Many people have experienced waking up from their sleep in the middle of the night and found that they cannot move. Even though they are awake and fully conscious of what is happening around them they are completely immobilized. Many have sensed a seen or an unseen presence on them or in the room. It is an extremely unnerving feeling and the person going through it is gripped by fear. This group of symptoms is popularly known, especially in the medical world, as ‘Sleep paralysis’.
Research conducted by J. Allan Cheyne indicates that it happens generally when one is going into a sleep state or coming out of a sleep state. Cheyne and some other researchers have stated the following as some of the key observations about Sleep paralysis.
It occurs frequently among 3-6% of the world population.
About 30% of young adults experience Sleep paralysis at least once in their lives.
It is more likely to happen to young adults.
It can last from a few minutes to a few hours at a time.
People also experience, sense or see a presence around them during their paralysed state. Fear grips them and some of them have said that a demonic force was out to possess their soul or was trying to crush or smother them.
In some cases, people feel pressure or a choking sensation. This is accompanied by breathing difficulties. In few instances, this escalates into sexual molestation or assault.
A foul smell has been perceived at times during the paralytic attack.
It is more likely to happen when sleeping on one’s back (supine position).
People who go through it are embarrassed by the event thinking that something must be wrong with them mentally.
3. What do modern sciences say about Sleep paralysis?
3.1 Hypotheses offered as an explanation by modern sciences
Research on Sleep paralysis is continuing but up to now modern sciences do not have a clear and conclusive understanding of the phenomenon. However the various hypotheses put forth as possible explanations of the various symptoms are:
Those undergoing severe stress are reliving past horrors through sleep paralysis.
They are hallucinations akin to dreaming.
They are due to the activation of that part of the brain which monitors the surroundings for threats and launches responses to perceived dangers. An activation of this part of the brain in the absence of any real threat during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) part of sleep gives rise to a feeling of an intimidating presence in the immediate surroundings. (REM part of sleep is that part associated with dreaming when the eyeballs are seen to be moving rapidly.)
They are due to temporary disruption of the barrier between sleeping and waking state, so that some sleep phenomena, of which paralysis is one, breaks into wakefulness.
3.2 Causes of Sleep paralysis according to modern sciences
According to modern sciences the probable causes of sleep paralysis include:
- Life stressors
- Sleep deprivation
- Long-standing sleep disturbances in those who have been sexually abused
- Genetic link
3.3 What is the treatment for Sleep paralysis according to modern sciences?
As neither the specific cause nor the explanation of the phenomenon is available all proposed treatment for sleep paralysis is strictly empirical at best.
Some say that sleep paralysis can be controlled with Fluoxetine-type anti-depressants, which inhibit REM sleep. This is especially useful where there is an underlying depression. Others refute the use of medication by stating:
Sometimes the most effective way to deal with the disorder is to get a clear understanding of the disorder and develop your own effective ways of waking yourself or your partner.
It is also important to be reassured that many other people have it and that you are not the lone sufferer.
4. Spiritual research into Sleep paralysis
The following is a spiritual explanation of some of the key observations mentioned above. All explanations and statistics quoted here are obtained from Universal Intellect by seekers of the Spiritual Science Research Foundation (SSRF) with a highly developed sixth sense.
Feeling a presence while paralysed
Spiritual research by the SSRF into the causes of Sleep paralysis has revealed that one of the main spiritual reasons for these phenomena is an attack by ghosts (demons, devils, negative energies etc.). This is the reason why in most cases people feel a presence or can actually see a ghost. It is not hallucinations, but is actually a ghost (demon, devil, negative energy etc.). We perceive the presence through our sixth sense.
Likelihood of occurrence in human beings:
The following table gives a breakdown of the frequency of attack experienced by seekers of God and non-seekers. It includes all cases of sleep paralysis whether the root cause is in the physical, psychological or spiritual plane.
A seeker is a person who makes honest and sincere efforts on a daily basis to grow spiritually. A seeker’s spiritual practice would intuitively conform to the six basic principles of spiritual practice. Having an intense desire for spiritual growth, a seeker on a regular basis strives to improve upon his spiritual practice quantitatively and qualitatively.
Seekers of God due to their spiritual practice are able to access a higher amount of protection from God. Among all the cases of Sleep paralysis only 10% happen in the waking state and 90% happen during sleep. Whether it is a once in a lifetime incidence or frequent, only 30% of people are aware of the occurrences whereas 70% of people are unaware that it has happened to them. This could be because it happens in deep sleep or because the attacks are so fleeting that the person is not even aware of them.