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-Sui 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.

Finally, in 2016 another UK study looked into the fascinating connection between sleep paralysis and lucid dreaming. They all examined the relationship between sleep paralysis and well-being, poor sleep and stress.

Please read before leaving a comment

After 3 years of personally replying to comments, I’ve decided to leave this amazing and helpful discussion to readers. I will still read them all before publishing to make sure the content is suitable for younger readers, but time constraints mean I have to focus my attention on other parts of the site.

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 still add them to the growing list of practical solutions.

Leave a comment >>

2,696 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Thanks for the website and articles made upon such great topics .
    Firstly, I would like to take you back on flashback of my last 15 days when i have started listening to the so called binaural waves(ALPHA, DELTA,THETA and so on). I found an article,on there benefits to the brain and body(they enhance concentration , reaction time and good body growth) and i decided to try few of them(specially Delta binaural on 1.05 Htz ).I also listened to other waves but mostly focused on Delta(i probably listened to them 2-3 hrs daily in my free time because it suited my taste and i felt good while hearing it ), in the beginning every thing was ok and also i felt somewhat relaxed. But to my surprise after a few time( say 4-5 days) i got to experience some paranormal and psychic experiences(such as feeling someone is standing or sitting besides me and i could see people talking ,even my family members while my eyes were closed).To my wonder ,it happened on the 7th day that i was able to predict the next tracks which were played on T.V..even i could feel when someone was about to enter my room . Also i felt whistles in my head while listening to the waves. I know it sounds weird but this is the actual Case.But the limits were crossed last night when i was about to sleep , the sound and intensity of whistle increased and i felt a fearful face looking at me(maybe she was a bitch ). I was unable to move my body and a constant wave (like i listened while used to hear Delta waves) was flowing inside my body and mind . A flow of energy and wind was also present there inside my body and i was totally paralyzed. After that i woke up(maybe after 2-3 minutes) in fear and was still hearing some sounds of people talking.I was unable to sleep after that for 2 hrs ,but then i got back to a regular sleep with some fear. I checked few websites in the morning to find few hints but was unable to find anything (only a webpage claiming paranormal activities may occur due to excessive exposure to delta waves) solid. I’m worried now. should i continue with the waves because they are not the reason (or they are) for all this. PLEASE HELP!

    • Hi there

      Thanks for your comment. The first thing I would say is that seems like an enormous amount of time to be listening to those sounds! My advice would be to reduce it to maybe once every day or two and perhaps just for 10-20 minutes. But before then, stop completely for a week or two and see if the other things stop happening to you. I think it would also probably be a good idea to speak to a doctor about this, and they will hopefully be able to provide some guidance for you regarding listening to the binaural waves, and the effect it may be having on you.
      All the best

  • This has happen to me numerous times and I believe its a demon or a spirit, becuase as soon as I start calling on the name of Jesus through my mind becuase Im struggling with my voice. It releases me. Just start saying Jesus JESUS and watch how it release you.

    • Hi Dave,

      Thanks for your comment. It’s up to you what to believe of course, and many people have found that prayer is helpful when they have sleep paralysis. If it helps, then that’s the important thing.

  • Interesting. I have had sleep paralysis in the past but up until the most recent 2 events I’ve simply brushed it off. It is a little uncomfortable, but I never until now felt any fear. Most bouts of SP for me are spread apart by many months or even years. This was within the last 3 weeks.

    I am not a particularly spiritual or superstitious person. I don’t believe in the existence of demons and the like. But the last 2 times I have had sleep paralysis, I have had an extremely disturbing and frightening ‘dream’ to go along with it.

    In it, I’m laying in my bed in the same position I fell asleep in and feel a presence. Somehow, I ‘knew’ it was an demonic entity in the dream.I could not move, though I tried with all my might. That feeling of being weighted down is the most frightening part. I asked, in my mind, for whatever being was in my room to shake my bed. And both times, the bed under my head began to vibrate, shake, and then stopped. I still could not move for minutes later and felt the presence.

    I knew these were lucid dreams because of the feeling I got when I woke fully but both were so specifically accurate to my physical state and the state of my room that it makes me wonder. Most dreams have some kind of inaccuracy, some kind of details that aren’t perfect. Lucid dreaming does not begin to explain the idea of the same presence in both. Especially when I explicitly do not believe in such forces.

    • Hi Gabby

      Thanks for your comment. I am slightly confused though, as from your description, it doesn’t appear to be sleep paralysis, but rather a recurring dream in which you are dreaming of being in bed, with the presence in both occasions. This is not technically sleep paralysis, as you were still asleep in both. Did you wake up at any point to find yourself consciously awake in your actual bed, but unable to physically move, and then sense the presence was really in your bedroom? This would be sleep paralysis!

  • Although I’ve had sleep paralysis dreams since a kid, at least six to eight times a year, there was one year when I lived at an apartment complex, and I had them almost nightly. It got so bad, that I tried sleeping on the couch, but they continued until I moved. I still have them, but not that frequent. Those were terrifying, as I would wake up and I could hear the air conditioning (or heater) slowing down like it was breaking down, and everytime it would almost die out, the lights would dim. I knew I had to get up and turn on the lights because there was something in the wall coming for me, and in the darkness, it would take me. I knew I was really asleep, but I watched it all happening with my eyes open, and I couldn’t reach out for the lamp. There were nights that I didn’t go back to sleep. The paralysis and trying to scream and turn over, is bad too, but the thing(s) in the wall will remain the worst.

    • Hi Sherrie

      Thanks for your comment. That must have been horrible, having sleep paralysis so regularly. And the wall thing sounds particularly unpleasant, especially with the recurring nature. Thank goodness it doesn’t happen so much anymore.

      I hope you found one or two techniques in the article which you can try. I think it’s a good idea to have some ‘tools’ to deal with it, and there are some effective and practical tips you can try next time.

      All the best

  • The First Time Having Sleep Paralysis Was When I Was 13. I’m 16 And Last Night Was My 3rd Time Experiencing Sleep Paralysis. I Could See Myself Getting A Midnight Snack And Going Back Upstairs In My Room To Sleep. When I Reached The Stairs, I Saw Fiji The Demon At The Top Of My Stairs And He Was Yelling Something At Me. I Don’t Remember What He Said. Then All Of A Sudden, I Saw Myself In Bed. I Had No Idea If I Was Awake Or If It Was Just A Dream. It Felt Like I Was Somewhere Else And Felt Like I Was Floating…
    I Tried Moving And Rolling Over By The Wall, But I Couldn’t. I Tried Screaming “Help” Or “No !” I Just Couldn’t Open My Mouth. I Looked Up At The Ceiling And I Saw A Dark Shadow Looking At Me. After I Was Fully Conscious I Still Could Feel An Evil Presence Standing By Me Looking Down At Me.
    My Oldest Brother Is 19 And He Experienced Sleep Paralysis Alot Of Times And His Are Really Bad. I Think Because He Has Schizophrenia And That Makes It Worse. I Was There When He First Had That. My Dad Was Outside And I Was Trying To Sleep On The Couch. All Of A Sudden I Heard My Brother Saying “Karla, Karla” I Said “What ?” He Said “Help Me” It Was Like He Was Able To Hear Me In His Dream. He Then Started Talking Like A Demon Was Inside Of Him Or Something.

