top of page

Sleep Paralysis- Demon or Brain Dysfunction??

Have you ever woken up and felt like you were paralysed but awake? That you struggled to breathe, and there was a presence that felt sinister or threatening? For years, since I was a teenager, I was plagued with nightly sleep paralysis and was convinced I was being possessed by the devil. Now with so much information available, there is far more to the story.

Sleep paralysis is a fascinating yet often terrifying phenomenon that has intrigued both scientists and cultural storytellers for centuries. It occurs when a person, either while falling asleep or waking up, is temporarily unable to move or speak. This experience can last from a few seconds to a few minutes and is frequently accompanied by vivid hallucinations, leading to the sensation of an ominous presence or "sleep demon."

In various cultures, sleep paralysis has been attributed to supernatural forces. For example, in Japanese folklore, it is known as "Kanashibari," believed to be caused by a vengeful spirit. In Scandinavian mythology, the "Mare" is a demon that sits on the chest of sleepers, causing nightmares and paralysis. Similar beliefs exist in other cultures, such as the "Old Hag" in Newfoundland, Canada, and the "Pisadeira" in Brazilian folklore. These cultural interpretations provide a narrative framework for the frightening experiences associated with sleep paralysis .

In metaphysical realms (including the Tibetan Dream and Sleep Yogas), sleep paralysis is a means to leave your physical body. Remote Viewing is the practice of seeking impressions about a distant or unseen target, using extrasensory perception (ESP) or "sensing with the mind." Practitioners claim they can describe or provide details about a target location, object, or person not within their normal sensory range. Astral Projection refers to an out-of-body experience (OBE) during which the astral body separates from the physical body and travels outside it. This is often described as a spiritual or supernatural experience where the individual can visit different places, dimensions, or even communicate with other beings.

Sleep paralysis is closely related to lucid dreaming, where the dreamer is aware they are dreaming and can sometimes control the dream. Many practitioners of astral projection and remote viewing use lucid dreaming techniques as a gateway to these experiences. The ability to remain conscious while the body is in a sleep-like state is a critical skill in both lucid dreaming and astral projection.

While many anecdotal reports and some studies suggest a connection between sleep paralysis and metaphysical experiences, the scientific community remains skeptical. Sleep paralysis is well-explained by known neurological and physiological processes, and the experiences of remote viewing and astral projection during sleep paralysis are often attributed to vivid hallucinations and the brain's attempt to make sense of the paralysis

Science says: During Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, the brain is highly active, and most dreaming occurs. To prevent acting out dreams, the brain induces muscle atonia, a state of temporary paralysis where voluntary muscles are inhibited. Sleep paralysis happens when a person becomes aware before the REM sleep cycle is complete, leading to an overlap of wakefulness and REM sleep, where the mind is conscious but the body remains paralyzed. The neurotransmitters gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glycine play crucial roles in inducing muscle atonia during REM sleep. A disruption in their activity can lead to sleep paralysis. Factors such as sleep deprivation, irregular sleep patterns, and stress can increase the likelihood of sleep paralysis. These conditions disrupt normal sleep architecture, leading to an increased incidence of REM sleep intrusion into wakefulness.

Sleep paralysis sits at the intersection of neurology and culture, providing a rich field for both scientific investigation and cultural storytelling. As a brain dysfunction, it is a temporary but sometimes distressing overlap of wakefulness and REM sleep. As a cultural phenomenon, it reflects deep-seated fears and supernatural interpretations across various societies.

I am so excited to see where we can go with the ability to expand our minds. The more research we have on dreams and sleep, the more I am convinced there is more to the story than just the science or just the spirit. If you are experiencing sleep paralysis and are interested in the metaphysical theory, I recommend Robert Monroes book "Journeys out the body". The Monroe Institute in America has fascinating courses and research on the subject.

If you don't want to go gallivanting outside your body, just relax rather than fighting it, and allow your brain and body to recalibrate so you can wake up naturally!

4 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All



bottom of page