Sleep paralysis or sleep paralysis demon is a relatively common experience and it is much more than just a nightmare! It is estimated that one in four individuals will experience it involuntarily at some point in life. From a scientific point of view, it occurs when the brain wakes up from REM sleep.
This is when the most vivid dreams happen. However, when this happens, the body remains paralyzed. This disconnect between the brain and the muscles in the body.
The reason sleep paralysis is so scary is because people experience an inability to move, speak or control their body, despite being conscious. Sometimes it is accompanied by terrible hallucinations, which contribute to the unpleasant nature of the situation.
Fear, anxiety, wheezing and a lot of despair, these are the feelings of those who go through sleep paralysis.
Sleep paralysis has always been present and has been documented throughout history, and there are countless examples in literature and art. In some parts of the world, the condition is called “old witch” or sleep paralysis demon.
Three types of sleep paralysis
These, as the specialized literature has already verified, typically fall into three distinct categories:
- A felt presence, or intrusive hallucinations: The person feels the presence of an evil and threatening individual. Many cultures around the world believe in sleep paralysis demon.
- Hallucinations of incubations: The person can feel someone or something pressing against his chest or abdomen. In most cases the person feels suffocated.
- Vestibule-motor hallucinations: The person thinks he is floating, flying or moving. Very often, these can also sometimes include out-of-body experiences. Thus, the person thinks that his spirit or mind has left the body and is moving and observing events of up.
Among the types of hallucinations listed above, the feeling of a presence is one of the most commonly experienced by people with sleep paralysis.
Sleep paralysis demon in the cultures of the world
The terrifying elements of sleep paralysis are easily attributed to a malevolent presence. Many people try to describe the experience from a theological-cultural point of view. Some blame a ghost, demon or evil spirit as the cause.
The sense of touch is very often highlighted in explanations of sleep paralysis worldwide. Several cultures refer to the presence of a weight on the chest, depending on the assessment.
In Brazil, for example, in some regions we hear of a creature with long nails that hides at night on the roofs of houses. According to the study, this creature, called “Pisadeira”, comes into people’s homes and tramples on the trunks of those who sleep.
In Catalonia, a region of Spain, there is the tale of the “Pesanta”, a black creature, often a dog or cat, that invades people’s houses and sits on their chests while they sleep, which is painful to breathe and causes nightmares, the authors wrote.
In Newfoundland, Canada, it is the “old witch”, who enters houses and sits on a sleeping person. And among an ethnic group in Vietnam and Laos, a “spirit squeezer” sits on the chests of sleepers and tries to suffocate them, the researchers found.
The idea of someone pressing down on weight on the chest is also in the terminology in Mexico to describe sleep paralysis, according to the journal. Translated from Spanish, the expression means “a corpse has risen above me”.
In a study of Cambodian refugees in the 1970s, researchers found that many patients refer to something called “khmaoch Sangkat” or “the ghost that pushes you over the edge”.
In Thailand, a ghost called “phi am” haunts people when they sleep and cannot move. And in some traditional Chinese cultures, “ghost oppression” has caused sleep paralysis, researchers have written.
Some cultures use spell narratives expressed by shamans or summoners to explain sleep paralysis
In Inuit culture, for example, there is talk of shamans casting a spell when a person is asleep, causing an experience called “uqumangirniq”. Consequently, the person cannot move, speak or shout and there is always a faceless report or presence.
Japanese folklore refers sleep paralysis demon to an invocator who invokes a vengeful spirit to suffocate his enemies. This phenomenon, called “Kanashibari”, is “the state of being totally constrained by metal chains.
Indeed, the demons of sleep paralysis, is present in almost every culture in the world has a paranormal explanation for this. Follow the list for other examples:
- In medieval Europe: it was believed that a male demon, crazy about sex, came to visit his victims at night.
- Scandinavia: the mare, a cursed woman, visits people who sleep and sits on her chest.
- Turkey: a spirit doesn’t let you get up and tries to strangle you.
- The southern United States: the witch comes to pick you up while you sleep.
- Mexico: the ‘ascend el muerto’, the dead person, is on you.
- Greece: ‘Mora’ sits on your chest and tries to choke you.
- Nepal: ‘Khyaak’, the ghost who lives under the stairs.
The researchers noted that the aim of the assessment was not to neglect the various spiritual explanations for sleep paralysis, but rather “to enrich knowledge about these experiences and their psychological and cultural aspects,” they wrote.
Ways to deal with sleep paralysis
Unlike popular beliefs about sleep paralysis demon, researchers believe that it is caused by terrifying symptoms. Believing in the scientific explanation or that of spirituality the fact is the following: there is no medical clarification as to why this occurs, therefore there is no cure or medicine to treat. Therefore, in both cases the main tips are:
- keep calm and relax;
- meditate, ignore the situation because it will go faster like that;
- if you have any beliefs, hold on to the good energies and thoughts it provides;
- don’t try to move it abruptly, it won’t work;
- start by controlling your breathing to relax;
- count one to 10