    • Hi Karla,

      Thank you for your comment. I think when people have the kind of experience you describe, it’s difficult to say whether it’s just a very vivid dream, or sleep paralysis which has become an out-of-body type of experience. And perhaps only you would be able to work that out by thinking about the exact details. For example, at any point were you consciously aware that you were in your bed, but unable to mover your body? Or is your only memory one of being in the house and seeing these figures? If so it may be that you were dreaming of being in your house.
      And your brother’s experience may also have been a nightmare or night terror. It’s very hard to distinguish sometimes!
      All the best

  • I have had two episodes of sleep paralysis, but neither involved intruders, demons, or an out-of-body experience. My first was when I was about 15 or so, and all it was was that I was awake, but I couldn’t open my eyes or move my arms and legs, and I felt like I was falling. The second one was actually today, while I was napping (I’m now 20); I remember being shirtless and my abdomen turning inside-out. I pushed it back in to try to fix it, but then all the skin from my face was there (my nose and other features). I tried to get the skin back up to my face, but I couldn’t move or even open my eyes (everything went black as soon as I saw my facial features appear on my abdomen). It definitely sounds like sleep paralysis, except for the intruder/demon part of it.

    • Hi Nicole,

      Thanks for your comment. The first episode sounds like it could be sleep paralysis. The second one is a bit confusing though. I’m not sure what you mean exactly, not how you managed to move the skin around. It sounds like a nightmare rather than sleep paralysis! If you could explain in more detail what happened exactly, I’d be interested to hear about it.

  • hi,

    I think I encountered my first experience of SP last night at the age of 24. while falling asleep on my side.i felt a strange pushing sensation on my back, then two hands around my neck. my whole back vibrated, I was terrified and struggling to lasted for a couple of minutes, I could see a black figure out of the corner of my eye but couldnt stop it or speak.when it had finished i could see a black shadow on my wall of aman with a hood up that stayed there for the next hour or so. im totally freaked out and still havent been able to sleep since.
    my back and neck are aching today.


    • Hi Beth

      Thanks for your comment, and it sounds like you may have experiences a classic case of sleep paralysis. The first one is always the scariest it seems, and often it’s the only one, so hopefully this will have been an unpleasant one-off.
      I do recommend equipping yourself with a couple of techniques for dealing with it if it happens again though. I personally recommend the wiggling finger one! I’ve tried this myself recently and it worked:-)
      All the best

  • HI, I experienced my first ever sleep paralysis last night and found it very scary and felt very real! It must of been in the waking in stage. I remember everything. At first I saw the volume on the telly go up and down so in my dream i turned the telly off. (I knew i was dreaming after as the telly was in a complete different place) Then my partner stated to shout “no get off me” and although I was asleep it felt like I was awake and felt so real i saw what was going on. Then all of a sudden I felt a presence walked around my bed to me and that’s when I became paralysed and felt I couldn’t move, open my eyes or even shout out even though I was trying to. I was also calling for my dad thinking he was next to me to help me, I just couldn’t get the words out. And when I finally opened my eyes I shouted out DAD and everything was normal. It’s such a scary experience when it happens the first time but after reading this it has put my mind at ease.

    • Hi Danielle,

      Thank your for your comment, and I think you’re right about sleep paralysis being particularly scary the first time it happens. And I’m glad you feel a bit better after reading the article. I’m not sure from your description though whether you were consciously awake but paralyzed physically in the bed, or dreaming that you were in your bedroom. They are two very different things. Which do you think it was?
      All the best

  • I just experienced my first SP paralysis that I vividly remember last night. I’m 27 years old and have had nightmares on and off for years, including the tendency to scream during nightmares that I’ll fail to remember the next morning. (this was mainly around the ages of 12-14) However, what I experienced last night was completely different and extremely scary.

    The dream started off with me sitting in my church in the usual spot that I sit during a service. My late Grandfather (who died this past May) walked into the service and sat on the back pew. I noticed him at the service and tried to get the attention of everyone else, however it was like I was the only one that could see him. He looked virtually the same as he did at the time of his passing, except that he his hairline had receded slightly. (he never lost any hair at all) After this scene, I was whisked back to a room and was randomly discussing American Idol with some unknown individual. I remember mentioning a certain contestant’s name and the other individual agreeing with me that they were a good singer. Some time seemed to pass during this sequence and I started discussing the same American Idol contestant with another unknown individual. The individual stated that this person wasn’t on American Idol and didn’t even exist in real life. I remember getting extremely paranoid at this time and started thinking that the government was out to get me. Also, I remember seeing a fake zebra running with a herd of African animals during this time period. (random, I know)

    After the fake American Idol contestant discussion, I was then whisked back to the church and another service. I was sitting in same spot as usual and I heard the door open. I turned around and my dead Granfather was leading a group of zombies into the church service. I knew several of the individuals (none of whom are dead), but I vividly remember that they all had cuts on their faces and were screaming. I also remember looking back at the pew and all of their faces were turning black. The rest of the people in the congregation still were oblivious to the situation, but I then slowly noticed that other people were realizing what was going on. I remember asking my Grandma if she had talked to my Granddad and she screamed “Yeah, he just cussed me out and that was it! The zombies routinely returned to the church service and just continued to hiss and scream the entire time. I also remember climbing a rock wall and that my church put on an ice skating performance (to songs from Frozen) during the time. The final situation which caused me to wake up was whenever one of my Mom’s teacher friends walked up to me in the lobby of the church and told me that they had paid someone to play my Granddad, but that the others were real.

    I immediately was woken up and in a state of complete immobility. The covers were pushed up to my head and I felt the odd sensation that was someone was immediately beside me. To get out of this state, I started wiggling my hands and that seemed to work to an extent. I was then gripped with the fear that my family had been murdered and I managed to run out of the room to make sure they were still alive. Whenever I realized that my sister was still there (her room is right next to mine), I slowly started feeling better. I walked to the kitchen and noticed that it was 6:39 AM, but had a constant dread that something was going to be in my bed whenever I returned back to my room. I just sat there and didn’t fall back asleep until the sun came up. Words can’t describe the intense fear of waking up and feeling what I felt.

