Sleep Paralysis: Awake But Still Asleep

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Biology 202
2000 First Web Report
On Serendip

Sleep Paralysis: Awake But Still Asleep

Hiro Takahashi

A person may wake up and find himself unable to move or speak as if he is frozen. He also may hear footsteps, see a ghost-like creature, or feel someone sitting on his chest. Throughout the history, people considered this phenomenon as work done by evil spirits. However, the modern science can explain the terrifying event as a Sleep Paralysis.

A Sleep Paralysis is possibly a hereditary disorder in which one experiences very frightening seconds or minutes of total body paralysis with little respiration and eye movements (1). A victim in this state feels awake, but he cannot move or speak (2). In addition to the immobility, the common symptoms include feeling choked or suffocated, hearing strange noises like footsteps and voices, seeing beings or dark shadows, and feeling an existance of someone in the room (1). Although these symptoms often direct the victims to believe in ghosts, mistransmission of neural signals in the brain causes Sleep Paralysis. When a person sleeps, his brain sends signals to inhibit any muscle contraction (3). If he comes into consciousness before the brain sends signals to activate muscle contraction, he cannot move his body, and consequently, become "paralyzed"(2).

In order to understand how a body becomes paralyzed while the person is awake, it is necessary to understand sleep cycles. In a mammalian sleep, the brain activity undergoes two different states called non-REM (NREM) sleep and REM sleep, which differ very much from wakefulness (3). NREM and REM sleep alternate cyclically through the night; in human, about 80 minutes of NREM sleep starts a night of sleep, about 10 minutes of REM sleep follows, and this 90 minute cycle is repeated about 3 to 6 times during the night (3). During NREM sleep, a body produces few movement, but the body has capability of tossing about in bed and producing some other motor events, such as sleepwalking and sleeptalking (3). The cardiac-muscle contraction and breathing occur at a uniform rate, and the eyes move slowly (2). During REM sleep, on the other hand, heart rate, respiration rate, and blood pressure vary (3). The eyes move rapidly because most dreaming takes place in this period, and the sleeper probably "look" at the moving objects in a dream (2).

The brain's control over muscles during REM sleep points out that in this period, a body is normally in the state of total paralysis, called a "nonreciprocal flaccid paralysis" (3). Probably to prevent a person from "acting out" a dream, the brain sends signals to inhibit any muscle contractions (2). Although some peripheral muscles, such as the muscles of the fingers and face, still twitch, the large skeletal muscles become relaxed, or "paralyzed" as a result (3). Some evidence supports that the motor paralysis of REM sleep protect against the acting out of one's dreams. A patient who suffers from rare syndrome called REM Sleep Behavior Disorder lacks the normal nonreciprocal flaccid paralysis, and he acts out violent dreams during REM sleep, often with injurious consequences (4). For example, a 60-year-old surgeon dreamt that he was attacked "by criminals, terrorists, and monsters who always tried to kill [him]" and fighting against them in the nightmare, he was actually punching and kicking his wife who slept in the same bed (4).

A nonreciprocal flaccid paralysis during REM sleep is accomplished actively by postsynaptic inhibition of motorneurons (3). Although the exact process of motor inhibition is not clear, some neurotransmitters and hormones are known to generate the many components of REM sleep. Aministering physostigmine, an inhibitor of the catabolic enzyme, increases the concentration of acetylcholine within the neurons in the pons, making it possible to artificially generate and start REM sleep in the middle of NREM sleep (3). Carbachol, the cholinergic agonist, produces a period of REM sleep in cat when directly injected into the pontine tegmentum (3). The hormone melatonin, a "master hormone" (5) that mainly controls circadian rhythms, also seems to play an important role in enhancing the REM state; the level of melatonin secretion by the pineal gland reaches its lowest during REM sleep (5). Such neurotransmitters and hormones probably activate or inhibit the activity of second messengers, which then activate or inhibit the third messengers, and so on till the last messenger inhibit the synaptic transmission or cause hyperpolarization of the motorneurons. And if, for some reason, the nervous or endocrine system continues to release the neural inhibitors, a person may experience Sleep Paralysis as he enters awakefully into or awakens directly from REM period (2).

While the modern neuroscience can describe the state of Sleep Paralysis as some errors of the neural transmission in the brain during REM sleep, a person who has seen or heard ghost-like figures/voices may easily believe that eveil spirits fully controlled his entire body. However, the images or noises, which the victim believes that he has seen or heard, are most likely hallucinations; and hallucinations, too, can result from the brain activity. In the 1960's, the Canadian neurologist W. Penfield introduced that electrical stimulation of the temporal lobe can cause the auditory hallucinations in the wake state (5). The buzzing or ringing sounds in the ears and other auditory hallucinations are closely associated with the activity of the auditory cortex and involves the temporal lobe (5). During the early period of sleep paralysis, the activity of the temporal lobe increases significantly, sometimes inducing hallucinatory sense (5). Similarly, the visual cortex generates internal visual stimuli, causing the victim to "see" terrifying figures during the paralysis (5).

How an episode of Sleep Paralysis induces visual or auditory hallucinations is still not clear, but it seems to have a significant relationship with anxiety (5). For anxiety is a neurocognitive event closely related to both psychological and physical processes, the extreme anxiety or panic may cause the release of several different signal molecules that trigger all kinds of physical events (5). A person experiencing Sleep Paralysis feels mortal fear or extreme panic, and hence, the brain generates and releases internal visual or auditory stimuli, producing hallucinations.

Also, hallucinations during Sleep Paralysis may happen, for one keeps dreaming even after some parts of his brain wakes up directly from REM sleep. Since the nervous and endocrine systems continue to release the neural inhibitors which sustain the paralysis, it may be possible that those systems keep releasing the neural activators that stimulate dreaming. Thus, a person continues to "see" the images and "hear" the noises produced in the dream that he has just had in REM sleep from which he has awaken.

Understanding more neural concepts of Sleep Paralysis, some researchers now hypothesize that a very rare condition called Sudden Unexplained Nocturnal Death Syndrome (SUNDS) may closely relate to Sleep Paralysis (1). Upon the death, a SUNDS victim produces no body movement even though he experiences a myocardial infarction and strong breathing difficulties and should straggle in agony (5). The death may be caused by the extreme muscle atonia during Sleep Paralysis, which is so severe that even the cardiac muscles and the diaghragm paralyze (5).

