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 immobilised. 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’.
2. Key observations about Sleep paralysis
Research conducted by J. Allan Cheyne (Cheyne, 2001) 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 Causative factors of Sleep paralysis according to modern sciences
According to modern sciences the probable causative factors include:
- Life stressors
- Sleep deprivation
- Long-standing sleep disturbances in those who have been sexually abused
- Genetic link
3.3 What is the cure for Sleep paralysis according to modern sciences?
As neither the specific cause nor the explanation of the phenomenon is available all proposed treatment 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 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.
1. 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.
- Why does it happen more in young adults?
It is more likely to be found in young adults. The reason for this is that young adults have most of their life to go and hence have the maximum amount of give-and-take account yet to be completed. A negative give-and-take account with a ghost or ancestor in the subtle-regions of the Nether region (Bhuvarlok) or Hell (Pātāl) could well play out as an attack of sleep paralysis. Also since worldly desires are highest in young adults they become targets for ghosts to possess to fulfil their own desires.
Those in the lower and older age group are not of much use from a desire fulfilment point of view. The elderly have had completed majority of their give-and-take account in their lifetime and are mellowed with life’s trials and tribulations.
- Why does it happen generally while sleeping on one’s back? This is because when one is lying on either side, one of the two main channels of the Kunḍalinī spiritual energy system is active. When in supine position the Kundalini is least active. As the flow of energy is reduced, it is easier to immobilise the motor system of a person. The Kundalini system of energy is the spiritual energy flowing to the various systems and organs of the body and is vital to their functioning. It is for this reason that 70% of all cases of sleep paralysis happen when lying on the back.
It happens generally when going into a sleep state or coming out of it According to spiritual research only 10% of cases happen when one is falling asleep or coming out of sleep. In 90% cases it happens in sleep, hence the affected person is not aware of it or semi-aware of it. SSRF studied sleep patterns of some volunteers suffering from sleep paralysis. It was found that many of them appeared to be immobile or unconscious at night in sleep. On trying to wake them up, it was found that they were immobile. The ghosts (demons, devils, negative energies etc.) prefer to attack the person in deep sleep because then they have to use less energy to have their way with the person, for example to carry out their sexual desires.
- Duration Through spiritual research it was found that the average duration of an attack is anywhere between 3 minutes to 3 hours.
- How to ascertain the cause of Sleep paralysis? Only a person with an activated sixth sense can truly ascertain whether the cause of paralysis was physical, psychological or spiritual. However we can make an educated guess with our intellect that the paralytic attack is due to spiritual causes if all other physical/psychological causes have been ruled out.
We hope that an understanding of the root cause and remedies will reduce people’s fear and embarrassment and empower them to overcome the issue.
4.1 Types of sleep paralysis caused by ghosts
Spiritual research has shown that all sleep paralysis attacks that are caused due to ghosts, fall into three broad categories.
4.1.1 Pressing the body of the person:
In most cases, the person is lying on his back when this happens. Here the ghost presses the body of the person down. Due to this the person cannot move.
How is this pressure applied?
Ghosts consist of the Absolute Air Principle (Vāyutattva), whereas man is made of Absolute Earth (Pruthvī) and Water (Āpa) Principles. In terms of Cosmic Principles, the Absolute Air Principle is higher, i.e. more powerful than that of Earth and Water. Black energy, which is a function of their spiritual power is their primary weapon. Thus whether they apply pressure or tie in cords or create a mesh, basically it is the black energy of the ghost that acts like a poisonous gas capable of affecting the entire system of man. Depending on how the ghost intends to distress the person, it selects the organ and mode of affecting the person.
Other characteristics of this type of attack:
- The mental faculties of the person are intact, the person wants to move, but is unable to do so.
- This can last for a few moments to many hours at a stretch.
- People around the concerned person think they are asleep. There is no sign of any struggle on the person’s face or body as it is completely immobilised.
- The person undergoing the paralytic attack is fully conscious and can hear people around but cannot call out for help.
- Sometimes it is accompanied with a foul smell. The ghost does this through its black energy. The person perceives it through their sixth sense or extrasensory perception. Please read the article on sixth sense for a more detailed understanding on how we perceive smell, taste, vision, touch, hearing etc. through our subtle sense organs.
- The attack is generally carried out by a ghost from any region of Hell.
- The duration of the attack is decided by the ghost’s spiritual strength, how far it intends to cause distress to the person and the spiritual prowess of the affected person.
