Sleep Paralysis; Rarely Demonic

Sleep Paralysis; Rarely Demonic

You have retired to rest for the night and you already slept off but somehow you wake up in between and you can not move?

A couple of things would begin to go through your mind including considering if you have moved on to the afterlife and you are looking at your body from outside your body. Visualize what this scenario would look like especially if you needed to use the bathroom and your body is not just responding to you. In this kind of scenario, your body has gone into a temporary pause (paralysis). Sometimes, this pause lasts for a few seconds and in some other cases, progresses to a few minutes.

Now let us properly define what sleep paralysis is.

Sleep paralysis is a neurological disorder. It is usually found in the REM(Rapid eye movement) sleep state. In this state of sleep, there is a temporary paralysis of your muscles by your body to stop voluntary movements. This is to avoid you acting out whatever you might be dreaming about at that period of your sleep .In other words, during this phase it is expected that the individual remains asleep. Once the individual wakes up, he/she is unable to perform voluntary activities such as opening one eye or limb movement. The only activities the person would be able to do are subtle eye movement and respiratory functions.

What are the causes?

There has not been any exact pointer to any direct cause of sleep paralysis. Although there are a few things that have been suggested as possible causes :

1. Anxiety and mental health
People with anxiety and depression are more often than not affected by sleep paralysis. The stress and imminent disrupted sleep patterns that come with this may play a role. However, it is important to remember that this does not draw a direct relationship between this factor as a stable cause of sleep paralysis because sleep paralysis itself could contribute to anxiety and vice versa.

2. Restless sleep and poor sleep quality:  
Studies have found a strong association between poor sleep quality and increased occurrence of sleep paralysis. Insomnia, sleep apnea, or irregular sleep schedules, sets a vulnerability to being plagued by sleep paralysis.

Some other factors might include;
Substance use like alcohol and family traumas and nightmares. All these disrupt the sleep cycle 

Types of sleep paralysis.

There is no formal classification for the types of sleep paralysis as there is usually a variation. A quick classification of some common presentations includes:

Isolated Sleep Paralysis
 This is the most common type, occurring sporadically without any underlying sleep disorder.  Episodes typically happen at random and may not recur frequently.

Recurrent Sleep Paralysis
Individuals experience frequent episodes,  which can significantly disrupt sleep patterns and overall well-being. Living in constant fear of future episodes can worsen anxiety and make it harder to get quality sleep.

Sleep Paralysis with Hallucinations:
Vivid and often disturbing hallucinations, both visual and auditory, accompany the paralysis. These hallucinations can be terrifying, adding to the overall distress of the episode. Common themes include a sense of presence in the room, a feeling of suffocation, or even seeing shadowy figures.

Manifestations of sleep paralysis.

Aside from the inability to perform voluntary actions, sleep paralysis can manifest in a variety of ways, increasing the unpleasant experience. Some of these other manifestations include Hallucinations, both visual and auditory. These hallucinations can range from seeing shadowy figures to feeling a presence on the chest, often referred to as an "incubus" experience. Fear and Panic together with the inability to move coupled with hallucinations can make it difficult to breathe and can lead to a feeling of being trapped or suffocating.


Treatment measures:

Sleep paralysis itself is not dangerous but the fear and anxiety it comes with can affect your sleep quality and daily life. Here are some suggested treatment techniques to manage and reduce the frequency and intensity of sleep paralysis episodes.

1. Relaxation
Practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation before bed can help reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality. This would create a calmer sleep environment and potentially decrease the risk of sleep paralysis episodes. 

2. Maintaining a Regular Sleep Schedule:

  Prioritizing a consistent sleep schedule with sufficient sleep duration is crucial. Going to bed and waking up at a set time each day helps regulate your sleep cycles, leading to more stable and restorative sleep. This can make sleep paralysis episodes less likely.

3. Stress Management
Managing stress through relaxation techniques, therapy, or exercise can be very helpful.  Stress is a known risk factor for sleep paralysis, and reducing stress levels can significantly improve sleep quality and potentially decrease the frequency of episodes. Techniques like meditation, yoga, or spending time in nature can be helpful tools for stress management.

4. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT):
 This form of therapy can be particularly beneficial for individuals who experience significant anxiety or fear associated with sleep paralysis. CBT assists in developing coping mechanisms to deal with the fear and anxiety that can accompany sleep paralysis episodes.  

5. Medication:

In severe cases, where sleep paralysis significantly disrupts sleep and daily life, medications may be prescribed to regulate sleep patterns or manage anxiety.  However, medication is typically not the first line of treatment.  Doctors will usually recommend lifestyle changes and other interventions before resorting to medication. 


Sleep paralysis can be a scary and unpleasantly distracting experience, but it is important to remember that it is not dangerous and it does not need to control your sleep.  

By understanding the causes and manifestations of sleep paralysis, along with available treatment measures, you can take steps to manage this sleep disorder and get back to enjoying restful nights. 

 Remember, you are not alone – millions of people experience sleep paralysis, and there are resources available to help you overcome it. We are waiting in the comment section to learn from your experience, kindly share if you have any.