    • Hi Josh,

      Thank you for your comment and for sharing your sleep paralysis story. I can understand why your were so scared by this very unpleasant-sounding experience. I think the combination of waking up remembering such a vivid dream, and then being paralyzed and having the feelings that you did, inevitably makes for a scary time.
      I think you naturally found one of the best techniques for dealing with the paralysis, which is to focus on wiggling just one part of your body at first. As for the not wanting to go back to sleep, well I’m not surprised, and I think many people have that same reluctance after something like this.
      Hopefully it will be a one-off in terms of how vivid and scary it was. But if it does happen again, try to stay as calm as possible. Remember that you’ve been through it once, and everything was ok in the end. And so it will be again if it happens again.
      All the best

  • Hello. I began getting SP about 7 years ago. Im 37 now. At first i was petrified. I had no idea what was happening to me. Ive learned over the past couple years that this is more common that I thought. Over the past couple years my wife has become used to my SP as it comes and goes. Sometimes ill experience it 3 times in a week, sometimes it will go 5 months without an experience. My wife says that i begin shaking and begin to almost moan in my sleep. She will then shake me until I wake up (when she is awake). It feels like she saves me after I wake up. What makes my situation unique is that its the same out of body experience now when SP happens. I wake up in my sleep and lie paralyzed. Its awful. I yell for my wife to help me. I pull away from my body as hard as i possibly can to attempt to wake myself. I Actually have some senses that allow me to feel her next to me. I will pinch her as hard as i can as i scream for her to help me. I competely feel her as I do this. In reality, all that is happening from her point of view is me shaking and moaning. Now, from my point of view, in my SP i can see her laying next to me. I see a perfect sleeping image of her next to me. Its as if i am completely coherent, awake iside my sleeping body. About 5 seconds later, I see her transparent “being” sit up from her sleeping body (with her sleeping body, still laying in the bed) and shake me and yell at me to wake up. The disturbing thing is that she is not sitting up at all. Shes still sleeping. My soul or my “being” or whatever you want to call it is communicating with my wife’s soul or “being” all happening while out bodies are aspleep. It may sound nuts but it happens all the time so i am not imagining it. Now heres the story that validates my experience. Last night i fell asleep in my bed, next to my 5 yr old daughter. My wife fell asleep down stairs on the coach. It a special night for my little girl because she got to “sleep with daddy”. About a half hour after falling asleep, i got my first SP experience in a month or so. It started out as a nightmare as it usually does and then bam! I am left paralyzed, wide awake inside my body. I (my being) can usually pull away from my paralyzed body a couple inches but obviously cannot leave my body as i am still “connected”. I was trying to pull away from my body to wake up as i usually do and i see my daughter sit up out of her sleeping body right next to me. She then reached out her arms and grabbed me and pulled me to wake me up as I was yelling for her or someone to help me. I completely felt her yank my arm. Then i suddenly woke up, my daughter sound asleep next to me. Can you or anyone make any sense of this? Its nuts but i assure you that this is what I am experiencing. My head always hurts the next day from my soul or being yanking away from my brain or inside my head. The inside of my head always hurts the next day. I completely believe that there is a scientific explaination as to why this happening but what is going on during SP is an out of body experience. There is no doubt.


    • Hi Geoff,

      Thanks for your comment and for sharing your fascinating sleep paralysis stories. First of all, to reply to the additional comment you posted, as you can now see, your comment wasn’t deleted. That must have just been how it appeared on your phone, or the fact that you didn’t notice a message saying it was being held for moderation.

      I moderate all comments for three reasons. Firstly to ensure my spam filter hasn’t missed any junk, of which I get hundreds every day! Secondly, because I edit comments which are unreadable due to a total lack of punctuation and/or a huge amount of spelling mistakes. And thirdly because sometimes people write extraordinarily explicit comments describing horrific nightmares, which I simply can’t publish as they would offend and/or terrify some younger and more sensitive readers. Sorry if it felt like you had wasted your time writing it!

      Now, as for your actual comment, to be honest I’m not sure I can provide any clarity on what you experience. I do believe that people have out-of-body types of experiences, though I’m not sure I understand exactly what is happening. But why you would experience your wife and child’s ‘being’ as you say interacting with you, I have no idea. It could be that it’s a part of your hallucinatory experience, and just extremely vivid and life-life. But I would just be guessing and offering my own personal opinion on it.

      What I have come to understand from reading the hundreds of comment here, and on similar articles about other strange things which happen in your sleep, is that even when there is a common connection, or ‘diagnosis’ so to speak, there is an almost endless range of different experiences people have.

      From my point of view, I choose to believe that they are all hallucinations, and that’s that. I know many people disagree with me and think there are supernatural things at play, religious forces or other realms of existence. But I think each and every experience described can be explained in terms of our mind’s incredible capacity to hallucinate, dream, imagine and create things. And of course the fact that our body often moves about and does things while we sleep, and there are many physiological processes happening while we fall asleep, sleep, and wake up.

      As to why your head hurts the next day, I simply don’t know. If you feel that it’s because your soul or being is being yanked about, then that must be quite stressful to have to deal with and think about. So hopefully you’ll find something in this article which you can put into action to try and stop it happening in the future. Perhaps a technique for moving a part of your body might help to divert your intention from the OOB experience, ground you again and help you come out of it.

      All the best

  • Just got done with an SP experience not 10 minutes ago. I have been trying to document my habbits and activities to try and find a correlation. The SP’s are not so bad anymore because I have trained myself not to give in to them. I don’t try to move, anymore I just lay, breath, and try to say the name of Mary or Jesus. This is where I struggle.
    The first time I woke up( always with my legs crossed and hand is in fists under my butt) and I was looking at a little man standing on my bed. He was just a normal proportioned man but in about 2 feet tall and was holding my hands. This was different tho because my hands were out in front of me and I had a feeling in them like 2 stong handshakes. There was a slight glow of red and then my head fell back and was asleep again.
    However it didn’t end. It seemed like only a moment later I woke back up. I hadnt moved yet because I was trying to decipher what just happened. Then I tried to move. Everything froze up, I tried to tell for my dad but I couldn’t make a sound (the worst part) then I thought “say a Hail Mary” but as the word Mary ended a loud, deep, rough, basically demonic voice said “No!” I shot up at the waist and almost sitting upright and still paralyzed. Then I lost my sight completely. Everything was grey and on my left eye was a flash or sparkle(like the “team rockets blasting off again.”)and then it all slowly went away. Nothing in my life has ever been this scary.

