Sleep Paralysis Stories – Intruder, Demon Or Delusion?

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 have 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 demon


Imagine, 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 then 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 where I now know many readers encounter a problem: although sleep paralysis has a solid scientific explanation (as you’ll see in a minute), the feeling of those weird events 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?

Poll 1

What is your experience of sleep paralysis?

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 Poll 2

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being not scared and 10 being terrified, how does sleep paralysis make you feel?

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Poll 3

How often do you experience sleep paralysis?

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Poll 4

How old were you when you first experienced sleep paralysis?

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Poll 5

What helps you stop an episode of sleep paralysis?

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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 you experience it:

  • Some people experience sleep paralysis at the start of the night. While falling asleep, the body naturally relaxes and you would normally lose consciousness. But if you remain aware that you are falling asleep your mind can remain alert while the body shuts down.
  • Alternatively, it can happen after you’ve already been asleep. 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 the brain ‘switches off’ your muscles to prevent you from acting out your dreams, which could of course be dangerous. Sometimes you might wake up mentally in the middle of this stage, but the body may take a while to catch up and remain ‘frozen’, leading to the awake experience of sleep paralysis.


How does science explain the weird things you see, hear or feel?

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 is an intruder or other ‘presence’ in the room.
  2. That there is 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, you might feel a blockage in the airway, and when you try to breathe deeply you may feel that you can’t. This can then lead to either the feeling of being strangled or a presence pushing down on your chest. This then feeds into your ‘threat vigilance system’.
  • 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 when waking up but feeling paralyzed, and 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 a 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 third kind of happening – 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. When you’re not actually moving, there is a confusion in understanding where your body is, with the result that you feel like you are floating.


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 map onto your physical senses.

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 stories


If 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 a human intruder 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 believe in supernatural entities, then there’s probably not a great deal of science that could convince you otherwise. It’s a personal choice to believe in such things, and I respect your choice even if I don’t personally 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 for you to stop believing 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 come 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 is 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 bother 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 is a separate part of you that is 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 spirit, dream or astral realm.

There is 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 am 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 is 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.

  • Stay calm and try not to panic. Panic and fighting it often makes it worse.
  • 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 (or cat if you don’t like dogs).
  • 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 are 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 are not 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 let yourself become sleep deprived or too tired as it often happens more then.
  • Try to deal with stress in your life, as periods of stress and change can make it worse.
  • 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 are 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, change sleeping position before trying to sleep again. Perhaps also keep a light or music on.
  • 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 exciting project exploring sleep paralysis. They produced an interesting, if 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.


Poll 6  – open to votes

What do you think about the scientific explanation for sleep paralysis?

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Your views

It’s always fascinating to hear reader’s 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.

If you look below you’ll see that there are a several pages of comments, and it can take several hours to read through them. Feel free to read through, but to help you find the right place to leave your own comment rather than replying to others, you can click below:
Leave A Comment >>


1,390 Responses to “Sleep Paralysis Stories – Intruder, Demon Or Delusion?”

  1. Cheryl says:

    I’ve been having night terrors since I was younger but they’ve gotten more common and worse in the past couple months. I’m a freshman in college so I’m assuming it’s due to anxiety. I had one of my worst experiences during a nap between classes today though. I think I had just fallen asleep, on my back which is abnormal for me, and I woke up but I couldn’t move. Then I heard something rummaging through my stuff to my left. It just looked like a dark figure going through all my stuff looking for something and then it turned towards me. Then it started slowly coming towards me and I started panicking even more. Whenever it happens I always wake myself up by trying to control my breathing. I try to breathe deeply to get my body to move. It took what felt like forever to work and then I woke up and calmed down. Then I went back to sleep and I don’t know if I’m remembering it wrong but I think it happened two more times during the same nap. It’s awful because after I actually get out of bed and think about how vivid it was it makes me terrified to go to sleep again. I’m definitely going to try the techniques for waking yourself up next time it happens though.

    • Hi Cheryl
      Thanks for your comment. Another reader also recently said they find breathing helps to control sleep paralysis. Hopefully some of the other tips will also help you to get through it quicker.

  2. Rochelle says:

    Scariest thing I ever experienced in my life. I’m 48 now. It happened about 8 years ago. Remember waking up on my my back pinned to the bed unable to move. Hovering above me was a blanket of black mist…. Purely evil. I could not move and didn’t want to anyway …. Too scared. I also felt a separate scary presence in the room. I prayed… I’m a Christian… And I felt sure this was the fight between good and evil. When it finally lifted and I could move I remember rolling over to my husband… Still scared to make any noise thinking it would come back!! I just cried! I seriously thought it was the Devil… Until Now! 8 years later and I came across these articles about Sleep Paralysis. Now I feel a huge PHEW……

    • Hi Rochelle
      Thanks for your comment. I can understand why it seemed so profound at the time. Sleep paralysis can be very vivid, feel very real and leave you wondering what on earth is going on. I’m glad that the article has finally given you a sigh of relief about it.


