will probably manifest as aliens. If you like video games, you might see a pixelated Nintendo demon.

    • Hi Adam
      Thanks for your comment. I agree that it’s good to either go with the flow or take calm action – like wiggling a finger – to deal with sleep paralysis. I think the worst thing is to panic, but that’s obviously not always easy in the moment!

  • Hi

    I had sleep paralysis two nights ago,
    I was sleeping in bed on my side and saw a demon of some sort on my partners chest stabbing him in the face.
    I tried to wave my arms and yell and kick my partner but I couldn’t move at all.
    It was annoyed with me for trying to move and make noise and swiped at me but just went back to my partner.
    I closed my eyes to focus on moving my arm and eventually manged to have use of it but the creature was gone.
    Very creepy!!

    • Hi Charmaine
      Thanks for your comment. That sounds very unpleasant indeed! If it happens again, try the techniques in the article. Hopefully you’ll be able to stop it sooner next time.

  • Is it still sleep paralysis if lets say you wake up the next morning but still feel that you are being watched by a dark presence

    • Hi Milo
      Thanks for your comment. No, I think for it to be sleep paralysis you do need to actually feel the inability to physically move.

  • I have been experiencing Sleep paralysis for a long time now, it started when i was 7 and i used to experience it 3 to 5 times a month.

    SP is a state of a subconscious mind, it lasts for a few seconds to minutes. When i was younger i was afraid to sleep cause SP was new to me but over 21 years i got used to it and am not frightned anymore.

    Based on my experiences with SP, i have notices three types of SP
    1. Good Feeling
    2. Future Vision
    3. Bad Feeling

    The posture of sleeping did not have any effect, i encountred SP while sleeping on my sides, sleeping on my back, sleeping on my stomach, while in seated position and sleeping on a chair, during the day time, at nights, in a room with lights on or off, sleeping next to a person, with music and Tv on ……….SP would come.

    Good Feeling: While in SP state, i usually see one or two persons dressed in white and gold and the sky would be colorful, bright lights ever where, smiling faces, laughter, i will be jumping up from earth in to the clouds and appearing places and it was like a big amusement adventure feeling like a kid in the play area having fun, ive walked under water, floated in air when i woke up from the SP i felt a deep feeling of love, happiness and peace

    Future Vision: Usually i get to see things that are going to happen within the hour to things that will happen after a year, natural calamities, accidents, people, situstions but never woked up in a panic mode but a bit worried of what was to come and said a pray, it was more like a communication relm where i was shown what was going to happen.

    Bad SP : My chest feels heavy, like im being crushed benath tons of rock, i see dark figures, mutant animals and birds and creatures of evil looks, whose height ranged from 20feet tall to tiny creatures tiny as a golf ball, i rebuked them and commanded them to leave in Jesus name and i would be free and wake up with a burning feeling, hot and radiating heat, sweating as if i came out of a shower.

    • Hi John
      Thanks for your comment. Your breakdown of the 3 types is very interesting. If only everyone had more of the good version than the bad, it would be so much easier to cope with. Sadly, I think most people aren’t so fortunate as to have the lighter experiences and have to deal with the bad sleep paralysis kind that you describe.

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