Sleep Paralysis, Spiritual or not?

Sleep Paralysis…is it’s cause a demonic one or not? Whats your thoughts?

Although it is a terrifying experience, I believe it’s usually entirely mundane. I’ve had semi-frequent bouts of it at times in my life, and I’ve never had any indication that it was demonic in nature, just very scary.

Peace and God bless!

Yes but if something is frightening then it’s root cause is never one that comes from Christ, agreed?

Several people say they feel a presence in the room and like someone sitting on their chest when it’s happening. I do remember reading the early fathers saying that Satan comes into peoples dreams and the soul often confronts him with prayer there.

I’ve had it happen me once years ago prior to my Christianity.

Depends, it can be and it can be entirely normal.

A number of saints I believe experienced it and I myself have had it on occassion. The first time I ever had it I could have sworn I saw a figure in black, well something in black in my room anyone and was only relieved after crying out Jesus. I know it sounds stupid but its occurence has certainly declind since I slept with a bible next to my side and even more so since wearing the brown scapular. For me at least I believe it was demonic, though I admit since then its happened in a more mundane way.

I would point out though that sometimes would people think is demonic possession is simply a mental illness and vice-versa, its hard to be clear cut about these things.

Would you by any chance be able to point me in the direction of these fathers? I ask because I’ve had a few dreams where that happens, where I dreamt that I was confronted by the devil or a demon whilst praying. Its probably just a dream or my imagination but still I’d be interested to read what they had to say about it.

Nothing at all to do with demons!

If it’s nothing more than a sleep disorder then it still goes back to Original Sin and thus in a very indirect way to Satan, like all human suffering.

But is there a direct demonic influence? I’m not sure. As a teenager and young adult I experienced this about once a year until about three years ago I think. Every time but twice it was accompanied by what felt like an invisible, intensely evil presence, standing next to me or moving under the covers or sitting on the other side of the bed. Once there was no feeling of a presence at all, and another time (the last time) it was very much visible and active, like a demon from a medieval manuscript come to life, and was (seemingly) able to float my bed in the air, etc.

It’s no surprise at all that in the past or in other cultures experiences like these would be interpreted as demonic. It’s also no surprise that modern medicine would dismiss them as hallucinations. As a Christian who has considerable respect for science and a natural disposition towards skepticism, I’m undecided on the subject. I could see it being an entirely natural phenomenon resulting from the brain being neither awake nor asleep but sort of unasleep, or it could be demons taking advantage of a medical condition, terrorizing people when they are in a particularly vulnerable state and when they can get away with it without alerting materialists to their existence.

Sounds like it’s a safety feature of your brain to prevent you from acting out your dreams and sleepwalking.

Yes, except it is supposed to turn off when you wake up.

i didn’t read any of the last posts but i’m speaking from experience here. One time years ago i had the weirdest dream which really frightened me. I asked my psychologist (who is christian but not catholic) about it. He said I was probably so scared that i was just paraylized with fear. Can happen i guess.

oh and another thing too. you never remember all of your dreams. rarely does someone go to bed and remember what they dreamed in every REM cycle. So if you can’t remember having a bad dream or not if it was an hour or more after going to bed, you would have had a dream if you’re like most people.

That’s possible I suppose, but in that case it’s not sleep paralysis. In sleep paralysis you might try to move but it’s virtually impossible. Just opening your eyes takes effort, and with great force of will you might be able to move a finger, but for the most part you are totally stuck while feeling totally lucid. In my experience this happened just as much the time there was no evil “presence” felt at all.

All sleep paralysis is is when you walk up before your normal sleep paralysis (which prevents you from acting out your dreams) fails to disengage. It’s fairly uncommon, but nothing to be afraid of. The reason a lot of people hallucinate or ‘sense’ something is that they are still ‘half-dreaming’ at the time (called hypnogogia, i think). It’s really nothing to worry about though - mostly if it ever happens just either go back to sleep or wait until you can move again. Once you know what’s going on it won’t be scary anymore, just annoying…

Yes you can read all about that in the Philokalia Volume 1. :slight_smile:

Thanks :slight_smile: I’ll look that up now

Not from Christ, but not from demons, either. Thunder and earthquakes are frightening too, but aren’t demonic.

Peace and God bless!