- In some instances people feel a vibration effect. The vibration is indicative of an abortive or incomplete process of immobilisation by the ghost.
- In those cases where the attack is ceased by shaking the person, the causative factor is either subtle-bodies of departed ancestors, place, premise or Kundalini
4.1.2 Tying the body of the person:
- Here higher ghosts like subtle-sorcerers (māntriks) from the fourth region of Hell use their supernatural powers (siddhis) to tie the person’s body with cords of their black energy. Here the person feels tied up. He is unable to move or speak.
- The person experiences all of the above except that there is no pressure.
4.1.3 Control of mind and intellect:
- In this case the person is completely incapacitated by ghosts (demons, devils, negative energies etc.). The body, mind and intellect are all paralysed by the ghost.
- Here higher-level ghosts (i.e. ghost with more spiritual strength) like sorcerers from the fourth region of Hell use their supernatural powers to create a net like sheath of black energy around the body of the person.
- This black energy sheath is created by performing subtle fire sacrifices in the Hell region. Once the sheath is placed around the person, his mind and intellect progressively become numb and the person is unable to move or speak.
5. Why do ghosts (demons, devils, negative energies etc.) do this?
There are 4 main reasons why they attack or possess a person.
- Seeking revenge
- Trying to satisfy their desires/hr/cravings
- To gain pleasure from troubling others
- To torment seekers of God
All these points have been explained in detail in the article on What is the objective of the ghosts’ (demons, devils, negative energies etc.) existence?
6. Spiritual remedies to come out of sleep paralysis
6.1 What can one do to come out of the paralysis?
Since the cause of the paralysis is spiritual, it can be alleviated by spiritual remedy alone.
- When one finds oneself in this situation, the first thing to do is to pray to God for help.
- Then start chanting the Name of God according to the religion of your birth along with frequent prayer till one is out of the paralytic attack.
- Once the paralytic attack is overcome, offer gratitude to God for having been rescued from the attack.
Remember by not panicking and doing spiritual practice of chanting the Name of God, we harness divine energy. This in turn increases our spiritual strength and our ability to combat the black energy and reduce the duration of the paralysis.
6.2 What can one do to ensure that it does not happen in future?
The central theme of preventive efforts is to acquire God’s protective sheath around oneself and to increase basic subtle Sattva component.
This can be achieved by:
- Beginning spiritual practice
- Regular chanting of Name of God according to the religion of your birth is a spiritual practice that is recommended by evolved spiritual guides (Saints) in the current era.
- Regular chanting of the Name of Lord Datta that acts as a spiritual medicine to protect against ancestral problems.
- Frequent sincere prayers for protection against ghosts (demons, devils, negative energies etc.) and spiritual growth.
- Spiritual healing remedies like applying Holy ash (Vibhūti), Holy water (Thirthā), lighting frankincense and incense sticks in the house, immersing feet in salt water, etc. Incense stick fragrances need to be of sandalwood, jasmine or pandanus (kewada) as they are more sāttvik.
6.3 What can others do to help the person?
In all cases where spiritual remedies are applied the principle is the same. We try to increase the basic subtle Sattva component and concurrently decrease Tama component.
The following is what we can do to produce this effect:
- Prayer for protection
- We can light incense sticks or frankincense near the person. It is preferable to use the fragrances of sandalwood, jasmine or kewada.
- Apply a pinch of Holy ash on the forehead of the affected person,
- Sprinkle Holy water on the affected person.
- Place a picture of a deity or symbol of God near the person,
- Play an audiotape or CD of chanting of the Name of God.
By shaking the person if one is aware that they are in this state. This helps them to come out of this state. The reason for this is that when a person has been immobilised, his peripheral subtle spiritual energy network is as if short-circuited. By shaking the person, all that we do is re-establish the circuit. As the energy starts flowing, movement is restored.
For preventive spiritual healing methods please refer to our section on spiritual healing
- Cheyne 2001 – The Ominous Numinous, Journal of Consciousness Studies, 8, No. 5–7, 2001
- J. A. Cheyne 2002 – Waterloo Unusual Sleep Experiences Questionnaire, A Technical Report, Department of Psychology University of Waterloo May 2002
- A webpage about Sleep Paralysis and Associated Hypnagogic and Hypnopompic Experiences
- Night of the Crusher: Science News Online Week of July 9, 2005; Vol. 168, No. 2 , p. 27
- In the dead of the night, reported by Barbara Rowlands in The Observer Sunday November 18, 2001