    • Hi Ben,

      Thank your for your comment and sharing your story. It does sound like a case of sleep paralysis, and perhaps mixing with a nightmare scene you dip in and out of. I can understand why it was so scary from what you describe. Especially if you are managing to sit upright, and then have further paralysis. I guess that’s just your body coming back under your control bit by bit rather than all at once, which is often what happens to people.
      I think if you find prayer helpful, then that’s a good thing. But also perhaps add one or two techniques from the article to try if it happens again. And by continuing to document the experiences and habits, that also helps you to feel a level of control and empowerment over something which can often leave people feeling a bit helpless. Have you found any correlation at all?
      And as you say, I think not fighting them too much, but trying to remain calm and relaxed is also a good technique.
      All the best

  • Hi,

    I don’t know if what I experienced several times was sleep paralysis or not. Some things about the experiences seem like sleep paralysis, others don’t.

    I had the only experiences I had when I was also going through a period of several years of PTSD related nightmares. I would have nightmares about some terrible experiences I had. I only had these experiences at that time of my life, a period of several years. I was in my 30’s at the time.

    First of all, in the I-don’t-know-if-it-was-SP experiences I had I never had the feeling of being paralyzed. Ever. I think in all of them I was in between sleeping and waking–either waking up or going to sleep.

    In one instance, a real person I knew but who was dead, whispered in my ear in an awful rasping voice, telling me who it was. This person was one of the people that I had the PTSD nightmares about. I was absolutely terrified.

    In another incident the same person was doing something to hurt me and I felt the pain.

    In another, I thought I was awake with my head under the covers and the same person began tapping on the outside of the covers with a pen. I don’t remember if I was stupid enough to ask who was doing the tapping, but I was told anyway and I was terrified.

    In another rather different episode, I guess I was dreaming and felt something/someone awful pushing through the mattress of my bed…..I felt it.

    During the same period I was also having horrible loud sounds, like explosions, go off in my head and terrifying me into wakefulness (exploding head syndrome I guess), and also thinking I felt earthquakes all the time and bolting out of bed in terror, but there hadn’t been an earthquake (I live in California).

    I just thought I was having auditory and tactile hallucinations, then I read about sleep paralysis and exploding head syndrome and wondered. I rather thought it was all connected to the PTSD nightmares….

    Any opinions?

    • Hi Laurie E,

      Thank you for your comment, and I’m sorry to hear you’ve been dealing with all those different symptoms. I can understand why it must be confusing, trying to unpick what is what exactly. I think that without the actual paralysis, it’s hard to pin it on that exactly. But it is possible to have hallucinations which are not attributable to that. You can read up on hypnagogic hallucinations for more on that.
      The sounds could well be EHS, but then they could also be under the hpnagogic hallucinations, or the PTSD. Or even a combination of all! To be honest, you might never quite get to understand each and every incident and be able to pin a label on each one. Your doctor might be the best person to help you work out whether the various different symptoms are due to the PTSD, and perhaps recommend a sleep study to find out if you do have any distinct sleep disorder.
      Whatever it turns out to be, I hope you get on top of it soon and can sleep peacefully again.
      All the best

  • So basically I’m 13 years old right now, I’ve experienced sleep paralysis before but I don’t know how many times until 2 days ago I had a nightmare about a demon chasing me and trying to catch me I woke up and I couldn’t move, I couldn’t open my eyes or move my body I was so scared, I felt a evil presence in my room and I finally got out the trance I went back to sleep and didn’t worry about it that much. After I told my friends and they believe a demon was in my room in some sick way I wanted that demon to come back in my dream or reality so I can speak to it….. Am I crazy?

    • Hi Joelle,

      Thank you for your comment, and I doubt you are crazy! Many people experience similar things, and aren’t crazy at all. It does sound like sleep paralysis, and I think other people also sometimes ‘enjoy’ the experience and try to talk to whatever it is they see. I guess if that’s one way of taking control, and not being scared, then there’s nothing wrong with that. But personally, I’d probably focus on trying to break out of it, by wiggling a toe or finger for example. Just remember it’s not real, and created by your own mind.
      All the best

  • I have had experiences that are similar to some of the stories that have been shared here. I always just brushed them off as nightmares, even though I had the feeling of being “awake” and not being able to move. But I was always able to distinguish that paralyzed/in-between sleep and awake state, from actually being completely awake and alert. Basically I always knew I was in some sort of sleep state, even if it felt real at the time.

    But last night I had an experience that was totally different and has me really confused, and has prompted me to do more research on the SP topic. Normally when I have these nightmares/SP episodes it starts out as a dream where I’m being haunted by a ghost or evil spirit and eventually it starts to try to possess me or attack me in my bedroom, and I feel terrified and want to scream but can’t, and so I’ll start to pray (I am a Christian) and wake myself up because, I become aware that I’m dreaming. Usually prayer will make it go away and help me wake up. Sometimes when I first wake up I’m still paralyzed for a few moments, and still feel the presence of evil in the room for awhile aferwards. I’ll usually pray until I can calm down and fall back asleep.

    Last night, however, I was dreaming about something completely unrelated, and I started hearing this noise in my bedroom. At first I thought it was my cat, because she likes to scratch on wood that’s under the bed. But then I realized it was more of like a grunting and snorting noise coming from area near the foot of my bed, but with a wooden sound to it, like a beaver gnawing on a log. Hard to explain it. But it was definitely completely separate from the dream I was having. I kind of heard it through my dream first, like you hear your alarm going off, and then I started to wake up a little bit and focus more on the sound. I then felt something moving from the foot of my bed towards me and it felt exactly like my cat when she’s walking on the bed. The grunting/scratching noise got louder until it was in my face, and at that point I opened my eyes because I was confused. I looked up at the ceiling and saw a dark figure with no distinct features, kind of like a smokey mass but shaped like a head and shoulders and arms. It was holding my arms down on either side of my head, and making that noise and looking at me. I couldn’t move or cry out. I got the sense that it was curious about me but didn’t really want to hurt me. And strangely I didn’t really feel that afraid, even though this time my brain was telling me it was real. So I said another prayer and immediately it disappeared and I sat up in bed.

    Like I said, normally I’m easily able to distinguish between being awake and asleep, but this time I am very confused and not so sure. And I also find it strange that even though I felt it was real this time, I wasn’t as terrified as I usually am, even when I know I’m dreaming. And hearing the noise and being interrupted from a totally different dream to have an experience like this was new for me. But from other stories on here, it sounds like hearing noises and being woken from other dreams to have this happen is pretty common.

    It’s easy to want to think something paranormal is going on because it all seems like something out of scary movie. But the more I’m reading people’s comments the more I’m starting to think that it’s probably SP, as there is nothing else going on in my house or my life that would indicate a haunting or demonic visitor. Either way though, prayer continues to work for me to make it stop, so if it happens again I’m going to stick to that :)

    • Hi Krista,

      Thank you for your comment, and for sharing your story. It does sound very much like sleep paralysis to me, from what you describe. Even if it wasn’t accompanied by a higher level of fear, as you might imagine when faced with something like that.

