Spiritual Twist to Sleep Paralysis, a Mysterious Neurological Condition

Many people who experience sleep paralysis report having a sense of terror when they feel a ghostly “presence” (often described as malevolent, threatening, or evil) accompanied by strange sounds and smells. Some even report unique experiences like the sensation of floating or being outside the body.


Have you ever woken up in the middle of night paralyzed? Do you ever feel an evil presence by your bed or have you experienced hypnagogic hallucinations that you are being attacked while you are asleep? Well, you are neither fantasizing nor lucid dreaming: sleep paralysis is real, and it is indeed a nightmare. You’re also not the only one – the terrifying disorder affects millions of people worldwide.

In medical terms, sleep paralysis refers to a brief period at sleep onset, or off-set, during which a person is unable to move or speak while remaining awake and aware of the immediate environment.  In lay man’s terms, sleep paralysis is a condition in which a person awakens from sleep but is temporarily paralyzed. Sleep paralysis may last from several seconds to several minutes or even longer, and it usually occurs just upon awakening or right upon falling asleep.

What causes sleep paralysis? What happens during sleep paralysis? Why does sleep paralysis accompany the strangest hallucinations? Is sleep paralysis a spiritual phenomenon or a neurological condition? Can a demon attack you in your sleep and cause sleep paralysis? Stephanie Pappas, Live Science Contributor, explains:

“During the most dream-filled phase of sleep, our muscles become paralyzed, preventing the body from acting out what’s going on in the brain. The brain chemicals kick into action during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, a phase that usually begins about 90 minutes into a night’s rest. During REM, the brain is very active, and dreams are at their most intense. But the voluntary muscles of the body — arms, legs, fingers, anything that is under conscious control — are paralyzed.

This paralysis keeps people still even as their brains are acting out fantastical scenarios; it’s also the reason people sometimes experience sleep paralysis, or the experience of waking up while the muscles are still frozen. This sensation has been the basis for myths such as the succubus and the incubus, demons said to pin people down in their sleep, usually to have sex with them.”

Sleep Paralysis as a Spiritual Experience

Sleep paralysis is widely reported  in  the  general  population  and  is  frequently accompanied  by  diverse  and often  vivid  hallucinations. Sleep paralysis–related hallucinations are likely important contributors to a variety of paranormal beliefs and supernatural traditions.

Many people report having a sense of terror when they feel a ghostly “presence” (often described as malevolent, threatening, or evil) accompanied by strange sounds and smells. Some even report unique experiences like the sensation of floating or being outside the body. In medical terms, these experiences are defined as hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations. Brain Decoder writes:

“Sleep paralysis can sometimes cause eerie sensations of floating outside one’s body or looking down upon oneself from the bedroom ceiling. In certain cultures, such out-of-body experiences are attributed to the “soul”— as if in a type of “astral travel,” the spiritual self projects itself into an alternative realm of existence. But out-of-body experiences originate in the brain. In fact, they can reliably be produced in the laboratory. We simply have to disrupt the activity of a brain region called the temporoparietal junction.”

However, a 2015 University of California and Harvard Medical School study examined cultural explanations of sleep paralysis – or the Pandafeche attack in Italy – and found an overwhelming percentage of participants believed that a supernatural creature, the Pandafeche, often referred to as an evil witch, sometimes as a ghost-like spirit or a terrifying humanoid cat, had possibly caused their sleep paralysis.


Dr David Hufford, a professor and director at the Doctors Kienle Center for Humanistic Medicine at the Penn State College of Medicine, explored a number of interpretations given to sleep paralysis to suggest that even a terrifying sleep paralysis can have a positive spiritual effect for the person experiencing it.

“I do not believe that sleep paralysis is a judgment. Quite the opposite, I believe my sleep paralysis episodes are an awakening. I wish I could make the episodes go away and I often pray that they do. I think sleep paralysis has opened my eyes to a spiritual world and because of that I have looked to the Bible on how to put on the full armor of God to prepare yourself against such things. Although I wish sleep paralysis would go away, it has ironically strengthened my relationship with God.”