  3. Diana Carrillo says:

    I have experienced some sort SP for a years… had been what I called “the spirit cat”. Frequently during the night I would feel the sensation of a cat jumping up onto my bed. I had no cat or dog when this began, however, I did have a cat in the past so I was familiar with that sensation. This went on several years at least 4-5 nights a week. I was not really frightening to me at the time. It was more annoying more than anything else.
    I moved to New Mexico from California in 2004. It wasn’t long until it started up again. I was staying at my parents home when I first arrived and I slept with my mom in her queen size bed. The occurrences would occur just before dawn when it was still dark. Now, it not only jump up on the bed, it would actually start walking between me and my mom. At first I did not say anything to her about it. I did not want her to think I was a weirdo. After about a month though my mom woke up and woke me up telling me that she felt something jump up on the bed. I was surprised but still did not say anything. A couple of days later we both felt it at the same time woke up at the same time. We laid there and could feel the “spirit cat”move up towards us…… was freaky ! I tried to look at it when I was able to move. After that, both of us were having this occur at the same time. We could just lay there and feel it on the bed. Then it would just “go away”. Then my mom started feeling it even when she would nape in the afternoon. FINALLY, I decided to tell her that I had been feeling this for years. My mom was feeling more frightened after she knew that. I felt because I thought I had brought something bad to her home. QUESTION….CAN TWO PEOPLE HAVE SP HAPPEN AT THE SAME TIME?
    I moved to my own condo and had not felt anything for a couple of years. Then it started again but with a twist…now it tugged on my blankets as well. This has continued a few times a month getting more and more aggressive getting up in my face .Just the other day, during the afternoon i laid down for a nap and I actually saw the corner of my blanket by my face moving up and down . quickly . Night before last I had a horrible SP night terror , I HOPE. It was dawn but still dark. I was woken up with the sensation of the spirit cat but this time I was “stuck” to the bed unable to move or speak. I tried to call out but could not….then I could hear a voice on my right side by my bed. A horrible little creepy voice making awful growl noises. It was horrific !!!!

    I have not slept there since !!! I have been traumatized!!!! Now, I don’t know what to do. I am really frightened. I would like to think that this was just a real scientifically explained occurrence but, given my other experiences and shared experiences with my mom, I wonder if this could be a new and more dangerously frightening phase of a real paranormal experience….
    HELP !!!!

    • Hi Diana
      Thanks for your comment. I can understand why you might be worried, but my personal opinion is that it’s not a paranormal experience. Sleep paralysis has a widely accepted scientific explanation, and although it’s not common for two people to experience it at the same time, it has been known to happen. Why you both felt the same thing, I can’t explain. But I wouldn’t put too much thought into it. There are lots of good tips in the article, especially from other readers. Have another look at them and try them out if it happens again.

  4. peevmik says:

    I have been.experiencing sleep paralysis for quite a long time now…but not frequently …i did experience it today though..that’s why i read this article…i remember back at our old house i used to experience it almost every day…i thought the house was haunted given the fact that it was really very old…and.there were some.people who died there before we rented it …so i was acustomed to the habit of putting a bible under my pillow when i go to may seem stupid but it did help..afer that we moved to a new house and i totally stopped having sleep paralysis …then i moved out from my parents house and got a condo which I live in alone….then the sleep paralysis started coming back but it was not like the old days it happens only when i go to sleep really angry or stressed…and sometimes worried..i really get terrified when it happens and start fighting with all my power and also usually stops within seconds…then i get up in my dark room smile at my cowardly behavior and go back to sleep…

    • Hi Peevmik
      Thanks for your comment. I don’t think it’s cowardly at all – many people find sleep paralysis very scary, and we all have our own natural reaction and way of dealing with it. It’s good that it doesn’t last too long. Hopefully with the tips in the article you’ll feel even better equipped to deal with it.


  5. Denise says:

    I experience sp every time I sleep outside of a full night, even if I wake early & try to go back to sleep I get it. My eyes are open & I’m always on my side, seeing my lamp & fan, with usually a hand in front of my face. The lamp & fan are sideways, because I’m laying down…duh. My best bet is to roll with it & play with lucid dreaming until I wake out of it. I’m writing because I just had a weird experience waking from a early evening nap. I heard spirit voices in the room. ( I’m a ghost hunter and am well aware of recorded spirit voices & experience disembodied voices in my home almost daily while awake. ) I have a migraine so have been ignoring them today. I usually never see anyone in sleep paralysis but was woken out of it with a jolt & bright white light in my eyes, my crossed arms flew up like I was being electrocuted. I was pissed & told the spirits off & said a prayer. I know earlier this afternoon that I was getting warned of something dark that was lurking. I know I sound crazy, just have too much concrete evidence to laugh it off. Praying usually keeps us safe, just have never experienced the jolt before, not cool. I realize it was probably something like exploding head, just came at a time that mixed my waking & sleeping experiences together.

    • Hi Denise
      Thanks for your comment. I think many people who have sleep paralysis regularly, but generally find it ok to deal with, eventually have some new kind of experiences which take the fear factor to a whole new level. The trick is to try to keep that calmness no matter what. It’s great that you manage to play around with lucid dreaming. But as a firm believer in ghosts, I guess you must find it harder to stay calm. Where do you you do your ghost hunting out of interest?

  6. Becca says:

    Sometimes I think I see a 10 ft tall black transparent ghost thing in my doorway…I am terrified of the dark …have been since age 7. …I am frozen…sometimes I hear deep voices before I sleep…the worst part is when I see a transparent ghost thing inches from my face…I can’t move…when that happens…I try to scream but its only in my head…

    Anyone else have this severe of scary shit.. I also think my curtains move…

  7. trisha says:

    hello i have had these half awake half asleep dreams about 5 times all happened this past year… but this one i had last night really scared me…i have these when my husband isnt next to me in bed but it did happen once when he was next to me…. n ive noticed i have these only when its raining n storming at nighttime… last night i was lying on my back looking at the clock it was bout 8:30 p.m. i slowly felt my eyes getting heavy n i would open them close them over n over then suddenly the tip of the covers near my face started to rise a lil id pull them back down with my finger tips, thats all i could move, the rest of my body felt paralyzied n it took all my strenght just to do that n it was bc i was scared… but each time id lowered the blankets theyd rise again, then my eyes were focused at the foot of my bed i saw nothing but felt a presence then my eyes followed this shadow as it came from the foot of my bed to my side then to the top of my head… i could see this shadow as it passed by my paralyzied body it was small bout the size of an 9 month old baby but walked on its hands n feet like a caveman n it had no hair, it was bald…. i mumbled go away… it left my head n went back to my feet… i tryed throwing my arms up n moving them as to fight it n i did but they moved so slowly… then something horrifying happed the shadow made a demonic sounding growl… ive never heard this sound before, never have i seen or heard anything in my dream awake state… well i was hoping to scare it away so i growled back but it only made it mad n it growled louder, thats when i was able to move n jolted out of bed… i ran to the living room n cut on all the lights n burst into tears…. i stayed up n waited for my husband to get home but was to embarrased to tell him what happened n was afraid he’d think i was crazy… i dont like these half awake half asleep dreams… never sleeping on my back again…

    • Hi Trisha
      Thanks for your comment. It’s very natural to be scared by sleep paralysis, nightmares and other unsettling experiences that we can have at night. I think it’s good to talk about it though. You can explain to your husband more about it now you’ve read the article. If he does tell you you’re crazy, then perhaps suggest he reads the article, your comment and my response. You’ll notice from the many comments that lots of people have equally and even more disturbing sleep paralysis episodes. It’s actually quite common for people to experience at least once or twice in their lives. Hopefully you’ll also have some ideas for stopping it the next time.