Until I started researching on this subject, I have believed that the total paralysis of a body is due to an evil taking absolute control over the body. However, the interactions between neurons in the brain can explain this seemingly mysterious phenomenon in a scientific way. Although the explanation is not complete yet, for there are many unclear processes about Sleep Paralysis, the current hypothesis appears to reject the possibility of ghosts on this matter. Of course, it is impossible to completely disprove the existence of "spirits", "minds", or "God" affecting one's behavior. Nevertheless, like Sleep Paralysis and SUNDS, many or the mysterious conditions and behaviors which are only explained in supernatural terms probably result from brain.

WWW Sources

1)The Evil's of Sleep Paralysis

2)The Body During Sleep

3)Basics of Sleep Behavior

4)REM Sleep Behavior Disorder: A Neurologic Dissociative Sleep Disorder

5)Recurrent Isolated Sleep Paralysis



Comments made prior to 2007

I have been trying to figure out what was going on in my sleep untill i read this.Now i am happy to know what my body was expeiencing. It's quite scary your first couple experiences of sleep paralysis but now i'm gonna stay calm when it is happening to me and try to get my own understanding of the experience ... Jeremy, 21 March 2006


I have had sleep paralyisis at least once per month for the last 8 years. I am 29 as of this writing. I just had the experience about 1 hour ago and thus has caused me to do reasearch about it on the net. I noticed that many Dr.'s contribute this to anxiety, stress and other factors. My question is ... why is there always an evil presence in that concious yet body is still asleep phase? Today I heard a loud static sound, and opened my eyes to a spider crawling all over my arm. When I prayed to God, or said His name (Jehovah) the spider would start to disappear. I finally went thru my mental prayer when I awoke. This leads me to believe that it is more of a spiritual occurence, because I never have positive images while in this paralized state. I know there are many things in which our ancestors thought it was demonic rather than scientific, only to find there was a scientific explanation. However, I think this is different and cannot be simply written off as "scientific". There is not enough proof to show that it is scientific.

About a month ago I had another episode of sleep paralysis and I saw a small presence in the room with me. It was dark, and I could not see it's face (I am getting chills typing about it right now). My question is, why is there always an evil presence not only associated with my episodes, but so many others I have read about? ... Abel, 24 August 2006 


i was thinking it is evil who do that during night but now i find out why. I am suffering from sleep paralyze possibly every nigh spicily when i have dinar ... Salah Nasser, 28 January 2007


I used to have this sleeping disorder when I was a child.  It has come back once or twice with adulthood, but otherwise, it is in the past.  I used to, with great effort, move my hand to my face and pull an eye open, which would wake me up, but sometimes the struggle was too much and I would go on into a deeper sleep. 

Since the brain can do this to me, can it also cause me to get migraines just as I am about to wake up?

It seems, as I have discovered, if I get less than 4 hours sleep a night, I do not get migraines.  If I get 6 hours or more, it's about a 90% chance I will wake with a migraine.  Later in the day, I get an hour or two nap and that is the routine as it works.  Doctors just sort of treat the migraine and don't get into the sleep thing I have.  I take MaxAult for the migraines when they do get me.

I woke one time, and just as I woke, I felt this white-hot needle going into my head... bingo.  A migraine in 5 seconds.  That is how they can occur.  I wake with them otherwise.  I figure it my brain doing things it shouldn't.  I have a clean bill of health otherwise.

Thanks for your time.  Have a good day ... Jay, 11 February 2007


I have a question, and hope someone out there has an answer, it has been months and I have thus far failed to find one.  Has there ever been a record of anyone receiving the effects of sleep paralysis without having been asleep?  The reason I ask this, is a while ago, having not slept in a few hours, I was sitting at my computer, and it seemed to have happened to me. Within seconds I was too tired to hold up my own head, and my breathing got very difficult. Then I began to feel a sort of dizziness as my limbs lost feeling, and dropped to my side. after this, the dizziness turned to near blindness. I could see, but nothing would focus, and everything I tried to look at seemed to dart around like a mosquito. By this time I had no feeling in my entire body, could move nothing without quite a bit of concentration, and I could barely breath.  My mother heard me try and make out some kind of cry for help, and found me there spilled into my computer chair. She rolled me to my bed, and poured me into it. Within about 10-15 minutes I had regained everything I once had, but my sea legs did not ware off for another ten or so minutes.  I went to the emergency soon after. I had an E.K.G. and a C.A.T. scan, with no results, and I piss less in a week then the amount of blood they took that night. After basically telling me I was lying, the doctor told me that my symptoms did not fit anything at all.  What I do know, is I have been researching the issue ever since, and can only base my problem on Sleep Paralysis. All the symptoms match. And again, my question....Has there ever been a record of someone under the effects of sleep paralysis without ever having gone to sleep?  I hope you can shed some sort of light on this subject, as it,...well, it freaked me the hell out, and no one has been able to answer me!  Thank you for your time ... Mitchel Henderson, 7 December 2007


I used get this "evil paralysed me" feeling when i was paralysed and usually saw a ghost. i tried to shout or move but no sound escaped my mouth and couldn't move at all. it happened again yesterday and was almost convinced that ghosts/evil spirits were getting the better of me. But, me being a practical and logical guy, erjected this theory and started researching on this phenomenon. I came across this research paper on Sleep Paralysis. This greatly helped me in alleviating my fears. And next time i "see" a ghost during sleep paralyses, ill just laugh at it ;-)  Thanks for the research ... Siddarth, 10 December 2007 