Are the experiences that occur during sleep paralysis real or could it be your psyche playing tricks on you? Is sleep paralysis a spiritual state of consciousness or is it the consequence of stress and sleep deprivation? Do spirits show up in sleep paralysis or do they represent your fears and hidden desires? Please share your thoughts/experiences in the comments section below…

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  1. Sleep paralysis is a wonderful tool in trying to have an out of body experieince because when you want to go outside your body you can’t move a muscle when you are out side your body you break reality and what ever you think of happens in a sense going out of your body is consciously going to the dream wolrd but it is more finite and real you can actually touch things.

  2. Something similar happened to me, which was like the movie Inception, i’ve dreamt my self without my face skin and i went to check my face and i found blood on it,but then i woke up, it happened again then i was very frightened in my dream, i felt like falling, but then i woke up for real and i was all sweaty and scared, i went to a mirror and thanked god when i saw my normal face.

  3. I have had sleep paralyses with nightmarish figures most of my life.. earliest recollection was as a baby when that shadow creeped under my cot bed, very stressful for the baby me situation and very few other things i can recall from me of that age. Since then i’ve had many frightening experiences, until i’d figured out how to invoke powers drawn from normal lucid dream experiences where i ‘ve had ample chances of training control without the immediate feeling of danger of the sleep paralyses.
    Once i realized i could fight back by summoning balls of light that could instantly destroy the shadow they appeared less frequently, though when they did they actually appeared with some kind of form so that might confuse me.
    One instance it appeared as a human with a black dog face (kinda like Anubis only way more muscular), once as a three headed white dragon and another time as a white spirit of a dog… On the instances of the white ones i was actually physically cold so i can understand the game my brain played me in order to express a more believable version of the monster to the natural surrounding temperatures and on the account of the dog spirit it didn’t even have the malicious sense, it was actually trying to warn me that the AC was on and i should wake up and turn it off!
    It is all a game your brain plays to you releasing your deepest darkest fears when you are on your weakest most helpless state, by understanding this, you start to understand how your brain works and how to harness its power!

  4. It is damn real.. i have these paralysis moments… i just woke up.. aware but couldnt even move a little… i wanted to call for help but i could i was sounding like as if my mouth was shut… so inside my mind i started praying and after a min or so… it was gone… it has happened with me about 6 to 8 times…

  5. I have suffered this often. First occurrences were during my time in the military where I would have nightmares of being shot by friendly fire. I would then wake but be trapped inside my body. I would not be able to move for a good 20 seconds. Later in life I came down with PTSD, and to this day I still suffer from Sleep Paralysis. Sometimes I feel as if I am being raped in my conscious state but I am unable to move. I feel the presence, it is strong and disables my movements. I have felt a presence too during these times. Further, my wife is a Zulu who also feels a kind of malevolent presence at the times I suffer these occurrences. Since my time in the military overseas in places such as The Gulf, Africa and The Balkans I have had many strange experiences, including street lamps being extinguished as i walk past them at night, birds being flung to the floor from 30 feet up by an invisible assailant. I now suffer from auditory hallucinations and have been able to capture the voices on Electronic Recording Equipment, these recordings known as EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena). I have also recorded what appears to be a ghostly apparition on camcorder. The phenomena is not all down to being ‘all in the head’ but people become scared when you tell them you have evidence to suggest this. I have noted that recently German Scientists have flatlined nearly 1000 volunteers from all walks of life and all faiths. Some have been clinically dead for 40 minutes before being re-animated and it is said that most or all of them experienced floating above themselves and encountering a divine benevolent being. In my opinion the field of Parapsychology and these kinds of phenomena need to be investigate further. As for me, I now do not sleep too well and have suffered Sleep Deprivation since my service career, and often, I am plagued by a presence that deters me from sleeping. The psychiatric services remain adamant it is all in my head, but those in the know know this to be a wrong approach. It will never be treated correctly until we negotiate the very real possibility and perhaps fact, that there is more to this Universe and Human Experience than they are willing to divulge.