  8. Jacob says:

    I’ve experienced these episodes since I was a young boy—around 5 years of age. I found a couple ways of fighting them and getting out quicker. Generating anger at what I am facing instead of letting fear control me helps greatly. If I see an evil spirit in the hallucination I get mad at it, becoming afraid prolongs the experience for up to several minutes. I also chant an Sikh Mantra (Mool Mantra), not so much because I think it rebukes some evil spirit, but it focuses my energy towards calming myself. It’s a scary thing and I hope one day to find a way to end these. I suffered from one last night actually, and I would hope it to be the last, but I fear not.

    • Hi Jacob
      Thanks for your comment. I actually remember another reader last year saying he did something similar. I recommended finding a way to fight it with a more positive emotion, but he was convinced it was the best way for him. I think it’s interesting though that you seem to have a combination of getting angry and calming yourself.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I think it is natural and one shouldn’t focus on it .if one focuses on such a unreal thing it may become worse.

  10. Jamie says:

    I’m 33 and I have been experiencing this on and off for the past 5 years. I’ve never knew what it was. I just now started researching it. Before it was just me waking up not able to move and hearing voices. Terrified the hell out of me, I can’t move and I barely can talk. Being a religious woman but not uber religious all I can do is start THINKING the prayer the Lord is my Shepard till I can start voicing it. Last night was the worse, I actually saw what folklore has told us what a demon looks like, he was big gray with lots of teeth and red eyes , he was on my chest growling at me saying me and my parents were going to die. I just kept screaming Lord And Shepard over and over finally one of my dogs started barking and I really think that’s what pulled me out. I’m terrified to fall asleep tonight and have to go to work in the morning. I have no clue how to fight this anymore. Tonight I have both Lcats snuggled close and my bible under my pillow. HELP

    • Hi Jamie
      Thanks for your comment. Sorry to hear you had such a frightening experience – I can appreciate why you feel so worried about it. I think it’s important though not to allow the fear of SP to keep you up. It’s good practice to remind yourself that nothing bad actually happened the last time, apart from the fear of course, and that nothing bad will happen again. If you find religious mantras help, then go for it. But I’d also suggest trying some of the readers’ tips as well. Hopefully they will help.

  11. Mark says:

    I have this happen to me since i was, i can only remember as far back as a teenager. Im 31 now and it only happened last week. And it usually happens sometimes a couple times a night. Straight after the last one. Like, seconds after the last one. Or a cuple times a week. Or once a month or so. Its a reoccurring dream anyways. I dont know that ive fell asleep. I debate on wether i did or not. But none the less, im suddenly lying there, paralysed, sometimes i feel myself going into it, being pulled in before it happens and i just lift my head n change position keeping myself awake for a bit. If i do slip into it i lie there suddenly aware of a dark scary figure in the room. I feel scared but cant move and always struggle but eventually jerk my whole body waking myself up. Although im always sure im awake. as everything i can see is the same. Not like a dream where your in a different place or the surroundings are different. Everything is the same. Making me believe im awake. But the fact that id literally “fell asleep” proves to me that i havent carried something scary from a dream.. to the waking world. When i do wake myself up i get up turn on the lights, look under my bed n lie there for a bit wonder about it. Eventually sleeping with the light on. Its troubling. Ive had experiences when ive lived with family. Ive heard them walking around and ive tried to cry “help” and i think ive got the words out but not loud enough. And again have jerked my body after trying so intensly, but eventually.
    It seems to me too that maybe it is the body falling behind the mind at times but i struggle with that as there is a dark scary figure.
    Maybe we where about to dream of this dark figure? But if so. That would mean this dark figure is in all of our dreams. Yet we dont remember it. Because we all find it in DP. Yet never any other time.
    Also, just a theory, but all that ever comes out of dreams, into the real world, are premonitions, or phsycism, and considering how common this dream is, maybe there is something in it. I consider the fact that how death is our biggest fear, that we would premonise it in dreams, which makes me worry about us being stuck like that when we pass ect… A lot to say really, but pulling away from the facts so enough said.
    I just think its a very scary thing to happen, that there is a logical explanation. But also, maybe a supernatural one. Im very open minded and think for myself a lot so i find it hard to take in the scientific explanation for it. Its something that will always trouble me, and probably something i will never fully understand.

    • Hi Mark
      Thanks for your comment and for sharing your ideas about sleep paralysis. It’s good that you keep an open mind and try to think things through for yourself. But I do also think in some cases, it’s in our benefit to try and just go with what science tells us, especially where the alternative is so scary for many people.
      I think maybe there’s something in what you say about how we share a common fear about death, so perhaps that’s one reason why in sleep paralysis the fear kicks in and it triggers our brain’s creation of things which we might associate with pain, suffering or death.
      Hopefully it won’t trouble you forever though. At some point I’m sure you’ll find a way to rationalize it and stay calm about sleep paralysis.