John Simpson's picture

it's not the mind

I have never experience this phenomenon until last night. I was in a deep sleep (I can't remember if I was dreaming or not) but I felt my pectoral and shoulder muscles vibrating rather violently. This is what woke me. When I woke I was completely paralyzed. I couldn't talk and I was struggling to breathe. I felt scared beyond belief, not so much because I was paralyzed, but because my whole chest area was moving, I couldn't talk and I was barely able to breathe. I tried to get up but no matter how hard I tried I couldn't do it. So I tried to yell, but I couldn't, I struggled just to breathe. After about fifteen seconds of trying I was able to whisper "Get Off!". Now I was mad, and although I wanted to shout at the top of my lungs, It took everything I had just to whisper that. Two more times I was able to whisper "Get Off!" and the episode ended immediately. I knew that there was an invisible energy affecting me. For the last several months I have been noticing moving entities from the corner of my eye. When I turn to face them, there is nothing there. This seems to happen a lot at work. At my home, I have this fear of an inhuman presence coming from my kitchen. Sometimes at night, I can hear footsteps walking up my hall towards my room. Also, sometimes when I'm in my room I can hear voices, and sometimes coughing coming from down the hall. It's so loud that sometimes I assume that my dad made the sounds, only to find out later that he wasn't home. At times while laying in bed, I swear I can hear what appears to be a radio at a low volume. I checked my alarm, my tv, my radio and nothing! A few weeks ago, while I was sweeping at work, I heard a bunch of clanging sounds. When I looked up at the place where we hang our pans, I witnessed three or four pans swinging back and forth and clanging against one another. It was like somebody had walked up to them and swung them kind of like the desktop novelty with the four balls that hit one another. This happened only a few feet away from me and there is no way a person could have done this, because I would have easily seen them walk by. A few nights ago I was in my room sitting down working on my computer. Something caught my eye. As I looked down, I noticed that a Christmas present from my father, a box that measured 11"x6"x2", was sitting on it's side, and teetering back and forth in a consistent motion (it didn't slowly go back to center like a normal teetering object would) and then suddenly stopped. I inspected the box and the area, and I could not find any explanation as to why this box was tipping back and forth. I tried several times to mimic the movement that I saw. It would either fall over or barely totter before quickly ending up back at center. The only way that I could correctly mimic the motion was to hold the box with my hand and mimic it that way. Now, I am a college educated person, mostly in healthcare, I DON'T believe in god, and I am very skeptical. When something strange happens I always attempt to debunk it. Most of the time there is a reasonable explanation. But, sometimes there isn't. Science can only explain so much. It's hard to understand something, until you experience it for yourself. Before last night, I would have totally agreed with your explanation of this terrifying event, like I said, I'm a skeptic. But there is no way you will convince me that this is medical condition. First of all, I didn't wake up and then noticed paralyzed. I only woke up because I felt my muscles moving without my control. Prior to this event, I've had several strange events happen to me. This has never happened to me before, and it seems to coincide with the escalation of these strange events. Prior to this event the events didn't really bother me, in fact I thought they were interesting, but now I'm terrified. Tonight I plan on setting up a camcorder to record my sleep, I hope this may give some insight as to what the hell is happening to me.

ryan's picture

wish you the best

I never had it this bad....i would always see items moving in the corner of my eye. What seems to help me is just letting it happen don't try to fight it and it will go.away usually 15-30 seconds.i feel bad for the people who say theyve had them.for more than 2 mins ..10 sec sp is scary enough i couldn't even imagine. To get. to the point i started to notice that i only have the dreams or whatever you want to call it when my sleeping pattern is messed up. Im 17 now and been having sp since i was 12. I usually have them when i take long naps during the day and only get to sleep at 1am to.3 am and have to wake up for school at 7. But i wish you the best i went to my doctor and he said it is most likely do to stress and anxiety but idk this stuff scares me especially after seeing the movie insidious.

Israel's picture

video recording

Hey John I was just wondering how the recordings came out as I too am very skeptical of these things. More often than not the answer is definitely logical and scientific as I believe most of these cases to be including my own experiences with SP. Yet I know that I can positively attest that there have been many real and disturbing things that I've personally witnessed and can not explain. thank you for your time.

Tina's picture

I hope your recording gives

I hope your recording gives you answers because it seems to me that your situation is something evil and the only way to defeat evil is the power of Jesus Christ and our heavenly father God. During your episode plead the name of Jesus and if your not able to actually call it out then do it in your head and I can guarantee whatever is troubling you will leave you alone and try not to show your fear because evil feeds off of fear and becomes more powerful. I just had an episode about 20 minutes ago and also had one yesterday. I know my God and Jesus Christ keeps me protected whenever I need to call out to them. I really would like to know what happens with your recording especially if you call out to God.

Serendip Visitor's picture

I love your post !!! Whoever

I love your post !!! Whoever calls upon the name of Lord shall be saved. I had this SP this monring and i called upon the name of Jesus and i was set free immediately .

(Though i walk through the valley of the shadow of death, i will fear no evil).


Spencer C's picture

12-30-12 Hooded Girl

My friend and I were having a joyful little evening several nights ago.
After indulging in some herbal treats, I began to fall asleep (around 10pm).
I woke up (around 12:30) to find my friend on his laptop.
I complained to him then fell back into my slumber.
I woke up again (after 2am), but this time I was paralyzed.

Before I woke up in my paralyzed state, I was dreaming.
I dreamed I was walking out of my childhood room in the top level of my house.
I thought my sister was walking out of her room to confront me,
but instead of my sister, I faced a hooded evil spirit/demon/girl.
We walked toward each other at a fast pace down the hall; it lifted its hand then pushed me back.

Now I am at the part when I woke up paralyzed.
I was laying at the foot of my bed just as had been prior to falling asleep.
My eyes could barely open and I could see my friend on my right side, sitting up at the other end of the bed, on his laptop.
On my left side, I could see Hooded Girl standing.
My hands were to my side, but my left hand was lift several inches off the bed
and my palm was facing upward.
Hooded Spirit's palm was faced downward straight above my palm.
Hooded Demon was chanting in a feminine pitch, yet it was low sinister and witchy.
I couldn't move for over 10 seconds.
I was paralyzed, and I was mute.
Finally as I was able to utter the word "help" to my friend, Hooded Girl vanished.
I then explained to him what had happened.

I am spiritual, yet I don't usually believe demons enter my dreams..
I believe most of my mind and all of my body was sleeping while my eyes and some of my mind was conscience.
This caused the hooded girl from my dream to seem real (while I was beginning to wake up in my paralyzed state).