      I don’t think there is always a direct correlation between the thing you experience and the level of fear felt. Some readers for example see horrible things, but somehow stay calm. Other readers don’t have such vivid experiences, but still become filled with terror.

      Perhaps there is a combination of your own physiology and way of thinking which plays a role in that. I think it’s a very personal thing how you react to whatever you see, feel or hear.

      The main thing is that you have a technique which seems to work well for you. If you can remember to stay as calm as possible, and not get sucked into worrying about what horrible thing might happen to you, then you should be able to deal with it if it happens again. But hopefully this latest episode was just a one-off!

      All the best

      • Thank you so much for the advice, and for hosting this webpage, it’s been really refreshing reading other people’s experiences. I have to say, even though I didn’t feel a lot of fear at the time it happened, I have felt uneasy ever since, wondering if it will happen again. But I do feel much better knowing that there is rational explanation for what happened. And if it does happen again I think I’ll be able to handle it. This time was just more difficult because my husband is deployed right now, so it’s been a little creepier being by myself in a new place.

        • Hi Krista,

          Thank your for your comment, and I’m glad you found the article helpful. Sometimes knowing you’re not the only one and that others share your experience can be a big help.
          I can understand why it is more creepy if you’re on your own when it happens. But hopefully, as you say, knowing there is a rational explanation will help you cope if it happens again.

  • I used to experience a lot of sleep paralysis since this past few months. I am very worried if sleep paralysis can lead me to death or what? Hahaha. It’s so funny coz everytime I wake up from sleep paralysis, I thought it’s the end of my world.

    • Hi Ivy,

      Thanks for your comment. There is no evidence at all that sleep paralysis can lead to your death. And I personally don’t think it can in any way either. I know it can seem very scary, but don’t worry, you’ll be fine.

  • P.S. Thank you Ethan for increasing awareness, compiling stats and allowing ppl to not feel so alone in there experiences

  • I posted my 2 cents on the hypnagogic hallucination page. CBF typing it again. Sorry but I have to say I find it annoying when ppl imply they aren’t 100% sure that they experienced sleep paralysis. You would know without doubt or you just simply didn’t have sleep paralysis and just heard a noise and woke briefly and fell straight back to sleep because you thought it wasn’t a threat.

    Sleep paralysis in my experience always feels like instant danger and then progresses into a experience that you would know for sure if you had gone through it. It’s like saying “I’m fairly certain I got ran over by a train” – it’s not the kind of thing that you think may have happened. You know if happened and are so rattled that you dare not go back go straight back to sleep. For the first decade of re-occurrence at least. If you do you either have balls of steel or are full of something I’d rather not post.

    • Hi Jack,

      I wouldn’t worry too much about other people’s experiences! Many people come to this article searching for things on their computer which best fit their own experiences. And sometimes it takes a while to really work out what actually happened to you. I think there can be a lot of blurring between dreaming and some parasomnias like sleep paralysis, so people often get confused. But that’s part of the reason I respond to comments, to also try and divert people away from thinking they have sleep paralysis, and suggesting that actually they were probably just having a bad dream.
      I do agree that in many cases it’s pretty clear that you’ve had sleep paralysis. But if you’ve never actually had that extremely vivid and frightening experience, then it makes sense that people can get confused about whether they did or didn’t experience it!
      Anyway, like I said before. Don’t worry too much about other people – I would just focus on dealing with your own particular experiences.
      All the best

    • Hi Jack,
      My SP experiences are not at all frightening in that same sense you describe. I’m sometimes terrified that “this will be the time I won’t be able to snap out of it” but during a terrible SP episode I can wake up and slip right back into SP multiple (4+) times before forcing myself to wake up completely. I have never once sensed anything scary or terrifying around me, and in fact I have been able to repeat normal conversations happening around me verbatim after SP. I have an “oh crap, not again!” moment when I feel myself shift into SP, but no sense of danger whatsoever. All this is to say that while I am 100% certain that I experience SP and have my entire life, it doesn’t rattle me at all. I respect your experience but just wanted to say that it can present in many different ways.

      • Hi Claudia,

        That’s a very valid point, and something I should have said in my previous comment. I agree that it’s not always terrifying, and some other readers have also reported not being scared by it. And like you, they are often sure it’s sleep paralysis, but for some reason or other their body isn’t hit so hard by the fight or flight response.

  • Hello, my name is Teori Johnson i am 13 years old and i have been living in New Zealand for my whole life so this is my sleep paralysis story.

    So it was the night of Sunday, 29 2015. I was just drifting off to a nice sleep, when suddenly i started to think about everything going out, outside my window. I could hear a police car go pass my house, also a helicopter searching for a person. I started to get thoughts about that person jumping through my window, trying to escape from the police.

    Then suddenly i started to hear a loud humming noise. The noise was so weird. Then a person started to whisper in my ear saying “May i stay in here with you.” “May i use your bedroom to escape from the police.” It started to get freaky, so i suddenly shot my eyes open. A strange shadow figure appeared on the top of ceiling. I tried to get up, but i couldn’t my whole body was paralyzed. My brother was in the same bedroom with me. So i thought i could call out for help. I tried to scream and yell but i failed. I couldn’t do anything, i couldn’t scream for help or say a word. It was freaky. The figure was still on the top of me. It felt like the figure was pulling my chest up. My chest was suddenly pulled up, i was so f&*&%g scared i didn’t know what i could do. So i tried to move and shake around.

    A few moments later i tried harder and harder and i succeeded, my legs started to move. But i was still shocked. The figure looked like an alien head, the head was oval like an alien, and i thought i saw a bright light i didn’t know what it was because i couldn’t see the face at all because it was just a shadow like figure. Has anybody else had the same experience? as me i’m only thirteen. After the whole incident i started to do research, and also started to read blogs like these ones. I also started to watch videos of people who had experienced sleep paralysis. My story is similar to all others.

    • Hi Teori,

      Thank your for your comment, and sorry to hear you had such a freaky experience. It does sound very much like sleep paralysis from what you describe. It must have been quite frightening!

      Well done for doing research to find out what happened. Hopefully the explanation in the article will make sense to you, and you’ll be able to relax a bit knowing that what you experienced wasn’t real, and that the mind is capable of playing amazing tricks on us!

      I know you asked if anyone else has experienced anything similar, and perhaps someone will reply to you. But from reading hundreds of people’s stories, one thing I’ve learned is that rarely do people have exactly the same experience. The important thing is that people have similar themes – such as hearing voices whispering in their ear, seeing shadows, monsters, aliens, ghosts or other things and being paralysed. So in that way, many people have had similar things to you.