  6. I suffer from sleep paralysis and spiritual attacks. I think that both the spiritual and scientific explanations can be true. A spiritual experience could well have neurological consequences.

  7. i think its a consciousness problem not even energetic… people need to know their way back to the body as awareness and motor coordination… dream interpretation solves the issues… study by association with self by type… the brain is in a dream different other than the present time… and there are traps of daily problems in the dreams like mazes of subconsciousness…

  8. I’ve had 3 episodes for 3 days in a row of Sleep Paralysis around 4 years ago. All those 3 events occurred almost at the same time in the night: between 3 o clock and 3.33 (The 2nd one). The 2nd one was the most powerful. I’ve had the sensation of floating above myself and from the ceiling I could clearly see my own body and next to it, after few seconds I floated off, I saw a humanoid shadow standing. He did nothing, he was just standing and I can’t tell who or what it was but I clearly saw this scene. The other times i just woke up, opened my eyes, felt my body trembling, tried to call my brother for help and felt a very cold shiver that lasted about 20 seconds, maybe, even though was summer and it was warm that year. I didn’t know anything about sleep paralysis before. I discovered its existence 2 years later and had other 2 episodes but not so intense and long. I don’t know what to believe in but I am a skeptical guy and I like to think that they was just spots in my life due to some kind of malfuctioning in my brain. I must admit that I felt changed since than. I felt more active and receptive. I’ve learned things in very few time than ever before. I’d like to discuss this with some experts.

    • waking up that early is usually a wake up call frkm spiritual beings trying to get your attention..i, too used to wake up around 3am every day for no reason until I read more aboit it online—I hope you habe experienced spiritual awakening…333 is by the way an Angel Number that your spirit guides are with you..just call upon them for help:)

      • last night i had a dream that something was chasing me around a house, I was standing next to these two double doors and the being was outside in the woods, tall dark and slender, i closed the doors to keep it out. Next thing I know, in my dream, i’m watching myself sleeping in my room and i check my phone and it says the number 333 along with other text I cant make out. Two seconds after checking my phone a voice calls out to me WHATEVER YOU DO DO NOT LOOK AT YOUR PHONE. However it was too late and my body curled up and i started convulsing as i became possessed in my dream. Immediately i awake but i could not move for around 3 seconds. I lay there extremely disturbed from what i had just experienced for a few minutes then decide to shine my phone flashlight around to make sure there was nothing in the room, for i did not feel pleasant energy at the time. I walked to my bathroom peed and then checked my phone, it said 3:45. I took some cbd oil fell back asleep and had pleasant dreams. I woke up in the morning and researched what my dream meant. Then i Discovered the Devils time was at 3:33 am, so disturbed because i believe this episode happened during that witching hour. Now the morning i called out to whatever entity it was, saying I wont let you have me and the light above flickered… Im not sure what this all means but Im either going to see a psychologist or go to church.

  9. I had several sleep paralysis episodes, the first one was terrifying as described with a dark strong creature that jumps into my body and doesn’t allow me to move. the other ones just moving out of my body going through walls and wherever place my subconscious wanted to go.
    All experiences happened to me in the morning before I was going to wake up, the first feeling was like being in a strong wind or current or flow that is trying to pull you out, if you are not afraid and let it happen you start to floating around.
    Once, I was floating around, but that morning one of my eyes was not completely closed, and I had this fixed image that was following everywhere and every time I focused on this image myself moved to my body instantly, so I reach the conclusion that everything is a game of the brain, you subconscious is still dreaming and your consciousness wakes up, but your body is still paralyzed, your subconscious has the control but your consciousness perceives everything so real.
    It is a very very nice experience if you are not afraid and let the experience flow.