Simon's picture

You can get nose plaster

You can get nose plaster things from your chemist that stop snoring apparently. I'm told they are like strong plasters that hold your nose open wider. Might help

Simon's picture

If I heard a girl scream I'd

If I heard a girl scream I'd be more concerned for her than any perceived fear I might have.

If you don't believe in spiritual factors pick on a positive emotion ie concern for others. See what happens..

If you believe in the spiritual, there is at least one spirit near you more scared than you. If you feel concern and wish to protect it will be felt.

NarcolepsyEve's picture

Narcolepsy sleep paralysis

Hi Everyone,
I have been looking at this from time to time, I have these episodes a lot, usually they happen as I am falling asleep.
Basically I am awake and get pulled back to REM sleep. Typically this happens when I'm stressed or overtired. REM sleep makes you totally paralyzed, but your brain is still awake.

If you are experiencing this with symptoms of falling asleep during the day, or being VERY tired.. where you CANNOT control it please see a doctor, you may have narcolepsy.

Narcolepsy is typically diagnosed 10 years too late, as most people get diagnosed with depression due to their constant need for sleep. I can sleep for 2 days straight without medication, fall asleep in the car, sitting etc.

You will have a sleep study done, one part at night, one during the day, you will be connected to electrodes and monitored.
I had to take 5 naps during the day, they give you 15 min to fall asleep during those naps... and monitor your brain activity. I fell asleep every time and went into REM sleep in under 60 SECONDS . I was diagnosed with narcolepsy and my life has greatly improved with medication.

if you have any weakness while laughing or feeling emotions, sleep walking, insomnia, sleep paralysis and EXTREME uncontrollable fatigue (you slept for 7 hours and are falling asleep behind the wheel) see a doctor. I finally saw a doctor (after 12 years!!) when I woke up banging my head against my kitchen counter.. and almost crashing my car going 80 because I cold not control my need to sleep.
I hope this helps someone.

Serendip Visitor's picture


im a person who gets blocked noses at night. so when i get paralysed i so scary.. because i cant breathe.. Just.

Can anyone help me?

Serendip Visitor's picture

sleep paralysed

this happened to me last night 30/12/12 acually i guess it would have been 31/12/12 because it was this morning. My first time getting this was really weird but not that scary (just the bit where i couldnt breathe properly). i was at an uncles funeral and he had a blow to the head which i didnt see until the next day. well during "it" i couldnt move and all of that.. i seen a black shadow of someone wearing a cowboy hat and a cloak and it was facing my way. the next day it seemed weird that my head was really sore in the same place were my uncle had a blow to the head.

i am a very logic person and it does feel like something is holding you down ,but i think its just the musles not been able to move.
i have come to a conclusion that all the times this has happened to me i have been over tired. except for the first few times i cant remember how tied i was. This has happened about 10 times to me within the last few years. a few times it has only lasted not even a minute because i have been able to get out of it.
Most times it feels as if it lasts like 30 to 60 mins. i usally freak out and stugle to breathe which is the worst bit.

This was not cool guys! you no how you cant move you body and you feel as if your body is being held down well just before i felt that i felt the bottom of my blanket get push down. and for the first time i felt the need to say F**K off, but i couldnt say it i was saying it in my head, I couldnt get my mounth open and all that was coming out was little mouns.
ok im not one to talk to jesus because i am far from christian.. but i said (im my head) "Jesus please help me" not straight away but soon after i heard low talking, it sounded really ugly .i couldnt under stand and then i could move again. i didn't though i was so scared i stayed in the same position for ages. :( it was so sad.. CAN YOU GET GET LKE MEDICINE FOR THIS SHIT??

Serendip Visitor age 17 female's picture

I know, I just had one this

I know, I just had one this morning first time I've had one. It was completely weird. I woke up from a nights sleep at 9 am and went back to sleep about 10 minutes later or so. I then woke up at about 10:10 am so it was a short period of time. I had a dream during this time about this couple who lived in a mansion with these old people and the couple got evicted from there room they had. Then this other random couple walked into the room and were pointing at something on the ground so I tried to find what they were pointing at and didn't seem to find anything so I asked what they were doing. They then said that they had a scary encounter with an alien and were really scared. Weird dream that's for sure... Then I guess I was awake yet I felt like I was still asleep dreaming. At first I could see that I was in bed and this guy that I really care for was holding my hand and he was talking to me yet I couldn't see him? Then right after I noticed he wasn't actually there I could not move, only my eyes. I felt like something was holding me down to the bed on my chest. I also felt like my legs were slightly lifted off the bed yet I'm sure they were not. I also heard this weird sound that I've never heard before it kind of sounded like a 'pfffft' sound but it was not at all, I have no idea. I cannot explain the sound, it's something I've never heard before. I then tried to yell "STOOOOP" but no words came out, I could only say it in my head. I could only make a sound as if I had duct tape covering my mouth. I just couldn't move at all and I tried as hard as I could to move. Seriously I do not want this to happen again. I'm done with this experience, so I've read that it happens to others frequently and I'm not down. So I agree if there is some kind of medicine to stop this, where's it at.

Serendip Visitor's picture

I know, I just had one this

I know right, its the most out of-est shit. like wtf? I Need some medication :/ i hope doctors perscribe, but when 'its' over (like the next day) im like thinking "nah it wont happen again i was just dreaming.." then the shit happens again... and a doctor may think im like mental.

By the way im 17 also. right before i had that experience (the mail u replied too) i was dreaming that i was driving, their were three people in the car including me but i couldnt see the third person, and i was going crooked - like off the road then it happened. it seemed so fkn weid like i was in it. fk, it felt really scarey as if somone/thing 'bad' was in my room.

weird thing is this young kid our age passed away in a car accident a few weeks before i posted this. Even though i never talked to him i took it to heart cause it was just so sad.. In his accident their were three people in the car. :/ jus a thought thau.

Hope u find a way to beat this 'illness' x

Serendip Visitor's picture

The same thing is happening

The same thing is happening to me last night I had felt something holding me down and all I herd was screams as if a little girl was in my room then I couldn't speak.... This just happned again.... Idk what to do

Serendip Visitor's picture

I'm not convinced. Tell me..

I'm not convinced. Tell me.. you state you did various experiments that you to believe that these things are real, so elaborate. What did you do and what were the apparently conclusive results?

