Humans have always been fascinated by the things that shake their minds and push them to reason about otherworldly existence. The presence of demons in the real world has always been controversial, and people have different beliefs and opinions. One actual problem has been medically fascinating yet very supernatural simultaneously. The medical condition of the sleep paralysis demon has been in the beliefs of many cultures around the world. People experience or feel some supernatural existence around them in the middle of the night. It generally happens amidst deep sleep, and it is a feeling where the person feels as if a demon of some sort is watching them. According to some real-life experiences, people experience the presence of ghosts, dead people, weird animal-like creatures, or even aliens around them with their eyes wide open. During such incidents, the person experiences some sleep paralysis and cannot scream or move even if their mind keeps trying.
The medical sciences have also acknowledged such a condition. According to experts in the field, a sleep paralysis demon is just the brain projecting a person’s nightmare into the real world because of sudden activities amidst deep sleep. There are multiple theories regarding what causes sleep paralysis, but the one most believed is that it is due to rapid eye movement as a person wakes up suddenly, and the brain does not cut off the dreaming. There is no particular age to experience such a thing, but it happens mostly with children in their early years.
Sleep paralysis and the Brazilian belief
Source: BBC | The Brazilian belief
Different cultures have folklores and stories associated with sleep paralysis demons, as people have been experiencing them worldwide. Brazilians have been the ones who even popularized folklore that is primarily based on sleep paralysis. As per the local stories and some famous articles, ‘Pisadeira’ is the tale of a vengeful woman who likes to tremble people in their sleep. There are multiple accounts of such a demon’s existence, with people describing it in many ways. The accounts of a famous Brazilian folklorist Luis Da Camara state that this demon looks like a crone that lurks around in the night with long fingernails. The demon tends to trample its victims’ chests, and people’s different experiences have promoted this folklore. “Pisadeira is the nightmare personified in an old man or woman. The nightmare, or the roman “Nocturna oppression,” has always been explained by the evil intervention of an incubus, a demon or a malevolent spirit. In many cultures, the nightmare – also known as the classic oneirodynia, was due to a giant or a dwarf, a terrible woman or man that, taking advantage that one is sleeping, would sit upon their stomach and pressure their thorax, disturbing one’s breathing,” says Luis Da Camara in his inscriptions and books.
Medical theories about the demon
Many theories try to explain the reason behind what causes sleep paralysis. The medical world has been fascinated by the otherworldly experiences of people worldwide. For one thing, being watched by a shadow or a demon would creep anyone out and scare them completely. There is a question about the sleep paralysis demon quite a lot; ‘Are they real?’ The definite answer to this question is a little tricky, but the overview suggests some shred of reality in this experience. The medical terms related to sleep paralysis are ‘hypnagogic hallucinations’ and ‘hypnopompic hallucinations. People don’t need to experience the demon’s existence when they suddenly wake up sometimes; they experience such a thing even while asleep but feel as if they are awake.
What happens during sleep paralysis?
Source: Sleep Cycle | What happens during sleep paralysis?
As far as these hallucinations go, they are connected to a person’s brain activity and sleep cycle. According to a report, around 1.7 to 40 per cent of people globally experience sleep paralysis at least once in their lifetime. These hallucinations occur in the Rapid Eye Movement cycle while you are asleep. Sleep paralysis typically occurs in people who are suffering from stress, PTSD, sleep deprivation, etc. and simultaneously, you are having a dream (or nightmare). During this sleep cycle, people experience their eyes opening, but the brain does not cut off the dreaming part and continues to play it as a part of partial consciousness. It is more like the brain trying to project your dreams into the real world so that you might see a demon on your ceiling, or at least the brain makes you see one. The reason why sleep paralysis occurs is that the brain tries to protect the body from sudden movements and blocks the signals to the body. Thus, the person experiences a state of paralysis even when all they want to do is scream or run away. Often these people ask themselves, ‘why does sleep paralysis happen?’
What causes sleep paralysis?
After understanding the part-genuineness of the sleep paralysis demon, another question arises: how to stop sleep paralysis from occurring? To understand how to prevent it, there is a need to understand why sleep paralysis happens. There are medical explanations regarding sleep paralysis in people experiencing some mental instability. Stress and lack of mental peace are agents to support such an experience, but it may happen even after a long alcoholic night or due to heartburn. In some cases, jet lag has also been a reason behind such hallucinations, along with sleep deprivation. Sleep paralysis typically occurs in people who suffer from narcolepsy. People aged 7 to 25 experience abnormalities in their sleep cycle and often go undiagnosed because of the rarity of this medical condition. It is also a primary cause of sleep paralysis since the person’s sleep cycle gets disturbed intrinsically.
How to stop sleep paralysis?
Nobody would want to wake up in the middle of the night only to find a creepy shadow sitting over them. Sleep paralysis is a common global issue that is not hard to fight. Many people ask about how to stop sleep paralysis, and there are very simple ways. The first thing anyone would need to do to fight such a demon is to manage their sleep cycle. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and promoting mental peace is crucial to stopping such hallucinations. If a person has just experienced one such hallucination, there will be a need for healthy reaffirmations, and they should try to talk to their brain that it was not real and that they are completely okay and sleeping. People around should refrain from discussing any supernatural stuff and help the other person stay calm. Sleeping on your back is also a common misstep taken by people. Snoring and sleep apnea are more probable in such cases, thus leading to sleep paralysis. Meditation and a healthy meal routine also help with sleep paralysis. In extreme cases, cognitive behavioural therapy has also been suggested by neurologists and experts to treat the issue.
More about the ‘demon’ in your mind
The medical explanation and cultural beliefs about a sleep paralysis demon are very different from one another. But both show how humans constantly strive to understand every common notion that seems out of the ordinary. Some journals and reports suggest how long does sleep paralysis last and the ways to stop it as well. If you are still wondering about ‘how to wake up from sleep paralysis’, then the simple answer is that you experience it for some time and either you wake up or go back to sleep. Dr Baland Jalal, a neuroscientist from Harvard University, suggests that a four-step method can be helpful in case a person has just experienced sleep paralysis. The approach is related to reaffirmation, meditation and calming the mind.
Suppressed muscle tone and signals being blocked by the brain prevent the body’s motion during sleep paralysis, and because of such experience, people wonder, ‘Is sleep paralysis dangerous’. Doctors and experts have spent a lot of time on this problem and studied why does sleep paralysis happen. In normal cases, sleep paralysis is a common problem and is nothing to be serious about. If a person suffers from brain-related issues or stress problems, then sleep paralysis may increase. In such cases, getting the problem diagnosed and getting it rightly treated is very important.
There have been lots of hoaxes and myths about the occurrences of demons at night, especially in Chinese, Brazilian, or Egyptian cultures. Even in the US, there are some supernatural beliefs about this medical condition, and it has also gained a lot of popularity. Jinn is famous Egyptian folklore which suggests the occurrence of a demon who can take any human, animal or inanimate form. Occurrences of Jinn during sleep paralysis have been a common belief globally, especially in Egypt. Such mythical notions have been put to an end by the medical advancements of the human species. We now know what causes sleep paralysis and how to get it under control. So, there is no need to be worried about the sleep paralysis demon and all those who experience it need to improve their sleep cycle and get a calmer mind.