  10. I’ve had sleep paralysis on a recurring basis for over 30 years. It happens when I’m falling asleep. I dream intensely, or not, while lying in bed and unable to move. My eyes are sometimes open while I’m dreaming. I do not see demons or spirits or beasts and there is no chest pressure. It is however slightly terrifying. It tightens around me quickly. I get myself out by managing to wiggle my foot or other body part till I’m physically pulled out of it’s grip. I’m afraid if I let go and into it I’ll die? And sometimes it takes everything I have to get out of it.
    I’m not so much afraid as curious as to if it’s of use as a spiritual tool. To let go into it perhaps, will allow me to consciously enter the dream state? Or maybe have an astral or out of body experience?

  11. Just wanted to add, I’m not somebody who is religious or mystically inclined. I consider this primarily a biological based phenomenon.

  12. I have had sleep paralysis since I was a kid… continuously… always dark beings with black hoody surrounding me and approaching my bed.. very scary. So few years ago I decided to stand up to them, look at them … and tell them to go back to where they came from.
    So they again showed up and my first instinct was to say :” in the name of Jesus Christ go back to here you came from” and they immediately disappeared. I don’t even believe in Christ in a religious way and I am not even sure why I said it but it worked. It was the intent behind it that made it happen. So next time I felt them in my room I said it again and it worked again. The last tiem they showed up was two years ago. I was with my boyfriend in the bedroom and three of them approached my bed pulling me out of bed. In my head I could see them and could see my boyfriend too so I must have been out of my body.. but totally paralyzed in bed. They were almost on top of me and I was holding on to my boyfriend screaming : don’t let them take me, repeating it over and over and then suddenly a woman showed up at the foot on my bed dressed like a teacher or librarian with brown shoulder length hair and glasses and started saying something and the beings immediately disappeared!!!! what the heck!! and I woke up. This is an important subject and I am shocked how many people are also experiencing it and I thought I was alone in this. I am now a talk radio host and we cover supernatural subjects. If anyone is interested to be on the show, please leave me your email and I will gather a group and we’ll do a show on this.

  13. Yes this has happened to me when I was young. However when the feeling of being paralyzed started to go away I felt an overwhelming feeling of peace… To this day I still cannot explain what h happened to me but at first your afraid and nervous trying to tell or scream and no sounds come out. Definately a very weird experience,,, but like I said,, as the feeling of not vveing able to move or scream a feeling of calmness entered my body and just stayed in bed without telling anyone what just happened to me.

  14. It’s happened to me and people I know a few times. I accept the scientific explanation however deep down I can’t help but feel there is a spiritual meaning to it. It’s like an intuition. I’ve always been Somewhat spiritual whereas my family are not and I am the only one who experiences this. I’ve always been a big sleeper and didn’t have a traumatic childhood so the sleep deprivation/ptsd logic doesn’t apply to me. I don’t fit the scientific mold. I’ve had this occur sporadically since the age of perhaps 10. There is always the feeling of terror or evil that is described and I can’t understand how so many have the same feeling yet that particularly part can’t be explained by science, hence my belief there must be another force involved to some extent. How can people whom I would consider to be “textbook” candidates not experience this ever and yet a normal, healthy pre-teen does?

  15. I’ve had episodes of sleep paralysis at least three times in a week for the past five months. The scary thing happened about three days ago when it happened again. During the episode, I saw a picture display of various individuals and then I had this fast whirly feeling in my head. I felt like I was going to implode. I don’t know what it means.
    NB- My episodes happen whenever I take an afternoon nap.

