Is Sleep Paralysis Related to Demon?

Sleep paralysis is a very scary thing and refers to a situation when you want to wake up but fail to do so. You may also experience an irrational feeling of terror–some people even witness images of people or figures in black cloaks. There are different explanations given by people around the world. However, people in many countries, including East Africa, China, Mexico, and the United States believe that witches, demons, or other supernatural creatures cause the condition. They even say that these creatures sit on your chest or try to have sex with you. Is the concept of sleep paralysis demon true? Is there any scientific explanation of all this?

Is Sleep Paralysis the Result of Demonic Attack?

In most cases, demon in sleep paralysis is nothing but a myth. You experience these disturbances due to a quirk in your REM cycle. When you fall asleep, your brain may enter a hypnagogic state in which your still-aware mind sees dream images. When you wake up, you may be in a hypnopompic state in which your dreaming mind sees images.

In both cases, the images may seem real and make you experience hallucinatory feeling. Most people usually witness images of black smudges, but they interpret these images as human figures and call them "shadow people". Just like seeing images, some people may even hear sounds like a whispering, a loud bang, or a child's cry.

Scientific Explanation of the Causes of Sleep Paralysis

According to scientific explanation, sleep paralysis demon doesn't exit. Here are some reasons behind the phenomenon and the risk factors that may trigger it.

1. REM Sleep

When you sleep, you first enter in REM sleep. During this phase, your brain is still very active. You usually see dreams during this stage. Your body cannot move during this stage but your eyes may still move. In other words, you get in a state of paralysis, which ensures that you do not act out the actions you may be doing in your dreams. You may remain in this state for some time after waking up from REM sleep.

2. Age

You are more likely to get sleep paralysis if you are young–the condition is more common in young adults and teenagers.

3. Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation also has a role to play in here. Not getting enough sleep will increase your chances of experiencing this condition.

4. Irregular Sleeping Patterns

You are more likely to experience sleep paralysis if you have irregular working patterns and often work shifts.

5. Narcolepsy

The condition makes you unable to stay alert for long periods and this may contribute to experiencing sleep paralysis. This rare sleep disorder can disturb your sleep-wake cycle and make it difficult for you to stay awake for more than 3-4 hours.

6. Family History

Your chances of experiencing sleep paralysis increases when someone else in your family has experienced the same situation.

What to Do about Your Sleep Paralysis

When you know sleep paralysis demon is not true, you may be more willing to take steps to treat your condition. Here are some treatment options:

1. Adjust Sleeping Habits

You should avoid taking a nap during the day because it seems that people who take a nap are more likely to experience sleep paralysis. Moreover, you should avoid sleeping on your back and take steps to create a soothing sleeping environment. Sleep in a room that is quiet and dark–it should be neither too cold nor too hot. Also, avoid drinking alcohol or eating anything too close to bed. Limit your caffeine intake and see if it works.

2. Get Enough Sleep

You should get at least 6-8 hours of sleep each night. Not getting enough sleep will make you enter REM sleep quickly and increase your chances of experiencing sleep paralysis.

3. Seek Professional Help

If you are experiencing something bad, do not suffer in silence. Go talk to your healthcare provider about your condition. Sometimes, you experience all these problems due to narcolepsy, REM disruptions, or other sleep disorders that require treatment.

4. Take Medications

Your doctor may give you antidepressants to deal with your sleep paralysis if your condition is serious. They usually prescribe clomipramine or another tricyclic antidepressant. Antidepressants change neural activity in your brain and change the depth and amount of REM sleep. Taking these medications will prevent sleep paralysis after you wake up or fall asleep.

Other People's Experiences of Sleep Paralysis

"I was sleeping on my left side when I had my first visual encounter. I felt pressure on my chest and could not move. I started panicking and it became even scary when I heard a voice saying, "Just came to say goodnight". Later, it felt as if someone was trying to push me towards the edge of my bed. It was terrifying!"

"Sleep paralysis is nothing new for me. I experience this regularly, but that happens when I nap. I never experienced the demon in sleep paralysis,but my encounters were still quite terrifying. I find it impossible to move despite making all the efforts. I return to normal by moving my finger or wiggling my toe first. It takes serious effort to wake up."

"I have experienced three sleep paralysis encounters in my life. First time, I saw a shadow no larger than a cat crawled up on to my sheets and sat on my chest. I witnessed a shadow again but it was of a man walking around my room. The last one was quite weird–I saw two weird looking penguins in my bedroom."

"I must say that I have a "sleep paralysis guardian angel" and a couple of "sleep paralysis demons" as well. The demons appear as shadowy figures standing by my bedroom door. My worst experience was when a demon jumped on my bed and laid beside me. It felt as if someone was putting his arm around my waist–I could even feel someone's breath on my neck. It went on like this for about 30 minutes and I could not move a bit. On one occasion, I felt someone with claws cuddled me and tried to kiss my ear. I also experience someone sitting beside my bed with a smile on his face. The smile was more like a parent looking after their kid."

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