Henry Fuseli’s ‘The Nightmare’ from 1781

The demon who sits on your chest, ghosts, or alien abductions are explanations people have had over the years about sleep paralysis. A frightening experience could only be the result of something supernatural, but scientifically speaking all that is nonsense. According to WebMD, sleep paralysis is the feeling of being awake but not being able to move. It happens when you are falling asleep or waking up. I have experienced sleep paralysis multiple times before. Read my story and you decide if it’s caused by something supernatural or if it’s just another sign of how powerful the mind is.

When I wake I can’t move. I’ve been through this before, I just have to either wake all the way up or go back to sleep. As I’m slowly coaxing myself into waking up, I notice a dark figure of a man at the foot of my bed.  Not much is known about sleep paralysis, but it’s thought to be state when your mind has woken up, but your body hasn’t yet. The hallucinations of dreams seep through so whatever I’m staring at isn’t real. I relax and focus on my breathing.

Then he starts moving. He slowly starts to crawl onto the bed. “This isn’t real, stay calm,” I logically think to myself but a primal sensation takes over my body. I’m watching him make his way up the bed. I begin to panic. I struggle but the disconnect from my mind and body won’t let me move. I’m screaming at the top of my lungs for help, but only muffled noises come out.

Every inch he makes closer sends me into more of a panic. I’m kicking and screaming on the inside. Praying someone would just walk through the door and rid me of this nightmare.  As soon as he’s on top of me he begins to push down on my chest. Every breath gets shorter till I can’t breathe! Is this how people die in their sleep? Is this how I die? Everything starts to fade to black then at once I’m released, automatically pop up in bed, mid-scream. As I look around the room, I see no one else. No dark figure, demon, ghost, or alien in sight.

During cycles of sleep, your mind stops you from acting out your dreams that is the reason you can’t move. It’s an odd sensation. When your body fails you. I can only imagine what it feels like for those suffering neurodegenerative diseases. A mind trapped in a body you no longer control. Yet another sign of how powerful our brains truly are.

“-218-“ by Natalia Crow is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 

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