      My advice would be not to read too much about it. You will find some very unhelpful websites which will just make you more worried! It’s better to try and forget about it, and just take a couple of techniques away with you to try if it does happen again.

      Keeping calm and not allowing it to bother you is one of the best things you can do!
      All the best


  • I am 53 and until recently I thought a handful of experiences I had in my younger years were probably unique to me… I never researched it (would have meant checking out books at the library back then), and I felt I would have been judged at the time had I shared my experiences with the people in my life… so I never really talked about it either.

    Then a week ago I ran across the term “Sleep Paralysis” in a discussion on a YouTube video (the focus of the vid was something else). This led to my reading the Wikipedia entry on the topic, as well as watching a few YouTube videos specifically on SP.

    This site however has been the most beneficial to me in understanding the nature of these bizarre and frightening experiences from earlier in my life (thank you Ethan). Such a relief it has been to learn how common SP is and some of the common “themes” of the experiences. I also appreciate the presentation of what is thought to be at play physiologically during SP… instead of the typical theological explanations.

    As utterly terrifying as my experiences were, after reading several others’ experiences mine might seem like “SP-lite”…lol. Here it goes anyway:

    I had 5-7 experiences between 1980 & 1993 that were all essentially the same except for one outlier.

    The common experiences (with slight variations) essentially went like this:

    I would lie down to sleep on my back (I was usually exhausted or very under-slept)… these occurred during both night & day time. I would perceive that I am “getting close to falling asleep”, but as far as I know I am still very much awake, I hear sounds of “movement”… usually quite soft, like careful footsteps and related noises, etc. I don’t recall whether I thought I physically COULDN’T move, or if I was just too frightened to do so (this includes not being able to open my eyes). In short order I can hear/FEEL a potentially threatening presence approach me and stop immediately at my side. It “leans” into me getting very close to my chest and face area. Keep in mind I’m fully convinced that I had yet to fall asleep, so I am frightened out of my mind, but unable to move or make sound. I can hear/feel the flow of blood “pounding” in my ears like waves. Each time within what seemed like only a few seconds later the presence is gone, I can open my eyes (I ACTUALLY wake up), the fear subsides as I realize I was in some sort of half awake / half asleep state, and I’m now totally OK.

    The one outlier occurred when I was 20 and shared an apt with a male roommate my age.

    One night when I felt good/well rested… after both my roommate & I had been asleep for at least 2-3 hours, I all of the sudden was flooded with an overwhelming sense of terror… but about what?… that’s not like me. In times from my life when I’ve had nightmares and woken up, I at least have some idea of what scared me, if not total recall. In this case, I was just consumed by fear period… a bit hard for folks to imagine I would think. Anyway, what seemed like only moments later I was screaming, kicking and fending off some evil force that was physically attacking me.

    Turns out the “evil force” was my roommate who had been awoken from his sleep by the violent sounds of physical struggle coming from my room. When he turned the corner and saw my bed he said I was violently thrashing about in a way he’d never seen before. He had his pillow with him and attempted to wake me up by yelling at me and using the pillow to trying to stop my wild movement.

    Nothing like that had ever happened before or since.

    The “intruder” SP episodes are hopefully something that will remain in my past… it’s been ~ 20+ years since the last one.

    • Hi Robert,

      Thank you for your comment and for sharing your sleep paralysis stories. And also a big thank you for the kind compliment about the article, which is very much appreciated.

      It always makes me happy when I read that someone has finally discovered what they may be experiencing, or have done in the past. I think that’s one of the best things about having a site like this, knowing that it helps answer questions about some seemingly inexplicable things.

      Your first description does sound like sleep paralysis, and I think it’s all relative in terms of fear. Someone else might describe a horrific scenario, but I think those are the exception and yours is a more typical experience. I do remember one or two other readers in the past talking about being consumed by fear, with no visual stimuli. So you’re not alone in that one.

      As for thrashing about in your bed, that makes me think of REM behavior disorder. Though thankfully you only experienced it once. Has anyone else told you you’ve acted out dreams or done strange things while asleep? It might be worth looking into if it happens again.

      Thanks again and all the best,

  • For the past year, I have had several of these so-called sleep paralysis attacks. I’ve never been diagnosed, because quite frankly I know I’m not crazy and nor am I going to give that impression to my doctor. But I find my situation to be a little different from everyone elses. When I fall asleep, I instantly start to dream. I can remember every detail right down to every response my body is having an going through. Last dream I had, I couldn’t scream or even talk. Something wasn’t allowing me to, nor could I move to get away. I’ve never seen one thing in my dreams, it’s always been darkness. My body is then slowly pulled on and I can feel something place it’s hands under my arms and lift me up. I then began to float straight to the ceiling (also against my will) but I know I am still in my room. I have this deer figurine that belonged to my daddy who passed from cancer a couple years ago and the horns are naturally sharp. While I was floating the deer figurine was the only thing I could see. Whatever was causing my body to float, was pulling me toward the pointy deer antler. I was about an inch from the horn going straight into my eye…but this is how I seem to always wake up. I have to think and repeat wake up Krickett wake up Krickett over an over. Then I slowly go backwards floating back to my bed and then proceed to awaken. It seems like a 20 minute dream, but it’s always for 2 minutes. So someone please explain this to me.

    • Hi Krickett,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m not sure if I can explain exactly what happens to you! It could be that you are experiencing an out-of-body experience, if you are sure you’re definitely aware in your bedroom, rather than dreaming that you are floating in your bedroom.
      As for the time, well that’s easier to explain in that our perception of time whilst dreaming is inaccurate. It’s very common to feel like you have just woken up from an epic dream adventure, only to find you’ve been sleeping for a short period of time. So I wouldn’t worry too much about the significance of the time you think you’re floating with the actual time not matching up.
      Hopefully you’ll find something in this article and tips which you can maybe put into practice next time it happens. You may be able to snap out of it, or perhaps even control where you float as some people manage to do.
      All the best

  • I have experienced SP on a few occasions. I will always remember the first experience as being the worst, as I hadn’t before heard of sleep paralysis. I woke to the standard weight on the chest and a feeling that something was holding my legs up in the air! I panicked, seemed to last about 30 second. I gasped for air during my battle to wake up and my friend who I was sharing a room with woke Me up!

    I had another encounter last night. I was paralyzed and remembered a heavy pressure on my side, it could almost have been as though something was lying next to me in my bed. I felt that there were people, maybe burglars outside my bedroom door and I was trying to wake myself up to get help. What was weirder about this occasion was that I had thought I had woken up two or three times, and grabbed my phone and got up and ran out of my door and into my parents room. It was so vivid!