  12. Jose Uribe says:

    On a school day I fell asleep on the couch doing homework at 12 am and around 5am I woke up and saw a green light through the window, I tried to move but I couldn’t, then I tried calling for help but I couldn’t move my lips, I felt like I was taken by the green light. It was a horrible experience

    • Hi Jose
      Thanks for your comment. It sounds like you might have had sleep paralysis. Funnily enough, some researchers think that sleep paralysis like the one you describe is a reason why some people believe they were abducted by aliens. It feels real, seeing lights or strange beings. But actually it’s just your brain playing tricks on you. So try not to worry about it – you’ll be fine.

  13. Brittney says:

    I just had a SP experience last night, which is why I’m reading this article. I was EXHAUSTED, school was long and I only got about 3 hours of sleep the night before.

    (I was laying on my side with the blankets completely covering me during all of this, not on my back)

    First time I was falling sleep, it felt like some kind of ghost or person was pulling the blankets off of me, but of course I would open my eyes or move my hand, and the blanket would still be there. That happened a couple times, and it really freaked me out. I didn’t want to fall asleep because I was THAT scared that, I dunno a ghost was gonna get me or something. Then suddenly it felt like i was on some kind of roller-coaster, like i was swaying back and forth and flipping upside down in my own bed. that happened for what felt like 30 seconds, but was probably longer. And then, everything was still, and I couldn’t move. But I could see my bedroom. Perfectly, which i knew was impossible because i still had the blankets on me, and I KNEW I still had them on me, though I couldn’t actually SEE them. It was really weird. I felt like some kind of ghost was is the room with me. I got these weird short vision of a dark face behind me, on the other side of the bed. Of course i wasn’t even FACING that direction, so it was a weird dream of sorts. I knew all of this was happening, and i tried to wake myself up with my breathing. I started to breathe really rapidly and unevenly, thinking maybe it would wake my body up. It didn’t work. I was stuck in the weird, paralyzed, vision-seeking state for what felt like forever. And I was really scared. Then, my alarm was going off, and I couldn’t turn it off. I still couldn’t move. Then I guess the noise ACTUALLY woke me up, and I turned it off. So apparently I was in a SP state all night. Or maybe I missed little parts. I don’t know. It really freaked me out.

    Maybe this Isn’t considered Sleep Paralysis, but I’ve read a bunch of articles, and it definitely seems like that’s what happened to me. I’m honestly scared to go to bed again tonight, I’m afraid it’ll happen again. HOPEFULLY IT DOESN’T. That was NOT a fun experience.

    • Hi Brittney
      Thanks for your comment. I can understand why you were so scared – I think it’s normal to feel that way after such an intense experience. It does sound like sleep paralysis to me that you had. Maybe you fell in and out of sleep a few times and kept having it, which does sometimes happen.
      Try not to allow it to ruin your sleep though. It’s important to not allow fear to keep you awake. Tell yourself that you can overcome it if it happens again, and try to put it out of your mind before going to bed once you’ve reminded yourself that nothing bad will actually happen. And of course, there are lots of good tips you can use in the article to both prevent it hopefully and deal with it if it happens again.

  14. Jorge says:

    I once read that holding your breath can force you to wake up. Whenever I’ve had sleep paralysis I just stop breathing and in a few moments I regain control.

    • Hi Jorge
      Thanks for your comment, and interesting suggestion! I haven’t heard that one before, but might give it a go if I remember the next time I have sleep paralysis.

  15. Steve says:

    Ive been experiencing sleep paralysis for 2 years now and I simply don’t accept the scientific explanation.
    2 years ago, I was laying in my bed on a beautiful sunny morning around 8am. Without warning my bed started shaking violently. I immediately thought it was an earthquake. However I soon discovered there was no earthquake anywhere in Australia that day.
    This began to happen on a regular basis. It was at this time my sleep paralysis episodes started. I have woken up many times during the night by my bed shaking violently. One night I woke up and sat up in bed. I turned my light on and the bed was still shaking.
    I yelled out to whatever was causing it to stop. A moment later I heard a knocking noise. I looked over to the table along side my bed and to my shock I saw a statue of Jesus (which my mother placed there) rocking from side to side all on its own. it only stopped when I took hold of it to make it stop. My bed doesn’t shake so much these days, however it’ now feels like something is inside my mattress.
    My mattress is memory foam, not inner Spring, but often I’m woken up in the night by something kicking punching and pushing me from inside the mattress. Several months ago I was sitting on the side of my bed mid afternoon talking to someone on the phone when my bed suddenly started to vibrate at a very high frequency. I was astounded to say the least. On another occasion about 12 months ago I was home alone and someone or something hit me fairly hard across the back of my head. I turned around but there was nothing to see. Over the next 30 to 40 seconds or so I was hit a total of 5 times on the head. It was quite hard and in no way imagined.
    When I experience sleep paralysis I’m often woken up first by the feeling of an overwhelming presence. Then the paralysis sets in and I have to fight like hell before it lets me go.
    The above is a brief overview of my experience and I absolutely know that science is wrong on this one. I am in no doubt at all that what I am experiencing is supernatural.

    • Hi Steve
      Thanks for your comment, and sorry to hear that you’ve had so many unpleasant experiences. I don’t agree that it’s paranormal, as I’m sure you’d expect me to say! But you are of course entitled to your viewpoint and opinion. Can I ask what you’ve tried to do about it, or what you’re planning to do? How do you cope still living there when you have to deal with all these things? Do you not find it too scary to stay there if you believe you experience supernatural attacks so regularly?

  16. Marie Gillespie says:

    I have experienced sleep paralysis on and off since I was a child. I used to be terrified thinking it was some kind of evil spirit in the room, but since I’ve got older and researced about it I got over it and decided to use it for lucid dreaming. And I’ve generally had positive experiences untill today…

    So before I went into sleep paralysis I was having a dream where I was searching for someone but I had no idea what they looked like. So when I woke up I decided to send myself into sleep paralysis to find them. As I did the usually things happened where I felt the pull and heard the buzzing. Then a series of images flashed in front of me really fast searching for the face of the person I wanted but I couldn’t get a clear image, so I decide to go further down into the paralysis and the pull and buzz got worse, I did this a third time and as the images got clearer the paralysis became uncomfortable like the pull was painful on my jaw and I had to wake up. At this point it got strange as when I was struggling against it I was able to come out of my body and throw myself of the bed still being pulled to the floor and with a lot of effort stand, it was unbearable by this point where I couldn’t just wait it out so I screamed and then woke. When I did I was laying peacefully in my bed with my heart rate a lot faster than usual.