What follows appears to be rather a stretch of the imagination. What led you conclusively to believe in such seemingly far fetched things as curses, magics, and discount what would otherwise appear to be reason?

Serendip Visitor's picture


I'm 14 years old and I just experience the worst dream in my life. I woke up this morning to find myself crying in my bed because I didn't know if it was real or fake. My dream started out as me laying in bed, then I see my window open. I go over to check out my window and my aunts and cousins and uncles were standing outside about to leave which I was very confused. When I go downstairs to walk outside, they all left me. I couldn't tell if I was dreaming because everything was intrecut and detailed. When I went into the garage the lights went out, I felt a pulling on my shirt, I look and it's my shirts stuck on the garage door handle, it was very dark and I'm super scared of the dark so I was calling for my mom but nothing came out, I screamed about 5 or 6 times and there was nothing, I got myself lose from the handle and ran straight to my mom who was folding clothes in the living room. I sat down on my phone as if nothing happened, I rememberi left the garage door open, as I look across the couch to see if I did, there was a scary old lady in a black gown, it wasn't very detailed, it was more of a shadow with a white, wrinkled face. I turn to run to where my mom was folding laundry and she wasn't there, but then she turns the corner but in a whole different outfit. I tell her what just happened but she didn't believe me. I was very creeped out by this dream so I try to wake up the first time I tried waking up, I was laying in bed and I couldn't move and I could only squint my eyes open I then felt pressure all on my body as if there were glass pushing against me, the room started turning a yellowish tint, I saw another dark shadow looking at me in my closet but I tried my best to look forward, I then felt a rough shaking of my bed and I was knocked off my bed and dragged across the floor, I try harder to wake up again and this time I'm just flat out on my bed, can't move or scream... I try one last time and I actually move and I wasn't sure if I was actually awake... I immediately grabbed my iPad to start researching my dream, so I guess I am awake now, hopefully. This dream seemed very controllable, as if I were directing it, but every time I would do something to the dream, something bad would happen that I would think was very real. I feel like I was in this dream for hours.. I wake up and it's only been 24 mins.. I was very creeped out to the point I just started crying of how terrible that feeling of being that scared was... I want to go back to bed but I'm scared... Scared that that dream will continue.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Wow I feel as o bad for you

Wow I feel as o bad for you that sounds horrible....are there any positive thoughts that occur....during you dream....if so focus on thesr lso when your awake...try to avoid the things that could cause your subconscious to play these events. And just try you best to distinguish a dream from reality....make sure you know your are going to sleep and dont just doze off hap hazardly

Serendip Visitor's picture

Sleeping Paralysis

people the same question has came to me, and I believed first that it is psychological or it's true that it's just sleeping paralysis and just some chemical brain activities. but, after something experiments I did with myself it came to me that it's not at all what you are explaining here. It is spiritual. It is another portal, since it's always dark, it might be a curse from someone. it might be only envying someone else if someone has powerful eyes he could curse another one without knowing, don't underestimate the power of energy. even scientist agree that there is a lot of mysteries when they discovered quantum physics for example. there is a 4th dimension and 5th dimension, and it might be open by that time. sorry if my text is very random. why i believe it's something spiritual because It happened with me and a friend of mine in two days in a row.. and we both thought before that someone cursed us both not to be together or someone envy us for how good we are together..I am not telling you to believe any of this. but believe or not believe it's your choice once you think about things from an experimental method you will learn more about this. books of religions can help for they have many secrets and numerical and geometrical mysteries and have a very strong and positive energy.

oflird's picture

sp is both phychological and neurological

ok so after reading all the comments im glad to know that im not alone.Some of your conditions are worst than mine,i haven't experienced anything evil or anything like some of you are saying,i just experienced the lost control of my body,unable to wake up.I see myself wake up and run out of the room scared but i find myself back in bed n still asleep,this keeps happening over n over again,until i finally wake up.One time i saw the similar situation i fell asleep in (flipped over my stomach in the middle of my bed i was napping) i open my eyes and hear everyone screaming that there's an earthquake,the house is going down,but i can't move an inch of my body,im just there w/ my paralysed body watching everyone going out of the house,i try to tell / yell for help to wake me up but find myself unable to speak,move or doing anything,im just there watching everything happen,until i finally wake up where i fell asleep n nothng has changed.What's causing all this i think is that my desires of getting out of this place or my fear of death have somehow manifested themselves into sp hallucinations,which is terrifying. And im so sick of it,i has happened so often and i cant even keep count anymore *sigh*

Maria Grullon's picture


I have had several sleep disturbances my first account I felt like I was held down could not move. My eyes were the only thing I could control when I opened my eyes I saw a black snake head shadow over me. I knew my son and husband were home but could not scream at all. When it was over I felt short of breath and somewhat relieved. I ran to my sons room and ask if he had heard anything at all he claim that he did not.

My second one was completely and total paralysis, no shadows but I could hear the television. In this one it took longer for me to recover.

I have had several where I don't know if its dreams or paranormal. In these I have been slapped in the face, I felt like I have been dragged onto the floor. Also, I have plenty of time been woken up by my husband claiming that I have slapped him , scratched, and then I laugh but I don't remember.

Please tell me im not crazy but could this be explained.


cristyn betances's picture


Ok so this has happend to me before but now that i think about it, it happend to me only the appartment i lived before and when it did happend i would not see anything but i did feel like something was holding me down and the first time that it happend to me i right away thought it was something evil trying to posses me or somethin, i know that when it did happen at first i would feel scared but then i would think to my self im stronger then this and i would not start praying, i would start saying to wat ever is hoding me down to get off of me without fear. And then moments after that it stoped.

Serendip Visitor's picture

I am a College Student. I

I am a College Student. I just experienced something like this about ten minutes ago. This is not the first time. This has been going on for years now and its always the same senreio w/ me.