    The only reason I knew I was dreaming was because when I Grabbed my phone in my dream and pressed the button, the screen was completely black or blurry. This happened twice, and I remember being very lucid in my
    Dream and telling myself I need to wake up, but I couldn’t, and I still couldn’t move! Then eventually I saw, in my dream, My girlfriend, who I always seem to see during my sleep paralysis?! Even though she’s never there. She was shaking my head trying to wake me up and I could hear her saying my
    Name. I then woke up to my head shaking. It was all very strange. But of course I still woke up terrified.

    • Hi Adam,

      Thank you for your comment. It seems though from what you’re describing that at first you describe sleep paralysis, but then later from what you say it seems that you are dreaming of being paralyzed; something which is different, though also understandably unsettling if you remember it.
      Sleep paralysis occurs when you are actually awake in your bed, but your body can’t move. I think you are possible having recurring nightmares from the later descriptions. It would be great if you could give some more details about the different experiences you’ve had, and whether or not they occur while you are consciously awake?

  • I been having the same things happening to me. Waking you and feeling something cold holding me in place almost like something trying to take over my body or just the fact of waking up and seeing someone over me and not knowing what’s going on now the same thing is happening to my niece she recalls something on top of her holding her down as she try to scream. It’s gets to where it happens alot now with the combination of my nightmares and waking up fearing for my life is there something we can do to stop this because it’s getting to the point to were I can’t get a good night sleep and she getting to the point where she reaching her breaking point as well

    • Hi Chris,

      Thank your for your comment, and I’m sorry to hear both you and your niece are being tortured somewhat my the combination of nightmares and sleep paralysis.
      Really, I think the best advice is to look through the readers tips and choose one or two which you like the sound of. I especially recommend choosing a technique for focusing on moving a part of the body, as countless people say this works for them.

      Obviously though the best thing would be to stop it happening at all, but that’s unfortunately a bit harder. By making sure you keep regular sleep routines, and do things to keep yourself being over-tired or stressed, it might help a little. But really I think the main thing it to find a way to deal with it when it happens.

      Perhaps then, little by little, you’ll be able to manage it and even turn it into something positive like some people manage to do. And then key to that seems to be to not fight it, but try to stay relaxed and not allow it to break you.

      I wish I had clearer guidelines, but I think there is an element of trial and error and finding your own way through it, which is a personal journey to a certain extent I’m afraid. But remember that it can be managed, and it can be overcome.

      All the besT

  • I never knew about SP until today. I have had this dark shadow “follow” me since I was 10. it started as a dark blanket that covers me and does not let me move or scream for help. As I got older I started to see the dark shadow look more like a man. This morning was the worst I ever had it. It was double the normal length and it was holding me down so hard that when I woke my shoulder and arm hurt. All my life I thought it was demonic. I would try to pray, scream and fight it but nothing helped. I remembered last night was a lunar eclipse so I thought about googling it and thats when I discovered SP demons. I didnt know so many people get SP, although in my nightmare the “demon” isnt suffocating me, its holding me down and trying to take me and say something but I’m to busy trying to fight it. Its a horrible experience and I just wanted share it.

    • Hi Valerie,

      Thanks for your comment. I can understand your fear if you have something so unpleasant happen. And I can also understand you must be feeling a little relieved to find out what it is after all these years, and that after all there is no demonic aspect to it.
      Hopefully the knowledge that you’re not alone, and as you say many people experience sleep paralysis, will start you on the journey to finding a way to deal with it. Have a good think about some of the practical tips in the article, and hopefully the next time – if there is one – will be a little easier.

  • I have sp several times a week. It starts with a dark void, an intruder in the room, and a massive buzzing that gets louder and louder until my head might pop. Ride it out, for a long time I fought it until I woke up but realized I was missing out on an incredible dream world that waits just beyond the terrifying buzzing inside my mind. It is truly amazing when you break the barrier so to speak. Lucid dreaming is a very real and profound experience. Dreams that you never forget.

    • Hi Bryan

      Thank you for your comment. I deleted the other one even though it was longer as was anonymous and tagged onto another comment. It’s better that the comment is a fresh one though like this one.
      It’s always great to hear from someone who has managed to deal with sleep paralysis by using it to their advantage. And if you can lucid dream, then that’s fantastic. I wish I had that control or luck!]
      Thanks again, your comment is a bit of positivity in the darkness for other readers.
      All the best

  • It happened just 20 or so minutes ago. I was sort of curled on the right side of my body. My body tensed, the paralysis, and I felt very much awake; I can’t tell what stage of sleep I was in. I felt ‘something’ squeeze my heart and this terrifying growling in my ears. The squeezing and growling faded, but then it happened two more times. Each time, I Also felt my arms moving slowly on their own accord, moving along the bed as if they were being tugged. The fear got to me, I thought i was having a heart attack and was going to die, and that really didn’t help. It also didn’t help that
    that, moments before, my cat left my bed, as if escaping ‘something’. The fear got to me, and it sucked, and I was trying to scream for someone, to say good bye, but…it was just sleep paralysis. Imediately googling these results didn’t help anything, for they lead me to think of my grandpa, who has some heart troubles, and me having a heart attack at 22.

    • Hi Emanuel,

      Thank you for your comment, and I can understand why you were so upset by this experience. It’s also understandable that you would worry about you hear if you have it run in the family. But at your age of 22, it’s extremely unlikely anything will happen to your heart. And sleep paralysis, whilst it might increase your heart rate due to adrenalin in your body, is not known to lead to any heart problems.
      My advice is to read through the tips section, find some which seem reasonable to you, and if it happens again try to stay calm, hard as it might seem.
      All the best

  • I sometimes have night mares of being attacked by something dark and when I try to wake up from the dream cause I’m scared I can’t move or scream and sometimes in the dreams something tries to pull Me off the bed or drag Me off the bed and across the floor.

    • Hi Michelle,

      Thank you for your comment. I can’t tell from what you say whether it is sleep paralysis or not, but it does sound like more of a nightmare rather than that. Are you sometimes actually awake in bed but can’t move? Then it could be classed as sleep paralysis potentially. If not you might find it more helpful to looks at the article about nightmares I mentioned.

