Sleep paralysis, simply described, is when messages sent from the brain as you wake up from sleep, get “stuck” somewhere down your neuro path. It is thought that it’s a temporary disconnection from the brain and spinal cord. The key word, being temporary. It usually only lasts seconds or moments when it happens but can feel like hours. Time is greatly distorted during episodes.
Symptoms include hallucinations, body jerks (hypnojerks), being frozen in fear, weird smells and strong auditory hallucinations, and even if that wasn’t terrifying enough… continue reading for what it was really like for me.
Commonly associated with sleep disorders like insomnia, sleep paralysis is quite has been reported around the globe. Other related conditions include: migraines, seizures, Parkinsons Disease, and dementia.
Beliefs around the globe
Many people around the globe who live with chronic sleep paralysis report seeing shadow people either in their bed or in the room with them. Yep. You read that correctly. Most commonly, people see the Hat Man.
There have been different types of sleep paralysis reported and connected to spiritual beliefs. These include intruder hallucinations, incubus hallucinations, vestibular and motor hallucinations.
I have now experienced all three of these sleep paralysis types and each one was truly horrific in its own way.
Some cultures believe that sleep paralysis is a spiritual experience and caused by visitations from shadow beings or demons.
The Old Hag being one of the more famous of the sleep demons as depicted in the image below (credit Google search). Other names for these creatures are Jinn (Demons), Pisadeira (Brazil), Night-mare (Europe) and Lilitu (Mesopotamia).
One of the early depictions of sleep paralysis was found from 1684 in the Incubus or the Night-mare written by a Dutch physician. Though there are cases that have been documented for centuries around the globe including South East Asian communities.
Most notably, there was a documented case in the Philippines, in a village called (that I cannot find for the life of me) – where many villagers died from what was believed to be sleep paralysis.
Science would explain the death of these healthy people to be sudden arrhythmic death syndrome.
But when it happens to an entire village, it makes you stop and ponder. IS there really something to this, that science cannot explain?
The Hooded Figure / Hat Man
For me, my first time, I saw a hooded figure hover over my bed that had no face. And I was wide awake when it happened. I just couldn’t move.
First time it happened, it was over as quickly as it began. I was going through a bad period in life and had been sick for a long time. Doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Everyone knows by now here I suffer from really bad insomnia. This past summer was up to 200 hours. That fall, I was around the 100 mark of no sleep. Grabbing only quick power naps during the day. It got so bad, that I wanted to die. Until after my sleep paralysis experience, I had five weeks of iron infusions that turned things around.
In that first episode, I fell asleep with the light on for only moments on my back. The smell of something burning jolted me awake. Then I heard all the bones and joints in my body BREAK. And it felt like it too. Like I sunk back into the bed from the air. Everything hurt. I flew out of bed not understanding what had just happened.
The next time it happened was a couple of nights later. This was almost 10 years ago in the fall of 2013. Weird.
I was in a lot of pain, and had just about given up. It felt like something was in the room with me all night. I’m sensitive in that sense too to strange energies. It felt like something was lurking. And later that night, around 2 in the morning, I finally passed out. And woke up suddenly. Frozen in bed. Unable to move. Unable to scream. Unable to do anything.
But I was WIDE awake and coherent and knew what was happening around me. It was the single most horrifying experience of my adult life. And I’ve had weird experiences over the years.
The hooded figure came out of the corner of the room near my bed. It moved with grace and stood over me. Reached out its hand, and then that’s when the episode broke. I flew out of bed, landing on the floor, tripping over the comforter. Ran over to the light switch and turned it on.
Sure enough, I was on my own.
That’s the night I learned about sleep paralysis and it would be a subject I would become obsessed with. Then it didn’t happen again for years until last night. My insomnia is back and sleep is shit.
The fear I felt in that moment when I woke up from a dead of sleep. It was the sound of knocking in the walls that did it. The heater has been going crazy. I know it’s the heater and not a demon in the walls at least. But still. I woke up. Couldn’t move.
I can’t begin to describe the amount of fear that took over my body in that moment. I had no idea what day it was. What time it was. Where I was.
I’m writing to this to hear other people’s experiences with sleep paralysis. What was your worst experience like? How often do you get it? And what do you do to make it go away?
Want to learn more about sleep paralysis? Here are some noteworthy documentaries. Also, if you’re looking for some spooky movies that cover the topic – Doctor Sleep and Shadow People are entertaining.
- The Nightmare
- Into the Shadows
- Out of Body Paralysis (ViaCons Filmes)
- Sleep Paralysis (National Geographic)
- Sleep Paralysis (Dark Element Films)
- A glimpse into my spiritual practices
- Doctor Sleep – astral travel
- Spirit guides are around us always
Love posts like this? I cover a variety of topics from self-development, mindfulness, spiritual awareness and general relationship advice.
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