The thing is, I know that I am sleep but for some reason I am unable to wake up. I slept in my dorm room and I drempt that I was sleeping in my dorm room when I 'awoke'. I could move my eyes, arms and lower body(I think); This has happened on every occasion. But for some reason something stopped my head from turning left. Then I felt like something flew from my window which is next to my bed and landed on my arm which began to tingle TREMENDOUSLY, then Something was tugging at it. Now, Im asleep and knew fully that my Window(in the real world) is closed and that I was dreaming. I have a method to wake myself by shutting my eyes in my dream tight then re-opening them until I wake, but the dream started to escalate in anxiety, then I started to speak calling for family. I finally woke and my eyes followed the method that i do in my dreams to wake as they burst open.

Is possible that I caused my own Sleep paralysis in an attempt to escape my dream. Because from this description of sleep paralysis the person knows their awake but cant move. I knew I was asleep because I was still dreaming.

Nevohc's picture

I don't believe it is sleep paralysis

My father was sleeping in his room, then all of a sudden he could not move or speak. He felt as if something was holding him down in the bed. So, he muscle up with all his might and flash whatever was holding him. Then, he noticed it was a ghost holding him down as it became visible to him. He ran it down with his machete and the ghost ran out of the house. At this point he was not sleeping. Do you have an explanation for that? Early Sunday morning, I was sleeping in my bed with my girlfriend. Suddenly, she felt a presence and try to wake. Her eyes were opened, she tried calling me but not sound. She tried poking me, but I only felt her hands slightly touching me. We were cuddling, she saw a brown woman with tall black hair trying to pull me away from her. She repeat Psalm 23, The lord is my shepherd and the thing went under my bed and back again until eventually it disappeared. How do you explain that? I once tried sleeping at the top of my bed and was tormented, so I went to the bed foot to sleep. As I was about to dose off, I saw an image walked passed me trying to get to my face, so I tried to get up. I could not move or talk, so I roll from side to side until I was able to move. I'm a believer of science, however I know what I saw and this is pure evil. How do you explain it?

Serendip Visitor's picture

I experience this very often

I experience this very often now,4-5 times a week, and I am getting really freaked out, it even happens when i have just fallen asleep for a few minutes

Serendip Visitor's picture

Hi mate, Couple of bricks..

Hi mate,

Couple of bricks.. put them under the feet at the bottom end of the bed to give it a slight tilt. Give it a crack and report back :)

Serendip Visitor's picture

Best answer... stop worrying

Best answer... stop worrying about it. Stress and anxiety are the number 1 drivers

adaS85's picture

cant sleep

Well I researched this finally tonight after waking from an episode. I can feel my body start to go numb and I feel omy body being dragged across the bed, it takes so much effort to snap out of it and like others on here I do here voices and see thinhs. Is there anything I can take to make this go away. I don't want to go back to sleep: (

angelina's picture

afraid to sleep

I have experienced this since i was 19 I'm 28 now. Before now i only had them once or twice a year since i have had my 2 kids it seems to get worse. I find myself staying up late to make myself tired so i could sleep but that has failed me. I have experienced the shadow figure and some noises. I even see real people like they are doing something and then when i come to it's not what really happened. like a week ago i thought i saw my dad's girlfriend walk past to go out side, but when i finally was able to move she was laying in bed asleep. I'm still not sure why I'm having them more now like once a week. I'm driving myself crazy trying to figure out what i can do to keep them from happening. Sometimes if i feel myself going into a deep sleep i try to wake myself because i know I'm about to have one. I can't sleep on my back or in a upright position. I also can feel my head jerk but it's not really moving how scary is that. I want to get tested but not sure if it's going to help me.

patty's picture

sleep paralysis scares me

It happens to me very often last night i was sleeping i couldnt move or talk i was so terrified i.started praying.i saw soul shadows as if it was my soul flying around at sametime i know i didnt lock my k room door because my husband k kk mu dpor nights so while paralysed i remember locking the door but i know i didnt before bed so whem husband comes home the door is locked shocked me bcause i left it open for him but i clearly remember seeing myself locking the door so im scared did i do sleep walking or how did i manage to lock the door while paralyzed i remember praying seeing soul shadows and locking the door but if i couldnt move how did i lock the door was it my soul walking or me im so scared i need more info

Lezly's picture

deep sleep

So my problem is the fact that I wanna get up and I can't I want to yell and I can't I try to move and I thinl im moving but in realitu im not I want to shake my head to snap out of it and im not able too and it drags me into a deep sleep all over I don't like that feeling I dont see ghosts or dark figures don't hear stuff at all. Pleae help me.amd now my son is having this problem too but when I feel his going threw it I wake him up and pray over him

sgroclkc's picture

Physiological symptoms of sle

Physiological symptoms of sleep paralysis are the same with those of syncope. Thus, sleep paralysis is caused by syncope. For experts in cardiovascular diseases, sleep paralysis or syncope is a common symptoms of cardiovascular disease. For a long time, due to the ignorance of physiological knowledge of syncope , ischemie cerebrale , slow beat, fast beat and so on, psychological illusion in people’s sleep generated by such physical symptoms i.e. the nightmare really has puzzled the psychologists, therefore they put forward a wide range of wrong even absurd views on the nightmares, which both have no scientific basis, and could not be confirmed, even more were not self-consistent. For example, a medical expert Debacke drew the correct conclusion that the anxiety-dream resulted from ischemie cerebrale according to the physiological symptoms of the anxiety-dream of a boy of thirteen. Freud called such view was a " medical mythology" in the book of Dream Psychology. Most important,the experiment confirmed the idea. For example, a place in country , there is a "haunted" bed which makes people have sleep paralysis or syncope every night, and it is this fact that the pillow in the bed is too high will reduce cerebral blood flow.

Snow's picture

Sleep paralysis

I am 17 and Female.....I used to have sleep paralysis every once of month. When I was 16 my sleep paralysis attacks would come on EVERY WEEK MORE THAN TWICE A DAY! Now my attacks last 6 or more times in one night back-to-back- (usually i try to calm my mind and wiggle by head/ toes or whatever i can manage to move) For a while sleep paralysis stopped in September of 2012 and I haven't had an attack in tell yesterday night, November 30,12
My attacks come on when i'm -waking up from sleep- or when -i'm going to bed ready to sleep- if i calm my mind down I can at least wiggle my head to move.

What happens to me when attack:

1.Every single time i have an attack it's always a demonic negative feeling.

