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Why do people commonly confuse Sleep Paralysis with ghosts or alien abduction?

“In some cases, when hypnogogic hallucinations are present, people feel that someone is in the room with them, some experience the feeling that someone or something is sitting on their chest and they feel impending death and suffocation. That has been called the “Hag Phenomena” and has been happening to people over the centuries. These things cause people much anxiety and terror, but there is no physical harm.”
http://www.stanford.edu/~dement/paralysis.html
I have suffered from Sleep Paralysis since the age of twelve which is mainly caused by hyper-anxiety OR eating spicy meals just before going to sleep.
ashmarie – (below) YOU ARE RIGHT!

For years this condition made my heart pound like crazy and each time I had to “will” myself awake.

It has helped to learn what was actually happening yet it is still a lousy experience.
– easiest “cure” –

For me is watch what I eat before sleeping. Also, if it happens (rare as I grow older), I get up and drink a little milk or eat a slice of cheese to calm stomach acid activity then I sleep like a baby.
inwardbo (below)

When I was younger I could see a shadowy figure just within my peripheral vision yet I could not even call for help. So I would wiggle my extremities to “shake lose”. I sometimes thought that Satan was creeping toward me and was scared ro death (as a kid).
– shake loose – (above)

22 Comments

  • I don’t know anything about that condition and I don’t know anything about aliens (if they are real or not), but people who were supposedly abducted seem to all describe the same kind of “alien.” I don’t know if that condition can cause everyone to hallucinate and see the same thing.

  • lol I know exactly what you are talking about its when your in the REM stage of sleep, it only lasts about 9 seconds but it can be the freakiest thing ever. I used to be told when I was young that it was a witch riding your back because you were bad…so i wouldn’t sleep on my back. LOL It doesn’t have to do with what you eat, it will happen if you wake up during your REM stage… just make sure your actually tired when u go to bed

  • That happens to me sometimes. It is very freaky. The “scariest” ones happen when I’m napping during the middle of the day. Once I thought I saw a shadowy male figure standing over me, and it felt like he was literally, molesting me. It was the oddest experience I’ve ever had. I woke up screaming, and my heart was beating like I just ran a marathon. Another time I was half awake and I moaned very quietly, but it sounded and felt like someone was moaning in my ear, I could feel their breath on my face, I woke up screaming that time too. Fortunately for me I’m a skeptic an knew exactly what they were, but for someone less skeptical than me, I can understand how they might think it is real.

    I’ve also had experiences where I’m “willing” myself to wake up. My episodes only seem to happen when I’m napping in the middle of the day, this is also when I have the most vivid dreams.

  • I’ve had it since I was 12 as well. I never mistook it for anything supernatural or paranormal, however. I didn’t realize what it was until I was 19.

    I don’t know, I guess if you believe in ridiculous explanations for natural phenomena you might be predisposed to assume it’s an alien or ghost (in the case of a visible figure).

  • Sleep paralysis happens to me sometimes. I feel like someone is standing over me and I can just open my eyes to see that no one is there but I can’t wake up. It is pretty scary. As to why people say it is aliens I think poeple do that because it is more exciting to say that than ” oh It was just sleep paralysis.” Some people want aliens to exsist and sometimes I think they just like the reaction they get from others when saying they have been abducted. Makes life more exciting.

  • that happened to me quite a few times…but I grew up in a haunted house. It’s also referred to as a witch riding you…that is what my grandmother referred to it as…when I would sleep it was day time in my dream and I was literally being pulled off the bed..

    the other time; I fell asleep on the living room floor (I don’t believe this to be hag phenomena) and I heard foot steps in the hallway; sounded just like my grandfather’s who was blind and walked heavily. I was 10 at the time, I felt I couldn’t move, I was half-awake; even heard myself talking but couldn’t move and the only way to get out of that I would wiggle my toes and my fingers and eventually be set free.

    The other time, was after I had my 1st son; his father died; was staying at my mom’s house.

    I’m not saying, there are times, that I did have sleep paralysis but other times; especially when I was younger it was too f-ed up..

    people say you can’t feel pain in dreams but I beg to differ; I had dreamt that I was falling off of a building and woke up on the floor…
    times where I have been stabbed especially on the side and I woke up with my side aching.

  • I’ve experienced sleep paralysis before, but it didn’t involve the feeling that someone or something was in the room with me or that anything was sitting on my chest. I’ve just sometimes been semi-conscious and unable to move. It takes a great deal of concentration to force myself out of it.

  • well………….

    based on what I know…

    you can conquer these problems without medical interventions of any kind….

    the next chance you get …

    call up any of the escort services conveniently listed in the phone book or on line —there are many…

    when your ready to retire just have…

    your lady of the evening sit on your face…

    works every time …no more fear ever

  • I think the supernatural has always been used to explain things that were once unexplainable. It’s a cultural tradition to believe something other than science.

  • I use to do this. Then as I grew up, even whilst a christian, I realised that it made more sense if it was just something with my body and not evil spirits. I actually figured out myself that it had something to do with being to anxious or being over tired within me. That something within me felt unsettled in life.

    I use to think demons were in the room, but never thought of them sitting on my chest untill after I spoke with someone at church and got told something about that.

    EDIT
    @ ZER0
    Yeah thats what it is like for me now. Just concentrate hard and ‘snap’ the body back into action.

  • I would guess because if you don’t know what it is when you experience it, it is easy to make a leap from “That was terrifying and I don’t know what it was” to “It must have been a ghost!”

    I do believe in ghosts and have experienced a couple of things I find difficult if not impossible to explain, but I’ve also experienced sleep paralysis and it was nothing like the same sensation. But then, I hear it’s usually terrifying, whereas for me it wasn’t.

  • Ignorance and superstition. I tried to explain to a friend’s mother one time that what she was experiencing was sleep paralysis and it was like I was talking to someone from the dark ages.

    She had a kitchen full of idiots spellbound by her tales of “demons holding her down when she first woke up”. She couldn’t see them but she couldn’t move and was certain “god was testing her”. And after “calling out to the lord for minutes ” the demons finally released her.

  • That’s happened to me a few times, and it’s scary as hell! It takes a while to shake it off.

    *Why the thumbs down?? Sleep paralysis is then the brain is still in REM sleep, but the rest of you is awake. It’s freaky, and I don’t like it when it happens. Makes me feel like I’m riding the crazy train. Sorry if that isn’t good enough for some people.

    **Thanks, when it happens to me I can’t move, but I an hear people talking all around me. It sucks! I’ll try that watching what I eat thing!

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