  16. I experienced sleep paralysis for the first time last night. I “woke up” (in parenthesis because apparently I was dreaming and thought the incident to be real)… to what I thought to be flashing lights and a loud noise outside my bedroom window and I thought to myself that a large truck or possibly train (from the sound) was pulling up outside. When I tried to wake my husband up to investigate, I realized I couldn’t move… it felt like I was putting all my internal will into sitting up, but my body was not responding AT ALL. So I tried to call out to my husband… no voice. I remember feeling like I was screaming internally but my mouth wouldn’t open and no words would come out… the only thing I remember after that was feeling like I was trying to get out of a straight jacket from the inside-out until I could finally get my physical body to slowly start responding. I wouldn’t say the sleep paralysis experience was necessarily a scary or demonic experience (looking back), it was just the feeling of not being able to get my body to move on command, I remembering wondering if I had somehow been paralyzed or if this is what it would be like to be in a coma… where you’re completely in there but can’t move or talk. I think that now that I know what it is and how it feels, if it happens again, I will be more relaxed and try to see what else happens instead of trying to force myself out of it and back to fully wakefullness. Now that I’ve had time to process it, I feel like the flashing lights/noise were just trying to “get my attention” enough for me to be conscious. It didn’t feel harmful, the only thing that caused me to panic was not being able to move. So next time, once I’m conscious of what’s going on, I hope to be able to observe what I’ve been woken up to see without struggling.

  17. In the late 80s when I was 17 my boyfriend, his sister, and I rented a 2 bedroom apartment together. Not long into our residence she began sleeping on the couch after something ungodly and terrifying happened in her bedroom. She explained to me that an unseen force had climbed on top of her and held her down in her bedroom, waking her from her sleep. Her eyes were somehow sealed shut and she couldnt scream out or fight back. Of course , I told her, it was a bad dream. She insisted it was not. I was perplexed at her insistence but didnt argue. They both moved out a short time later after a’ suicide attempt’ by my boyfriend while i was out. She was able to wrestle the gun from him…his life was spared. Never saw them again. Got a new roomate. I found myself wide awake one night to something that would make me rethink everything I thought I knew. Something evil and unseen was growing like a stormcloud around me. Open your eyes, says my brain. Nothing. OPEN YOUR EYES. Nothing and the thing is definately gonna get what it came for. What one earth is happening. My brain is rapid fire sending messages to every nerve in my body. Overload . Im losing the battle and I’m literally gonna die of fright if it doesnt kill me first. I guess it shuts me down because eventually I wake up. I’m still alive. Im sure of one thing. It wasnt a nightmare. But it is reoccuring. It plays out over the next 20 years. Each one more horrifying than the last.. once it raped me. Not my body but my soul. I cried hard. my mother came to comfort me. Once it hurt me. I had awoken to footseps in my room to find a little girl at my bedside. She said she wanted to share my room. I pushed her. The pain she inflicted was incredible. I almost got raped again. The thing had thrown my legs apart and my dog jumped onto the bed and it was over. I woke up It was gone. I swear the thing is after my soul.

  18. I first started experiencing this a little over a year ago after my mother died and I’ve had 2 n the past 2 days but different, I was able to move my hand a little and my foot, what does this mean

  19. I have had sleep paralysis since I was a kid my experiences are very different each time sometimes I am simply just paralyzed and some times I have the sense of another being with me and othertimes i get clear destinct dreams that are always different that come with a msg given to me. My experiences although scary as I have lost control of my body are not filled with dark beings sitting on my chest. I definitely know when im going into sleep paralysis. I strongly believe in science and am not a religious person nor do I believe in ghosts but my sleep paralysis moments have definitely made me confused as to what is really going on as those msgs I get often become very true.

  20. Interesting comments. Before I became a practising Christian, basically a follower of Jesus, I had a very deep interest in the paranormal and the occult. I was searching for answers, you see. Aren’t we all?

    I also had a fairly low level involvement with the occult, messing around with tarot cards, trying to have out of body experiences and at one point trying to worship pagan gods. I believe I let in negative spiritual forces into my life because of this. I have suffered with sleep paralysis, which included auditory hallucinations, seeing bizarre things, having weird and often upsetting dreams, having dreams that seemed almost spiritual experiences but I now know were not. In short, I believe sleep paralysis to be from demonic spirits. Sounds nutty right, sounds mediaeval, right??! Nope, the Bible is clear about the devil, his fallen angels and their wiles. Do not fear, simply ask the Lord to heal you of sleep paralysis and anything related like that. He is bigger than all our problems.


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