    The strange thing about this was the fact that I could change the depth of the paralysis and felt pain, which has never happened before. The outer body experience was also new.

    I like the idea of controlling the paralysis and using it for lucid dreaming, but this was weird. I will try and experiment a little more next time it happens. But has anyone else experienced a pain or discomfort before?

    • Hi Marie
      Thanks for your comment. Other readers have experienced pain and discomfort before – some saying it continues into the next day after waking up. But I don’t remember anyone talking about it happening after trying to intentionally use sleep paralysis for lucid dreaming or other purposes. Perhaps someone who is following this thread will respond to you.
      Good luck with your experiments though – it sounds very interesting!

  17. Arien says:

    I was around 15-16 when I experienced my first episode of SP. I took a nap in bed and I could feel my father beside me, watching television in my room since the one in the master bedroom went for repairs. And I could feel my dad there, see him, his clothes, hear the tv, feel him shifting about- everything, but I couldn’t move. At all.
    Suddenly, I felt like I wasn’t alone. It felt like emotional embodiment of goosebumps, or a chill down your spine. I felt like something evil was there. I don’t believe in the supernatural, but I felt highly threathened. Then on the other side of the room, there stood this tall, black, omnious, wavy ghost-like figure with no face floating near the windows. I was terrified because everytime I would shut my eyes it seemed to move closer to me. I felt paralyzed, I knew my dad was next to me yet I couldn’t call out to him or move because I felt so stuck in place, my limbs weighed like lead and just no matter how hard I wanted to move- and trust me I wanted to move pretty bad- I couldn’t. And this figure kept moving closer to me everytime I closed my eyes until suddenly it disappeared. It was gone. It was still hard to breathe and I felt a malevolent prescence but I couldn’t see it anymore. So my eyes closed again, and when I opened them the next time, the figure was hovering about 15 cm away from my face. I can’t tell you how bad I wanted to scream and cry and but I couldn’t. I was terrified.
    But my eyes shut again and just like that it was gone. I didn’t see it after that, and I woke up a bit later, still a bit shaky. I didn’t really have a coping method or a way to snap out of it, I’m not religious either so I didn’t pray during or after it since my first guess was it was a type of lucid dreaming? But I had no idea what to do, all I knew was I wanted it to end. It hasn’t happened to me since, and I read somewhere it happens usually only once during a person’s lifetime, and I’m hoping that’s true because I really don’t want that to happen again. But at least now I have an idea of what to do if it does. Thanks for this.

    • Hi Arien
      Thanks for your comment. It does sound like you experienced sleep paralysis, and not a lucid dream to answer your question. I’m glad you feel that you have some things you can do if it happens again.

  18. michael says:

    Ive had plenty of these experiences while growing up. Although i havent had an experience like that recently, there is always one incident that i remember so vividly. I was sleeping on a blow up air mattress while staying the night at my grandparents house. I had woken up laying on my side, and i couldnt move. I couldnt speak. I could only stare at what was in front of me. which was nothing but the door that leads to the hallway. I felt something sharp wrap around my ankle. Almost like a big hand digging its nails into my skin. I tried yelling but it wouldnt work for the longest time. But the moment my voice actually worked, everything stopped. I woke up the next morning and my ankle was sore. Figured it was just a cramp or something. but for some reason I havent been able to forget that experience. And I havent had that sort of experience while laying on my back or feeling pressure in my chest. Just always feels like someone is there. watching me. Guess its sorta nice to know im not the only one who has been through this. But it sucks to know at the same time. This stuff is scary.

    • Mi Michael
      Thanks for your comment. I agree that it can be very scary. You’re definitely not the only one, and also not the only one who has felt a physical reminder the next day. My take on that is that either our brain creates a ‘phantom’ feeling of injury or pain, or that during the night we somehow twist, knock or strain part of the body which then becomes involved in the sleep paralysis. So in the morning we associate that pain with the experience we had.

  19. Joe F. says:

    I only experience sleep paralysis while falling asleep. It occurs with me feeling like I’m fully awake looking at the ceiling and then I’m paralyzed but I can still move my eyes around the room. There is always an alien looking at me. It took me years to figure out this only occurs when I’m falling asleep on my back so I rarely sleep on my back. I also experience the jerking awake or falling sometimes when falling asleep on my back.

    • Hi Joe
      Thanks for your comment. Many previous readers have reported it happens more on their back, so I can understand the desire to not do so. Hopefully you’ll manage to stave off more episodes this way.

  20. Susan says:

    Hello Ethan,

    None of this should be confused with a real and very rare medical condition called Periodic Paralysis. It is a mineral metabolic disorder in which the improper shifting of potassium in and out of the muscles creates full-body paralysis. For some people they cannot move, speak, talk and it is accompanied with heart issues (arrhythmia and heart rate), blood pressure issues (fluctuating), breathing issues, low oxygen levels, choking and possible death. These can last for hours.

    Sleep can be a trigger and it can occur at any time, not just during sleep. One can hear everything going on around them and appear either asleep or unconscious. We do not have feelings of ghosts, spirits or monsters nearby…but a real fear of wondering if we are going to come out of it without dying from the heart arrhythmia or if our breathing stops.

    These episodes are brought on by many triggers…certain foods, medications, cold, heat, different aspects of sleep, exercise, anesthesia, IV’s, alcohol, stress, salt, sugar carbohydrates and much more….

