The Puzzling Phenomenon of Sleep Paralysis

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It is a puzzling phenomenon, sleep paralysis. Puzzling in a sense that one may think it is of a supernatural nature. I have suffered from sleep paralysis in the past, and from time to time. The experience can be gripping, and yes, frightening. And often it leaves a feeling of distress and exhaustion the next day. 

Photo of a man sleeping
Sleep paralysis is a temporary inability to move or speak that occurs when you’re waking up or falling asleep.

Many people who suffer from this condition are reluctant to talk about it. They may think it is beyond the bounds of the normal. Some people might even think that they alone are suffering from it. Sleep paralysis seems to be a sleeping disorder which is unpleasant, to say the least. 

When this happens, a person feels paralyzed while sleeping. One awakens usually during the night and feels a sensation of something, or a force gripping them. Thus, they are unable to move their body. Other symptoms of sleep paralysis add to the distress. Heart rate increases and then one would hear whooshing sound in the ears.

What makes it more frightening is that a person can feel a presence in the room with them, that they are not alone in the room. The feel of a presence would seem malevolent, sitting on one’s chest and touching body parts. And often, this is in an invasive or inappropriate manner.

Sleep paralysis is sometimes referred to as the “Old Hag Syndrome”. It’s because the presence that one feels during this episode may take on the form of an old haggard woman. Hence, the name of the syndrome was derived. A person may struggle to breathe while experiencing sleep paralysis. One can hear voices or whispering in their ears.

Then comes what seems to be a bewildering sensation- that of floating and being out of the body. These symptoms and the whole experience would seem out of the ordinary for most people. That’s why they are reluctant to talk about it. And if they would talk about it, they would often be dismissed by comments such as “You just had a nightmare”, or “You were just dreaming”.

You might have had suffer from such an experience at some points. Many people actually have, and you are not alone. You might even be thinking that you are heading to some sort of mental breakdown. But one ought not to let fear overcome them in such a circumstance. There has yet to be a final explanation to this phenomenon, and it is actually more common than what one thinks.

Sleep paralysis has been widely recognized by the medical profession, although it has to be determined what it really is, or what causes it. The subject is far too complex to discuss in details, however, there are various publications and websites which delve deeper into it. More detailed sources such as these can help those concerned understand sleep paralysis better, and it would make people become more aware.

It would be helpful to know about a condition or “troubling” phenomenon which besets a person. A better understanding can aid in relieving distress and fear, and would help a person cope better.

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