Ex: I try to keep myself awake and moving but something keeps drawing me into sleep making my movements slow and my eyes heavy.

2.I'm paralyzed

3. I always hear a weird buzzing sound

4. I always keep my eyes closed. ---

5. I get dreams , while in sleep paralysis mode... that are so messed up and weird and make no sense at all...

6. I freak out, and wiggle my head, fingers, or toes, it takes all of my energy because i usually have to fight to get out of sleep paralysis mode. other wise my body will try to draw me back in and i'll be paralyzed for another few seconds to a minute.
7. I wake up scared out of my mind.

THEN THE ATTACKS REPEAT -same night- ABOUT 5 OR 6 TIMES!! Usually last for a minute or two OR THREE >:(
Maybe a few seconds if i'm lucky and i can move.

Last night:
My body froze up 8 times total back-to-back

In my hallucination dream, i saw heaven and hell side by side and a red figure standing in hell.

Heaven was white and gold and hell was black and red.

The dream was a little blurry and i remember hearing (WHILE I'M FIGHTING TO GET OUT OF MY ATTACK) "You will obey me or you will go to hell."....

That scared me. i successfully ended the attack but i ended up drawn back in. and when i was drawn back in i was back at heaven and hell. i try to move again but this time i cant move anything but my eyes. I finally can move again and i finally wake up.


Medusa's picture

Reply To Snow

Dear Snow, I would say after waking would be Sleep Paralysis but when your going to bed sounds more like Out-Of-Body Experiences. I thought I would reply to you and reassure you shouldn't be scared, i've had it before but it felt very sedative and calming, and I let it do it's thing.
It sounds to me like your dream was metaphorical, I don't know you but maybe you're stressed and need to make a decision between something positive and negative.
You said you heard "You will obey me or you will go to hell." I believe, being a firm God believer that it was God who said that, as they say "Fear God" him saying that because he's trying to communicate with you, as he does everyone but not everybody listens and wants to make a positive change in your life, as in "you will go to hell" not being completely alive in life.
The fact your having "attacks" 5 or 6 times a night makes me think you're insanely gifted... God's Gift...
Hope you see this and it helps!

Snow's picture


Thanks for helping me, i keep getting Sleep Paralysis and sooner or later i'm going to have to stop trying to get out of it and see what happens when i try to relax. I will try this hopefully it works!

Serendip Visitor's picture

Your symptoms are identical to mine

Im a 24 year old male and out of all these yours fits my symptoms identical. All the feelings to a T. The most similar part is it does it to me 7 to 8 times back to back. It seems like when i come out of an episode i fall back into one as fast as i close my eyes. I try my hardest to scream and move but get nowhere. Its the worst feeling a human can feel i just had three episodes its 11:34 p.m. And i just researched this found you and im comPletely freaked out to go back to bed.

Snow's picture

Sleep Paralysis

Sleep paralysis is scary I always hear 'amplified noises' -if you want to call them that-. I always hear talking, laughing, singing, music, animal sounds,buzzing, my own heart beat 'amplified, breathing and my dreams/hallucinations are even more scarier than I can even explain half of the time.Also I read online that a lot of people enjoy their Sleep paralysis episodes and that they're happy! .....I don't know why these things happen but there is always a reason for something.

The other night I heard a crow cawing several times-- while in SP mode.
It's like every sound is amplified to me. Surly some of theses sounds can't be hallucinations...right? The sounds seem SO REAL!

Liv's picture


For the last couple of years I'm pretty sure I've been experiencing this. First I get this weird sound in my ears like hissing or pressure and then I feel my muscles go tight and I feel like there is someone there. A few times I've felt like I'm being choked, I can open my eyes and twitch my fingers but usually I clamp my eyes closed. Its getting to the point where I have to leave a light on or just not sleep. Can anyone help?

Hailey's picture

A few months ago I was laying

A few months ago I was laying in my bed, I woke up to someone laughing but I saw no one. For some reason I thought I was yelling my little brothers name, I thought it was him laughing, but then I realized nothing was coming out and I couldn't move my body. I don't how long it lasted and I'm not sure what happened right after that, I don't remember waking up right after but I don't remember falling back asleep either. It was a very deep laugh and sounded like an old man. I don't see why I thought it was my brother, he's 7. I didn't realize it wasn't my brother until after I had awaken from this. It hasn't happened since then tho.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Check your call log now. Did

Check your call log now. Did you really ring anyone? :)

Serendip Visitor's picture

Ok the strangest/ scariest

Ok the strangest/ scariest thing just happenend to me. Ive been paralized in my sleep before but knew it was a dream this wassoodifferent. So it began at 10 am i was just laying in bed watching tv trying to take a little nap. I dont ever remeber actually dosing off and even after i woke up from this dream i was in complete shock it was all a dream. Everything seemed so real. So i was trying to take the blanket off of me and it was soooo hard to doo i tried with everything i had and finally succeedee this whole time i felt my left eye swollen shut and for some reason i could barley even see out of my right eye even tho there was nothing wrong with it.. i was in my room the same room i was in when i "fell aslleep" i ran to my mirror and tried to force my eye open with my hand it was sooo strange cause the show i was watching was still on my tv. And it just seemed soo. Real. So my face was yet from i guess crying from keep trying to open my eyes. I had my cell phone on my bed and since i coukd see that clear i had to like search around with my hands. I tried to go in recent calls to dial heather this lady ive been stayi g with. And since i couldnt see and my phone is touch screen it was almost impossible. The contacts button was easy cquse its on my home screen and i managed to hit the h on the keyboard. I was panicking and the phone rang and she answerd it i told her what was happening and it was wierd cause its almost like she didnt care. Shes at work around the time so i hear her talking to her co workers and laughing. And im crying on the phone asking her to help me. At this time my left eye is slowly opening and the swollenss is going away again i look at my mirror. But i dont have a pupil and my eye goes back to being swollen shut. I dont know how i landed on my bed but i was laying down again trying to get up again but again i was paralized. Then alll of a sudden i wake up and aalll i remember saying was "ohh my goshhh that was really only a dreamm" i was shockedddd it seemed to reall me calling her the tv show kept playing i was wearing the same exact thing.i didnt seem Ny shadows or spirits or any of that nature. However i dont remeber how it came across or where but i remeber seeing like an icon of an alien head. It really scaredd me. When i was up my left eye hurt a little and i had a horrible head ache.. my phone wqas rihht were i left it

Serendip Visitor's picture

I find myself concerned at

I find myself concerned at the mental state of someone who is in a position to grab their battleaxe from the wall and run downstairs screaming.