    If you have anyone responding to this article with these kind of symptoms…clearly not “sleep paralysis” you way want to refer them to the Periodic Paralysis Network (I am the Managing Director)because this is a very serious medical condition and needs medical attention….

    Thank you

    • Hi Susan
      Thanks for your comment and for sharing this information and advice. Perhaps you’d like to write a small paragraph which I could include in the article, with very specific symptoms and advice?

  21. Eunice says:

    Once every month or so, I have sleeping paralysis. I wake up not being able to move or to talk. I try to wiggle my finger and scream at the same time ( I find it that it helps). But that’s it, I’ve never felt an “intruder” or a demon before. Until this recent sleeping paralysis. I slept on my side. Next thing I know, I woke up, not able to move, etc, but this time I felt someone hugging me tightly from behind. I could feel its body pressed tightly next to mine. It was breathing hard into my ear. And it said “I love you” in this tortured voice. So, I panicked and I tried to scream. Which helped to regain control of my body. So the big question is why now am I receiving these strange visits, when before I didn’t?
    Furthermore, I found your article helpful and reassuring. Its better to cope if you believe the scientific explanation verus there is something more. Thanks

    • Hi Eunice
      Thanks for your comment. To be honest I think nobody knows why the content of sleep paralysis episodes suddenly changes or people. I imagine there are lots of different factors which can contribute to it.
      I’m glad you found the article helpful, and I agree that it’s much more reassuring to believe the scientific explanation.

  22. Yayus says:

    I’ve been experiencing SP since I was about 11 years old. In the beginning it started off with the basics I’ve read here on the site, the inability to move or speak, feeling an unwelcome presence, and of course being wide awake. Although it was quite terrifying as it was happening I was glad to come out of it after a few moments and relieved to to find I hadn’t been hurt. As I got older it started happening more frequently, incidentally it was around the point in my life where I’d left religion behind to take a more spiritual approach to life, again the SP did not have any affect on my behavior nor did I feel the need to investigate it. A. because I consider myself a logical person, so automatically I assumed that although I was awake my body simply hadn’t caught up to my mind after awakening. B. There was no evidence of what may have caused the event after I was fully functional. Then around 21 something changed during an experience with SP, I couldn’t move or speak being wide awake, but this time I could hear people walking around and speaking, I couldn’t understand the language, but that’s beside the point. What scared me was I didn’t just feel there was something or someone around I could hear them plain as a California day. When I was able to move I searched my house frantically. I was some when I went to sleep and as you can imagine I was alone when I woke. I thought about this incident for days. When I went to class is spoke with my psychology professor about it abs she told me this was a common phenomena and I was quite comfortable with her explanation as she elaborated on details I hadn’t brought up. As the years passed I was confident 8n my understanding of SP and that it was not something to be afraid of. I WAS WRONG! Very recently I experienced SP, typical scenario. I woke up in the middle of the night in bed lying on my side,after realizing I couldn’t move my plan was just to wait for it to pass, but that plan was not mine to decide as I lie there, there was no sound, but three figures in my room that I could clearly see in the dark. If I try to explain the way they looked I’d have to describe them as very tall 3 dimensional shadows with one arm that led into what seemed like a point instead of fingers. There were two standing over my shoulder and one standing by my room door that was wide open. I started to cry then one put there arm on the top of my right shoulder turning my body to a flat position, my face was trapped inside my pillow and I could no longer see what was happening. When it was all over and I gained control over my body I sat up to run and turn on all of the lights in the house, but upon coming into a sitting position I felt an overwhelming pain in my back. I got up anyway turned on all of the lights and of course there’s no one there. For the rest of the night I left the lights on. Finally after getting g back to sleep and waking in the morning I lie there for a moment thinking about the events from the night before. Remembering the pain in my back, that was now gone I sprung up and hurried to the restroom to take a look. With my sanity in tact I truly did not expect to see anything out if the ordinary, but I did, I found 2 identical moles right in the middle on the spine of my back, they are still here today.
    I have no doubt that science and spirituality can co-exist in any scenario. I am an open minded person and truly believe that science is simply God’s way of helping us understand the things we can’t explain. But in all honesty I don’t know what to make of my most recent SP incident. If anyone has any lead on what may have really happened to me that night I’d really appreciate the feedback.

    • Hi Yayus
      Thanks for your comment. I can understand why this last incident shook you up. I’m wondering something – you say they are on spine on your back, a place which most people don’t usually look at because it’s difficult to see our own spine, and not something we generally inspect in a mirror. So could it be that your moles had been appearing for a while, and you just noticed them this day following your incident? And if they did suddenly just pop up, have you been to the doctor to get your skin checked out?

  23. Yowseph Tirfe says:

    I’ve always had sleep paralysis off and on. I enjoyed reading your article, particularly the portion where relating to occurrences when after successfully jarring oneself awake the images from the dream still appear visible and start fading. I’m inclined towards the scientific explanation. It intrigues me that the mind can fool me into believing that these events are outside of me. It also annoys me that it can’t employ it’s creative ability to make me a millionaire instead of pouring it’s resources into scaring the hell out of me!

    • Hi Yowseph
      Thanks for your comment, and I’m glad you found the article interesting. I couldn’t agree more about the power of the mind! One thing I would say though is that there is evidence the brain does try to help us out while we sleep. I wrote an article about how sleep can help problem solving, which you might find interesting. In it I discuss examples of famous people who have woken up with new ideas firmly there for the picking!

