I sometimes go through bouts of sleep paralysis and become fascinated by the topic every time it happens to me. Is it a normal bodily process? Is it a terrifying sleep disorder? Is it supernatural? All facets intrigue me.
Like everyone, I remember my first time. It is always that first time in which you have the most fear, the most self-analysis, the most panic and confusion (this is a solid innuendo).
I think I started having my run-ins with the sleep paralysis “demon” when I was a teenager. For those unfamiliar with the experience…it basically involves waking up, not being able to move a muscle, and seeing a shady figure in the room.
The shady figure is terrifying and its location varies for me, some nights it is far away in the room and other nights it is right on my chest, right up in my bloody grill the wanker.
It is different to a nightmare because you are completely aware that you are awake, your eyes snap open and you…just…can’t…move. You are trapped and breathing becomes incredibly difficult too. Meanwhile, that shady figure in the room just sits there, taunting you with its stillness.
I always enjoy it when conversations about sleep paralysis spring up face-to-face or online on reddit. Hearing other folks experiences and how common this thing is will calm you down, especially if you’re new to the dread and horror of this thing.
Of course, there is science around sleep paralysis and I’m sure it is sound. The basic cause of sleep paralysis is said to be REM atonia. REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement and Atonia means the lack of muscle tension.
Sleep paralysis is when you get stuck in the zone of REM atonia. You wake up during the time in which you shift from consciousness into sleep. You wake up when your body says “Oi! You shouldn’t be awake!” So in a way, as revenge, your body tricks your brain into paralysis and hallucinations.
That’s a bit of a clunky rundown but it seems about right according to the world of lucid dreaming.
Anyway, as much as I love science it’s always the supernatural aspects that are the funnest to talk about.
In Japan, they call it “kanashibar.” It translates to “bound up with metal.”
In China, they know it as “ghost oppression.”
In the US, some people believe it can be related to alien abductions.
In Mexico, teenagers use the phrase “a dead body climbed on top of me” to describe it.
And in African culture, it’s known as “the devil riding your back” where demons have sex with people in their sleep.
The most I’ve had sleep paralysis was 3 times in one week and that was pretty fucking annoying. Because there’s only so much my mind will allow me to entertain the supernatural “demon” side of things I started wondering if it was connected to anxiety, stress, or sleep deprivation.
It seems I usually get it when I haven’t slept well or I have been stressed about life *soppy violin music*.
For me, I have discovered that it usually occurs when I sleep on my back. Dunno about you, but I find sleeping on my side reduces the amount of occurrences.
Apparently, although it only feels like a few seconds, my longest and most distressing one was about 15 minutes. That’s what SHE said. No really, that’s what she said.
My experiences end up being quite relaxed these days, they start intense, but as I come out of it I’m usually snoring away again within minutes.
Word on the street is that sleep paralysis is quite common, so if you haven’t experienced it yet, your time will come.
Say hi to your demon for me.