Yeah but one persons reaction to thunder or an earthquake can be one of peace and another persons reaction to thunder or earthquakes can be one of anxiety and unease. Why the difference in reaction? because the ‘‘anxiety’’ doesnt come from Christ. In perfect love there is no fear.

Thunder is in it’s visible form. Dreams are in their invisible form and depending upon the souls health the devil can take hold of it and sometimes in physical ways but it still comes from him.

Dreams are of course the wandering of a mans subconcious of what he has experienced through his day but the devil can manipulate this and appear in the dream under the guise of an angel or a screaming demon.

Christ can also enter into dreams, saints and angels as we have seen from the Gospel.

Peace be with you also


I know my thoughts on this subject are all based on a presupposition, but I think it is a reasonable one. The presupposition is that the brain has some sort of connection with our soul and to some degree the wider spiritual realm. This connection is facilitated through the mind and the mind has a non-local affect on the brain. Now, if you metaphorically conceive of all this happening in the way that a radio works, by tuning into certain frequencies, you can get an idea of how the brain (as the receiver) depending on certain states it may be in, will better be able to perceive some subtler realms of existence. When a person is in the particular state of sleep describe by the medical community, the brain is in the state at which it is able to perceive the subtle spiritual realm. The body produces chemicals in order to keep the the body from moving (paralyzed) because the brain is not in its normal state which allows us to navigate and live in the material world. If the body was fully functioning, but our consciousness was active in the spiritual realm, you could see that there would be deleterious effects, like falling, walking into things, etc.

The fact that during sleep paralysis we are open to perceiving these subtler realms, it is no wonder that we could experience the presence of entities, evil or maybe not, but also possible that we experience nothing at all, except the experience of being paralyzed.

I would caution anyone against entertaining sleep paralysis of attempting to induce it. I think we put ourselves in the presence things we know little about and if we do encounter demonic beings during this state, we are in a sense on their turf and don’t have the veil of the material world, that may act as a barrier of sorts. The positive that can be taken away from the whole experience is that it should convince us, all people Christian and non, that a spiritual, or at least non-corporeal, existence is true and there is a real battle, both physical and spiritual, between good and evil.

As practical advice for dealing with the problem, I’ve heard from multiple sources that calling on the name of Jesus, putting your love and faith in Him, and “getting right with God”, will cause the evil presences to diminish. It may not stop the incidence of sleep paralysis episodes, which are kind of a natural phenomena of the body, but the evil will have been vanquished.

I have had one case of “sleep paralysis” in my life and it was a day or two after I did a house cleansing,after the 3 very loud and hard thuds on my door at 2am with nobody there and after the darting shadows out of my peripheral vision in my house,There is a reason you want to scream(but can’t).There’s a reason you feel that there’s evil involved-because there is.I am not saying there is not a valid medical condition that can cause some cases of sleep paralysis-but mine was not.It was demonic attack and it didn’t stop there. if you look it up on Wikipedia, the article has an illustration of a woman in bed with a demon sitting on her chest.I almost fell off my chair when I saw it. It goes on to say that back in the day they believed sleep paralysis to be demonic attack. My opinion is this: if it happens all the time it is probably a medical reason. If it only happens once or infrequently-you are being visited by a demon.Trust those “feelings” you get-you feel that way for a reason.If you feel something evil around you-there is evil around you.

Why would you come to a forum for opinions when there is some good research on the subject? Do you value random thoughts about something more than a considered study of a phenomenon, even if incomplete? And the “demon” part of it reminds me of stereotypical savages dancing around an idol, in fear of thunder, an eclipse, earthquakes or the local volcano.

I experienced sleep paralysis when I was young. I didn’t know such a thing existed, and it was terrifying to lie there awake and not be able to move a pinky. I thought I was a goner. Later, I knew better and could think, “Oh, there it is again.” Interestingly, mind happened when I was falling asleep thinking of the grandeur of God. that was incidental. It is just a psychophysiological phenomenon, and way more common than one might think.

For me by far the worst part about it was, that like other things that happen to a lot of people, you find out about the commonality of it after the fact. There are a number of such experiences that it would be at least reassuring to know about so that the panic of ignorance has less sway.

As for Thales advice, above, it is true that what you focus on tends to be your experience, so since you are a person of faith that would work, just as thinking a demon is attacking you would convince your impressionable mind that that is what’s going on.

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