When I was 19 years old, I experienced what would be the first of many episodes of what scientists call sleep paralysis. Though, I didn’t know that was the name of my terrifying encounters. I was certain I was under attack by demons.
For me (and for most who experience this phenomenon) the encounters always begin while I drift to sleep. What follows next is a being suddenly awakened by the awareness that someone is watching me. I turn to where I perceive a dark presence to be and am suddenly seized upon by an unseen force which binds my tongue and immobilizes my muscles. I am literally powerless to fight off the forceful presence which continues to grow stronger and stronger.
My eyes are open and I am aware of my surroundings, but I cannot. move. a. muscle.
Usually, I see a black, cloudy figure. Sometimes it calls me by my first name (which is super creepy and scary). Always, I end up giving up and pray to Heaven that I will not be destroyed by the evil presence.
Always, I awaken suddenly, freed from the dark bondage which temporarily held me captive. When fully awake, I end up questioning if what I had just experienced truly happened.
Many years later, I stumbled upon a podcast on the topic of sleep paralysis. I was intrigued and listened to the hosts share tale after tale of episodes eerily similar to mine! Was there in fact a medical explanation to my demonic encounters?
According to WebMD–
“Over the centuries, symptoms of sleep paralysis have been described in many ways and often attributed to an “evil” presence: unseen night demons in ancient times, the old hag in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and alien abductors. Almost every culture throughout history has had stories of shadowy evil creatures that terrify helpless humans at night. People have long sought explanations for this mysterious sleep-time paralysis and the accompanying feelings of terror.”
Sleep paralysis is a feeling of being conscious but unable to move. It occurs when a person passes between stages of wakefulness and sleep. During these transitions, you may be unable to move or speak for a few seconds up to a few minutes. Some people may also feel pressure or a sense of choking.
Boom. That’s exactly what I experience. Though, I was a little disappointed to know that my experience wasn’t that unique, I was glad to finally have an explanation for this event which so often visited and terrified me. Now, I don’t get as frightened when it occurs.
It’s still a mystery, though, as to why sleep paralysis happens. If you experience sleep paralysis, the most important thing to do in the moment is try not to panic. Remember, the episode is temporary and soon your brain will knock your body into gear so you can move.