  24. Bryony says:

    I’ve experienced sleep paralysis many times as well as hallucinations without the paralysis. In fact, I just experienced one of the weirdest cases of SP I’ve ever had. I must have been half asleep when I had the feeling that I was all fuzzy and was leaving my body, which I don’t usually get and was quite frankly scary. The shock I felt ended that sensation but then I fell asleep and dreamed about taking a shower, without actually feeling the water or any other sensations. Then I ‘woke up’, feeling that there was somebody behind me in my room and hearing sounds like suitcases shuffling. I didn’t believe the person was really there, I sort of felt as though it was a spirit but not a pleasant once so I tried moving and I’m pretty sure I managed to hiss like a cat haha. This time was strange however, because I kept drifting I’m and out of sleep and the sleep paralysis would continue.
    Just because it’s interesting.. Here are some of my other hallucination tales;
    – I once saw a hand typing on my computer keyboard. (It looked like the hand off the Aadams family).
    – During one episode of sleep paralysis, I was (in my mind) dragged into the floor where loads of rats were running around.
    – I turned over one time to see a relection in my window of a man sat in the room behind me, he said to me “you don’t want that”. (God knows!).
    – Countless times I’ve seen hufe spiders crawling across the bed or swinging from wall to wall.
    – I even saw a toddler crawling across the floor once, no thank you.
    – I had a litter of kittens living in my bedroom and one night saw one of said kittens elevated at the end of my bed as if being held Simba style.
    – Countless people in patterns on curtains, coats on doors etc.
    Sleep isn’t always so great.

    • Hi Bryony
      Thanks for your comment and for sharing your sleep paralysis stories. I can understand why sleep isn’t the most attractive thing if you have those kind of experiences on a regular basis. Did you find any useful tips in the article? Perhaps you’ll be able to deal with it better next time, and also if you look at the article about hypnagogic hallucinations, you might find some useful ideas.

  25. Caryn says:

    I have had sleep paralysis several times. Sunday night was the worst where I actually saw a black wispy figure over my left shoulder. I have always awakened myself by yelling out, but this time I had a hard time yelling out. I could hear myself trying and I was making very strange noises until the yell finally came out. I sleep on my right side so I have never felt like someone was on my chest. This past episode disturbed me quite a bit.

    • Hi Caryn
      Thanks for your comment. Perhaps of the yelling doesn’t work, the trick of wiggling a toe or finger might be better for you? Give it a go if it happens again.

  26. Ericka says:

    My experience with sleep paralysis is this, I feel i wake up but cannot move. I feel thteatened and out of sorts. I struggle and fight it, then eventually am able to move all the while reaching for and trying to to find someoone to save me but in super slow motion like i’m in tar.

    • Hi Ericka
      Thanks for your comment. That sounds like a classic case of sleep paralysis indeed! Now you have some tips for dealing with, hopefully you’ll escape the tar sooner next time.


  27. Laurie says:

    I have experienced sleep paralysis and it was very terrifying. Completely paralyzed to the point of real fear. Anyway during these episodes I have heard my name spoken, felt someone in the bed next to me and the lights out. All in one blink then another blink everything is back to normal. The minute my head hits the pillow i know when it will happen. I can feel it. Why does this happen.

    • Hi Laurie
      Thanks for your comment. The explanation for why it happens is in the article above – have a read again of the scientific explanation if you’re not sure still. If you know it’s going to happen, then perhaps you can take action sooner to prevent it – I recommend re-visiting some of the reader’s tips in the article too.

  28. Nirva says:

    My father passed away 3 weeks ago and since then i have been extremely afraid to me alone. I feel his prescence (not that he’s going to harm me or anything). Since his passing,I haven’t been able to sleep. When my husband travels I sleep over my mom’s house. My husband left town today at 5 am and of course I turned on the light and tv knowing I won’t feel comfortable without him there. I was only able to get 4 hours of sleep before my husband had to leave. I tend to sleep on my back with my knees bent. So while I’m watching tv I felt like something slapped my foot. I did not put too much thought into it. Suddenly I blinked and the bedroom light was off but the tv was still on…same show playing. I couldn’t move. I tried screaming but couldn’t….a weird noise did come out for a second. I tried to straighten my legs and my arms but I couldn’t. I don’t know how but I was able to grab my phone that was next to me but I couldn’t unlock (finger wouldn’t move). I tried calling my husband for help but my fingers were stiff. I kept praying and continuously asked God to save me. I blinked and everything was back to normal. Light was on. I’m not sure if this was a dream because my phone was not on the bed but on the night stand. During the episode it was on the bed so I don’t know. It felt so really and I started to cry. Everything last about a minute. I called my sister and she said she that she experienced this for years and for me to wear red underwear to sleep. I’m Haitian and in the Haitian culture it is recommended to wear red when someone close to you passes away so that they do not come and haunt you. There’s not reason for my dad to come after me. We did I don’t believe in demons, ghost or any other supernatural beings. I do believe I experience sleep paralysis but a little bit of me is wandering if it’s something more.

    • Hi Nirva
      Thanks for your comment, and I’m very sorry for the loss of your father. This must be a very difficult time for you, and it’s understandable that the night time is particularly difficult.
      I think it’s most likely that you fell asleep briefly and had a dream. It’s easily confused with sleep paralysis, but I think it was probably a dream.
      If you find that following your cultural traditions helps you to feel secure, then I think that’s a good thing to do. And in time I’m sure you will be able to sleep alone again without problems. Little by little, you will learn to cope as best you can.
      Have you spoken to a counselor about the passing of your father? Sometimes it can be helpful to speak to a grief counselor, even if it’s just one or two sessions. They can help you express yourself and your fears, and to help you find ways to cope.
      All the best

  29. Jessie says:

    Thank you for this article, I found it extremely helpful and informative!

    I’m 30 years old and I have been having sleep paralysis nightmares for several years now. I’ve always considered myself to be a lucid dreamer, being aware enough that I was dreaming to somewhat interact or control the dream. If I was having a nightmare, I’d concentrate waking myself up by saying something or moving a part of my body. My first paralysis experience happened when I dreamed my nightmare was chasing me and then tackled me to the ground. I tried to concentrate on waking up, but the nightmare held me down and told me I’d never be able to wake up. I tried to move my body to wake up, but I couldn’t. A few years later I began having frequent paralysis dreams of an intruder entering my apartment and slowly making his way toward my bedroom. With these dreams I always assumed it was the set up of my apartment, just bad feng shui (from my bed I could see all the way to the front door). When I moved into a different apartment, the dreams stopped. Just recently, my reoccurring paralysis dreams have started up again. It’s always the same – I’m in bed in a half awake state, a shadowed intruder or entity is watching me from the bedroom door, I try to move or shout but I can’t, then suddenly it’s on top of my chest. My breathing gets rapid and heavy, until I can finally move and fully wake up. I often re-experience the nightmare several times, like its on repeat.