You refer to your dreams telling you when people die. Many die every day. You say you have those dreams all the time. How many relatives do you have? It's very easy when we want to to find patterns everywhere. Think first of any exceptions to the rule and rule them out before reaching a conclusion. Things may be more than what appears to be face value.

Rizwan Khan's picture

Oh! This is called sleep paralysis

Hi I am 28 year old guy from India. Now I know the term "Sleep paralysis". This started with me when I was 7 years old. In early stages I use to face this condition 4 to 5 times in a single night. It kept recurring 3 to 4 times in a week till I reached 15. Next 10 years it slowed down to once or twice a month. I almost forgot it in last 3 years but this blog brought it back to my mind and I am sharing the basic symptoms as such. It always happened whenever I tried to sleep and thought of this condition came to my mind. It used to start with a paralytic condition where I remained aware of my condition. I can hear people but it is not clear. With much efforts, I can even open my eyes partially but it's all blurred. Sometimes a sound started slowly and it gets louder and louder and this was kinda annoying. I lose complete control over my body including legs, hands and head, the tongue gets paralysed completely. The breathing gets tough and it gives a sinking feeling overall. A helpless situation where you can't do anything but you remain aware of your condition. There were couple of options left with me to come out of this weird condition. Whenever I was alone in my bedroom, I use hold my breath and apply all possible body strength to create a shivering effort within my body and try to shake my body as hard as I can. It use to take 4 or 5 efforts to come out of this condition. Sometime it was funny. I am out of this paralysis and someone wakes me up or I come out of this condition on my own only to realise later that I am still there in the same condition and I again start efforts to come out of it. The other easier option was to call someone for help when I am sleeping with some friend nearby or a family member. Since the tongue gets paralysed, all I can do is blow air deep my my throat creating a noise like howling. When I was a kid, my family used to think that I got scared while dreaming and they use to come and shake me. I was too shy and never told them what was actually happening to me. When I moved to hostel at university, I took my room partner in confidence and told him the truth. He use to shake me up and help me come out of this helpless condition. Sometimes I use to come out on my own by making efforts. When I come out of this condition, I feel tired and it is like war, completely exhausted. I have come to conclusion that this is probably a genetic disorder mainly related to neurons. The information given in the article here is very useful and it will help people to understand it scientifically.

Experiencer's picture

The first thing that signals

The first thing that signals me that I'm about to be paralyzed is the "loud voice". It's a voice from people I know, sometimes groups of people calling my name or laughing people, it's kinda annoying. And when the time I open my eyes, I'm already paralyzed.

Guide's picture


Yes. Science does indeed have an explanation for most things. As our knowledge of science increases so to do our number of explainable things. Surely this is expected.

Of course there will be stubborn individuals out there who have an aversion to science and will proclaim there is magic at work. Magic is what primitives usually call it when you haven't yet found the scientific explanation no matter how far fetched it may be.

Either way, reassurance will also help deal with panic attacks. Repeating the name Jesus or Allah or reciting the names of the wombles backwards may do it for you. If it works stick with it.

Guide's picture


It's a common feature that many of you are anxious or stressed in general. I would advise the following:

1. DON'T eat within 4-5 hours of bedtime. Waters ok but anything high in calories will result in increased neural activity overnight.

2. Mental state and anxious or fearful response is key here. Exercises to lessen your fear will prove to be invaluable. When ypur can consider your own death whenever it comes and accept it you're there. After all what's the worst eh.

3. If anyone is in or near a country where it's legal and is suffering repeat problems with this condition.. look into something called ayahuasca/caapi. The immediate effects don't sound ideal. In an anxious state you will most likely be sick and have scary visions. However the chemical composition will also result in release. You will most likely be significantly calmer. I would equate it with facing your dreams and fears and feeling great about it. That said, I've never tried it over here in the UK. It's not legal here..

Serendip Visitor's picture

Science almost always have an

Science almost always have an explanation for everything...It might b sleep paralysis but evil is behind it 100%and its been happening to me for 15 years...whenever this happens to me I say either a prayer or sing a gospel song in my head feeling a tingling sensation until I'm able to move...This is beyond annoying and I can only ask God to keep me.....Satan dosnt bother the ones he already has...

Serendip Visitor's picture

Mr. Takahashi, I have noticed

Mr. Takahashi,

I have noticed that you use the term “he” in your article to refer to sex of all ages. Please don’t use that term to describe both males and females, since the term “she” would not be used to describe both males and females. I am not a feminist, just someone looking to confirm equality.


Simba AC's picture

If i may ask for assistance

Hello, my name is Antonio. I just turned 17 and i believe i have been suffering from SP for a while. I am no stranger to the sensation, however i can't say i hallucinate but rather i hear everything around me. Believe it or not I just woke up from such an episode. It has been occurring frequently too frequent, the nightmare begins almost every other night now. I have a history of extreme anxiety and insomnia (which I recently conquered) so I believe this is a remnant of my disorder. Instead of letting it take control i decided to take action, if someone can please help me so i don't fall back into that dark hole i fought so hard to get out of.

Serendip Visitor's picture

I when ever I have SP, I

I when ever I have SP, I always wiggle my toes to get out of it. Every time im in the SP there is always a nightmare along with it followed by me hearing voices, objects, and seeing the unusual. What i did to fix this was, I created mental characters to protect me, so as soon the SP starts to take control, the chatacters are activated and start to battle it out, and the SP goes away. I see this as a whole mental thing that you must learn to take control of. This may sound out of the norm, but it works.

Serendip Visitor's picture

what helps me

Hi Antonio, sorry to hear that you are experiencing things.
Personally, what has helped me is to embrace a bible to my chest/heart when I go to sleep [like hugging someone]. This has worked for me on every night that I have experienced these events [when this happens to me repeatedly in a night, I grab the bible, hold it my chest and sleep].

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