  • Hello folks, I would like to help you guys :)., I already experienced this thing about 10 times already and Im 19 right now.. the one i remember is the first in which i had fever then in the middle of the night, I hear voices, laughters all around you that is very loud, you try to move ur arms but u suddenly realize u cant… the other thing i remember is the last one, we can say its the 10th., same thing u hear laughters but this time theres an earthquake.. it totally feels real bcoz in that moment, my roommate is in that scenario as well asking me to wake up and beware of the earthquake.. but its just a sleep paralysis again.. . . But this time I was able to escape it, I feel like an expert already coz I can escape to it then return to it as well. When I wake up, I sit on my bed, then if i go back to sleep, another paralysis comes then I escape again… how did I do that… I just forced my self to move body until the brain realizes that its the action i want to do… it will wake you up.. whats more interesting is on how i prevented to have paralysis again….. LISTEN TO MUSIC WITH HEADPHONES. . . the paralysis never came back., and what I learned is that your mind realizes the music as more real than the hallucinations u r about to feel during paralysis therefore you will instead have a nice sleep with an obvious unreal dream.. thank you

    • Hi Sydney,

      Thank you for your comment, and for sharing your personal techniques for dealing with sleep paralysis. I think that you are right in that focusing on moving the body is a good technique, especially if you fine-tune that to just trying to wiggle a finger or toe, and then the arm or leg and then the body.
      And listening to music or having a light I think can be helpful, as like you say it can remind your brain that there is a reality there and so there’s no need to fill the vacuum with all kinds of bizarre hallucinations.
      All the best

    • If you had a fever you probably had a temp of 40C+ and that caused your hallucination. The earthquake your hearing in other experiences is the sound of you going deaf from sleeping with headphones in. lol. I have been delirious from high temp and I couldn’t move due to my fever not sleep paralysis I also frequently have sleep paralysis and lucid dreams or awareness dreams as I call them. One is great two are not. Either way man I’d stop sleeping listening to music if you want to hear music or anything when you’re older.

  • After reading this article and a few others I have determined that I have been experiencing sleep paralysis my whole life. When I was younger it would be the same scene over and over and over again. Sometimes multiple times a night. And sometimes It would be months before I experienced it. I would be laying in bed, my bedroom door would start to open slowly at first, letting in the light from the night light in the hallway, then a little faster untill i could see a man in an all black shadow. He would then slam the door open all the way and start walking towards my bed. I would try to scream and pound on the walls next to me to wake up my pparents, but I could not move. No one was coming to save me. This man was going to get me. and no one was going to know what happened to me. Eventually I would “wake – up” and I would be in my room alone with the door still shut. This happened to me only when my bed was directly across from the door. I always thought it was just a night mare because I had No other explaination. When I rearranged my room, the experiences stopped… Until tonight. (about 10 or more years later, after they stopped.) I went to bed, I sleep in the basement and the way that my room is set up, there is a door that leads to the unfinished portion of the basement right next to the bathroom which is to the left of my bed so when I’m in bed I can see both doors if I’m laying on my right side. Anyways. I went to bed around 3 am. I Fell asleep laying on my left side with my lava lamp on so it wasn’t pitch black in my room (like I do every night). I was sleeping but then I woke up and could not move. I could not open my eyes. I just knew that the man with the black shadow we as opening the door to the back room and was coming to get me. I was still laying on my left side during this experience so my lava lamp was in front of me and the door was behind me. The man was getting closer and closer and closer and I had only managed to open my eyes just a little sliver to see the blue light from the lava lamp. I thought it was really happening to me. I thought there was someone actually there. During all of this I had forgotten about the “man” from my childhood that would open my door in my “dreams”. this was ddifferent, yet somehow the same. When I FINALLY was able to move I just laid there listening for foot steps and then slowly rolled over to look at the back door, still shut. No dark shadowy man coming for me. No one trying to take me away. The time was now 3:30 am and I couldn’t understand what had just happened. I was frightened. I had no clue what to think. I had heard about SP oFF of some tv show a few years ago and I thought I would look it up. Everything I never could explain, was explained by all the articles I read. The only thing that is different is that I couldn’t even open my eyes and I was on my side. I couldn’t see the “man” but I knew it was him And that he was coming for me. I’m So glad that everything from my “nightmares” (not nightmares) have finally been explained. When I would tell my mom about the “man and the door” she would tell me that I just had a nightmare. And when it would continue to reoccur, she had me tell my doctor when I went for a check up,and she said that it might be repressed memories coming out in dream form and sent me to a shrink. They determined that I had no actual memory of this occurring and that it was my brain forming a nightmare. No one seemed to care about the fact that I told them I was awake and could not move. They just all thought that I was remembering “waking up from my nnightmare” and mixing the whole story together. It’s comforting to know that there is now an explaination for it all. However, it doesn’t make it any less scary when it’s actually happening.

    • Hi Allison,

      Thank you for your comment and for sharing your story. I’m glad your research has helped you to better understand something which stretches back into your childhood and by the sound it has gone unexplained for much more than a decade. It must be nice to know that there is a clear explanation.

      Going back to what your psychiatrist said, I do think that that’s something you need to take into account as a possible explanation too. I often tell readers that there is a difference between dreaming that you are in bed and can’t move, and actually being awake in bed and not able to move.

      But, if you say that you were definitely awake during these episodes, then sleep paralysis would seem like the obvious explanation. And as an adult you are even more able to assess and understand your own state of consciousness at the time.

      Hopefully this will just be a one-off all these years later rather than a return to the same experience repeating. If it happens again, maybe change your bed position!

      All the best

  • I’ve had a few occurrences and I’m not sure if this is sleep paralysis or not.

    I’ve had nights where every time I opened my eyes all I saw were scary faces and this would go on until I put A LOT of effort in waking myself up. Last night, I fell asleep on my back and I had about 6 series of different dreams as every time i woke myself up, i would fall back into a different dream. I couldn’t remember all of them but two stood out to me. I was sleeping on the right side of my double bed and I could feel someone behind me jumping up and down and thrashing their body and the voice was of someone I knew. During the movement of the body behind me, I was half awake but couldn’t wake myself up and felt heavy. It took me a lot of effort to wake up and stop the movement behind me. Then I fell back to sleep and this time there were two people over me and I couldn’t see faces but the voice was also of some friends I knew, they were caressing my arms and telling me to wake up. – I could feel EVERYTHING! the bed moving and also my arms being touched but I couldn’t move. I couldn’t sleep all night because these dreams kept on happening and it was SO DIFFICULT to wake myself up. My body feels so heavy and it takes so much effort. Finally last night I remember at 00:19 I finally woke myself up properly by going on my phone and looking at the bright lights and I was lucky enough to not fall back into anymore dreams where it was difficult for me to wake up. Is this sleep paralysis??

    • Hi Sarah,

      Thanks for your comment and for sharing your experiences. To be honest, I’m not totally sure it’s sleep paralysis. Sometimes it’s very confusing to tell the difference between that, just have bad dreams and remembering them clearly, and waking up with the dream half continuing in your mind.

      I think if you are definitely conscious and unable to move your body, and seeing or feeling these things, then there is a good chance it’s sleep paralysis. But if you are always asleep when these things happen, then wake up and are remembering them, then it’s probably not.

      Anything in-between is difficult to judge one way or the other!

      I hope that helps

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