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 One

DreamingThere are many books out there about dream interpretation, such as dream dictionaries, that try to help you to determine what your dreams are about. The problem with those dictionaries is that the definitions for the symbols and objects within the book may not ring true for you. The most effective way to interpret your dreams is to do it yourself, because only you know what the symbols mean to you.

There are many theories about what dreams really are…such as random images brought forth from our subconscious, etc. To me, dreams are an interesting phenomenon brought forth from our higher self, as well as from your Heavenly support team of deceased loved ones, the Angels, God, etc. Dreams utilize the myriad of images, feelings, and thoughts within our databank of memories to create story lines that are played out while we sleep. These seemingly random visions can be interpreted with an open mind and lots of practice, practice, practice.

Some of you may be thinking, “but I don’t dream.” Science has proven that we all dream several times per sleep session during the R.E.M cycle (see for the scientific take on dreams). The reason we don’t remember them may have to do with when we wake up in our sleep cycles (see the previous link for information about dream cycles). However, I have found that if I make a conscious effort to remember them, I do remember at least one upon waking. In doing so, I am telling my body to wake up during the R.E.M. cycle. Before I go to sleep, I tell myself that I would like to remember my dreams upon waking. Don’t worry if it doesn’t happen right away, keep trying and you will succeed. You can also ask your Angels for help. They would be glad to assist you.

In preparation for my dream remembrance, I keep a notebook and a pen, my iPad or a voice recorder by my bedside. Having a readily available source for recording your dreams is important. Once you get up and start your day, the details of your dream may begin to fade fast. If you record it as soon as you wake up, you will be able to capture more detail.

When recording your dream, especially when you are writing it down, do not worry about grammar or spelling, just write down everything you can recall as quickly as possible. Think of it like James Joyce’s stream of consciousness…write it down however it comes to you with as much detail as possible.

The next action you take is to set it aside. Do not try to interpret your dream right away! Set it aside and forget all about it for a few hours or a day. When you are ready to pick it up again for interpretation, it is important for you to have an open mind because you are going to use word association to decipher your message.

Throughout this week, work on actively trying to remember your dreams. When you do, record them. Next week, I will be sharing with you methods for deciphering the messages that your dreams are conveying. Until then, happy dreaming!


With Light and Love, Karen T. Hluchan

Spirit Medium & Reiki Master