We’ve all seen that famous image circling the internet of a demonic entity sitting on top of a woman’s chest. As for whomever has experienced this inexplicable phenomenon, the afflicted are caught in between whether it is in fact a sleep disorder, “sleep paralysis”, or something supernatural. You might ask yourself is this just all in their head or is there greater forces at play? Maybe it has happened to you?
The truth is sleep paralysis is a problem world wide and itt has been reported by men and women of all ages. Though researchers can’t explain why this happens more to some than others? In fact this phenomenon does not discriminate, cultures around the world have reported it and even have a name for it. In Mexico they call it “se me subio el muerto” The dead got on top of me. In African culture they call it “the witch riding your back”. A simple name for it in the states is “old hag syndrome”.
So what is sleep paralysis you might ask? What causes it and what theories and experiences are linked to this strange cause? The afflicted describe it as a feeling of being trapped in your own body, feeling immobile for what feels like an eternity but in reality its only seconds or minutes. People also report feeling terror and panic to the point they want to scream yet nothing seems to come out. Then trying to open their eyes only to see something or someone in the same room as you So is this a sleep disorder or some kind of demonic entity descending upon your body? And again this raises the question; Science or Supernatural?
Let’s start by exploring the scientific side of it. According to studies sleep paralysis happens in between wake and sleep, Typically described as “being asleep but aware”, the afflicted is conscious of what happens around them. Starting of with our brain shutting off the body muscle functions leading to a temporary loss of voluntary muscle control. Researchers don’t fully understand it but they believe that our mind wakes up but our body doesn’t. Its some sort of and abrupt transition between (REM) sleep and wakefulness. Basically, your mind is stuck in between the dream world and reality. This can lead to hallucinations, as in seeing someone or something that isn’t there, according to studies. Scientists claim the causes are; irregular sleep schedule, lack of sleep, stress, fatigue etc. Yet still, little is known.
Now lets jump into the supernatural side of it. So do demonic entities , ghost and spirits exist? Are they out to get us, can they hurt us? From what I’ve gathered, no one has been harmed or has died from an episode of sleep paralysis. People reportedly experienced the feeling of something or someone getting on top of them. That helpless feeling of not being able to move or scream. People claim of feeling bounded, hearing music, voices, heavy breathing, footsteps and visions. Then going into that struggle to try to move at least one part of your body or make a noise in the hopes someone can hear and come help. Finally as you are able to break free you cant help to wonder if this was all just a dream or maybe just briefly you were in between the spirit world and ours.
Could this be an evil presence out to get you? Maybe a spirit wanting to feel what its like to be alive through you? How do we make this go away? Do we just get used to it? Some might even say just “pray” and it will go away? Those are still unanswered questions of all the people who experience this phenomenon.
In the end some of us might agree this is all perfectly explainable by science. That in fact, it is just some kind of sleeping disorder. Then there is the other half that believe that there is something or someone waiting in the shadows till we fall asleep. Waiting for us to close our eyes and terrorize us for just those few seconds or minutes. Whether you are a skeptic or a believer its something to think about, isn’t it?
By Nina Villanueva