    After reading through other comments you mentioned there is a difference between sleep paralysis and nightmares, but I think there is an overlap. I’m not sure if I meet the criteria for sleep paralysis, but based on what I’ve read I feel that is what I’m experiencing.

    I’m confident that these experiences are physiologically based, which has somewhat lessened my fear; but regardless these incidents are always disturbing. I do think that in addition to body position (i.e. sleeping on your back), the organization or feng shui of your bedroom should be taken into consideration. Specifically, your room and especially your bed should be set up in a way that makes you feel safe and secure. I also feel that just as our muscles have “muscle memory,” our brain does something similar with these experiences. This would help explain the repetition of the nightmares and how the content is often the same.

    Again, thank you for this article and forum for people to share their experiences. I’m sure this has been helpful to a great number of people!

    • Hi Jessie
      Thanks for your comment and for sharing your story. I’m glad you found the article and space to share helpful – thanks for saying so!
      You’re right in that I think there is a difference between sleep paralysis and nightmares in which you are paralyzed. In fact, reading your comment I thought at first that you were describing a nightmare. But then a bit later it seems you describe actual sleep paralysis.
      I think there is sometimes some overlap, in that people may wake up with their dream content still kind of ‘playing’ and then have the sensation of paralysis in their bed, with the dream then ‘mapping onto’ their reality.

      But a lot of the time I think people simply get confused. They dream of being paralyzed, then google “dreaming of a demon paralyzing me and can’t move” or some variation thereof, find my article, and it makes sense to them.

      The real test lies simply in whether you’re mentally awake or not. It really does just come down to that! If you’re dreaming and fully asleep, it’s not sleep paralysis.

      I like your idea of feng-shui in the bedroom, so I will add that to the list of readers’s tips!

      Many thanks

  30. Farris Alston says:

    I just had my first ‘sleep paralysis’ moment and during it I had the sensation of not only someone being in my room but a demonic voice growling and calling my name. After reading this article I didn’t notice you mention anything about name calling, just wondering if this is also an effect of sleep paralysis…

    • Hi Farris
      Thanks for your comment. I don’t talk about that specifically, but I know for a fact that other readers have also experienced hallucinations in which their names are called. So don’t worry – you’re not the only one!

  31. Brandy says:

    I’ve had this happen to me for years… Several times in one night at times! I would be so scared to fall asleep! I think the most in one night it has happened was 3 times in one night. It was always the devil involed.. He was either chasing me or trying to steal my soul. The last time which was several months ago I knew he was trying to take my soul.. I figured out if I keep saying in the name of Jesus it would disappear. The last time I repeated and repeated over and over in the name of Jesus it wouldn’t get off me. It was literally trying to rip my soul out… My thought was Jesus isn’t with me anymore. He has given up on me. I cried and prayed to God I was so sorry for not living the way I was suppose to but please God please help me. The devil himself left me. That night I almost gave up. I was tired of fighting this demon.. I almost let him take my soul. I felt like if I did I was gonna die. It was the very first time in years of this happening to me I felt death was upon me.
    I can’t move, talk, scream, and with me I have never gotten to even open my eyes.. It’s been a few months and I pray it won’t happen again… I know it will tho! It’s a scary thing to deal with. I’m glad it’s not every night anymore. It started at 15. It would happen every other night sometimes a few nights in a row. When I had it several times in one night I was 28. It would happen everytime I close my eyes to sleep. I didn’t want to sleep. I dreaded closing my eyes. I was so scared wondering if this was ever going to stop. Praying just for one night of a normal life.. Just please God let this end. Think it happened almost every night or every other night for the next 2 years.. I was terrified. It finally stopped and now it’s just back here and there. Not much anymore not as frequent. But tat last time I felt death. I know if I let that thing take my soul I wasn’t going to wake up. I’ll never forget that feeling.

    • Hi Brandy
      Thanks for your comment. I can understand your fear, especially if you believe that it is the Devil himself attacking you during sleep paralysis. I’m not sure if it will offer much solace, but from my point of view I think you’ll be fine. Perhaps have a think about all the tips in the article, try out some of them and hopefully you will be able to deal with it better the next time it happens.

  32. Christina Sanchez says:

    After reading this article I now know what happened to me last night. I’m a 21 year old female and I experienced sleep paralysis. I was in bed ready for a night of rest around 10:00pm the previous day. I remember watching videos on Youtube and falling asleep fast. Around 12:00am my boyfriend calls my cell to wish me a goodnight therefore waking me up from my sleep. I tried to fall back asleep but didn’t get to until around 2:00am. In my sleep I felt a certain entity strangling me. I walk by faith and was shouting “I rebuke you in name of the father” and felt relief for a few minutes. Like the article states my body felt frozen and could not move. In my dream I kept telling myself “Its just a dream wake up now”. Yet the dream went on this time I saw this entity on my grandmother who’s room is next to mine. In my dream I helped her out by saying the same thing to this entity and it then vanished. I woke up with my heart pumping fast, my hands felt magnetized to my stomach and I was laying on my back. All in all I went right back to bed and woke up fine the next morning. When I discussed my story with my coworkers they said that since I’ve changed my diet it may have caused this dream. I remember my mother telling me when I was a little girl that she had dreamt something similar to what I experienced last night.

    • Hi Christina
      Thanks for your comment. It seems like you were actually dreaming of being frozen – something quite common. That in itself isn’t sleep paralysis though – just a nightmare. But when you woke up and felt your hands magnetized to your body, if you weren’t able to move at this point, that would be sleep paralysis.

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