Sleep Paralysis: Scientific Phenomenon or Supernatural Fright?


Have you ever woken up unable to move, feeling as if something was pressing you down into the bed? This alarming experience is called sleep paralysis. It is a condition in which you feel mentally awake, but unable to physically move your body. The feeling may last for a few seconds or up to a few minutes. It often occurs upon wakening; however, it is also known to occur when one is in the process of falling asleep. It can be accompanied with the physical feeling of pressure on the throat or chest and an inability to vocally express oneself. Some people report feeling or seeing a presence in the room, which many perceive to be otherworldly and ominous in nature.

Unusual Occurrences

According to medical experts at WebMD (2014), when we are sleeping our body shuts down in order to prevent us from physically acting out our dreams. At times when we are awakened during the dream cycles of our sleep, the physical body remains in shut down mode which creates the frightening sleep paralysis conditions. Essentially, it signals an issue with our bodies being slightly out of sync with our sleep cycles. During the Rapid Eye Movement (R.E.M.) cycle, which is when dreams occur, the body is placed in a relaxed mode that allows you to rest and prevents you from fully acting out your dreams. If you become conscious within the R.E.M. cycle, your body may remain in an immobilized state and your perceptions of reality can be peppered with altered-state illusions making it seem as though there is an ominous presence in the room. This is especially the case when we are in a state of extreme fright about not being able to move our bodies or vocally express our fear. It is not a being holding us down, but our own bodies preventing us from acting out our dreams. Sleep paralysis experiences usually only last a few seconds to a few minutes; however, it can feel as though it is much longer than that when you are in the midst of this type of episode.

Personal Experience

When I was in my teens, I recall experiencing this type of paralysis. It was extremely frightening to be incapable of moving my body or making a sound. I remember lying there, not knowing what was happening, just praying for it to pass. As panic bubbled up within, I attempted to calm my racing heart by slowing down my breathing and telling myself this would pass. My personal experience, while terrifying, only occurred once in my life, and it did not involve a perception of an ominous presence in the room.

During my experience with sleep paralysis, I did not sense a being in the room and I was able to talk myself through the experience until the sensors in my brain alerted my physical body to remove itself from dream mode. It is very frightening to experience sleep paralysis; however, I am glad to say it is an infrequent occurrence which may only occur once in someone’s lifetime, if at all. When it happens, though, it is an unforgettable experience.

Timing and Reasons

According to WebMD (2014), the most frequent occurrences are reported in the teen years; however, sleep paralysis can happen to people of all ages and it can occur with more frequency. There are many underlying reasons why it occurs, some of which may include sleeping on one’s back, stress, sleep schedule changes, and lack of sleep. If sleep paralysis is a habitual problem, I recommend talking with your doctor about your sleep patterns and conditions, as well as the stress levels in your life. There are many factors that affect our sleep, and if you are experiencing problems, it is best to speak to a specialist who can help you correct the issues.

Nothing to Fear

All in all, sleep paralysis has a scientific reason for occurring based on the natural functions of the human body. It is not an ominous being taking control over you. The fear factor runs high when this occurs, and in a dream-like state, this experience can quickly turn into a sort of waking nightmare in which the mind creates all kinds of scary reasons for its occurrence. For those who have experienced sleep paralysis, there are ways of minimizing the effects when you are in the midst of an episode. Knowledge is power in this case as it can help you to recognize the condition for what it is and ease the effects. For example, when you know this is a condition in which the mind awakens to consciousness before the body, you can work on calming yourself down through deep breaths and repeating to yourself, “Everything is alright, this will pass.”

Blessings to you and sweet dreams!


With much love and many blessings for all,
Karen T. Hluchan

Spirit Medium, Motivational Speaker, Reiki Master, Spiritual Artist, & Author of How Have You Loved?

Karen T. Hluchan is a spirit medium, motivational speaker, Reiki master, spiritual artist, and author of How Have You Loved? Through her mediumship practice, Healing Spirit with Love, she devotes her time to the healing of spirit on earth through her connection with heaven. Her passion for her calling is shared through the spirit readings, demonstrations, and workshops she provides, as well as through her writing, Reiki, and fine art spiritual paintings. All of her work is inspired by the divine light that is within us all. She has a great love of nature, people, and the planet, and she enjoys her connection in spirit, both here and in heaven.
Click here to learn more about Karen’s upcoming events.

Sources Cited

Robinson, MD, J. (2014, October 14). Sleep Paralysis. Retrieved from

How to Interpret Your Dreams – Part Two

Dream InterpretationLast week, in “How to Interpret Your Dreams – Part One,” I talked about working on remembering your dreams and recording the ones you have. This week, I will share with you a method for deciphering the messages within your dreams.

Are you ready to interpret your dream? If so, grab a pen and paper. Look at the symbols and objects in your dream. Take it one section at a time. For instance, say you are driving a car down the highway. Without thinking about it too much, write down the first thing you think of when you think of a car…for me, I think of a mode of transportation or something that gets me from A to B. Highway = the open road, or road trip for me. For you, a car or the highway may mean something completely different. There is no right or wrong answer. Just remember to use the word association exercise and try not to think too much about your answer. Whatever you think of first is what that symbol or object means to you. Do that for all objects within your dream, as well as all actions. For instance, were you driving toward a particular destination or person? Away from somewhere, someone or something?  Joy riding? Were you being chased? All of these factors are important.

Once you have compiled all of your associated words, take an overview of them. You should see a theme emerging that correlates to a situation that is currently occurring in your life. For instance, with the car dream, I may have a strong desire to free myself from responsibilities and obligations in order to travel on a new path…to hit the open road and experience a feeling of being free and looking forward to new adventures.

Keep an open mind. You may not be able to see the theme right away. However, it will come to you. It is important not to stress about it. It may even come to you in the form of an epiphany later in the day. Remember, practice will help you to develop your dream interpretation skills.

On a side note, whenever you see your deceased loved ones in your dreams, it is really them. Dreams give them a chance to let you know that they are around you because your daytime defenses are down. When you encounter a deceased loved one in your dreams, feel free to say hello. Just know, though, that you might wake yourself up in the process because you are interrupting the natural dream cycle. I did that so many times when I saw my Dad in my dreams and was so disappointed when I accidentally woke myself up. As with anything else, practice makes perfect. Dreams are tricky; too much interruption in the message and you wake yourself up.

Most of all, I hope you enjoy your journey into the world of your dreams. The messages are there for you and you can interpret them with an open mind and practice.


With Light and Love,
Karen T. Hluchan

Spirit Medium & Reiki Master