9 years later I remember what it was like to have severe sleep paralysis with visions of a "demon". (2023)

Someone important once said that once you find your demons, make peace with them. I did, in the truest sense of the word.

Most of you would have assumed that when I mentioned demons I was speaking in metaphors: negative thoughts, repressed feelings, and things that unconsciously impede our growth. NO. I'm talking about demons, like those ugly, disfigured creatures you see in pop culture. I've seen them at night, not in my nightmares, but near my closet or near my bed. Not once or twice, but several nights. But we are at peace now and that's how it happened.


9 years later I remember what it was like to have severe sleep paralysis with visions of a "demon". (1)

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Sleep Paralysis: The Agony of Daydreaming

9 years later I remember what it was like to have severe sleep paralysis with visions of a "demon". (2) photo credit: iStock

We are talking about sleep paralysis. The headline gave away, I know, but I kept the finer (read: chilling) details under wraps for far too long. The experience is so horrible, I can't wait for everyone to understand it. But for those who want it, I suggest you stick with it until the end, because after my first few encounters with the sleep paralysis demon, I always wished someone had warned me about this.

Sleep paralysis is this phase during the nightif you are more aware, aware of your surroundings and able to think logically, but the body is paralyzed (something that happens in REM sleep). At that point, a nightmare or some frightening development around you would make you want to move out.

One night, I waved my hand at the side of the bed as I was peacefully resting, but I suddenly felt another hand on it. Of course I wanted to retire, but I couldn't. When I regained control of my body I was flushed and scared and didn't want to sleep because what if it happened again.

9 years later I remember what it was like to have severe sleep paralysis with visions of a "demon". (3) photo credit: iStock

Those few seconds or minutes of helplessness are a lot like what sleep paralysis feels like. However, the episode I just mentioned was the least petrifying of my experiences.

My first severe sleep paralysis attack, worst ever

As a teenager, I wasn't always comfortable watching or listening to horror movies. The consequences would continue. But just as most cousin get-togethers require, we too hide under the covers to share scary stories. Scary times for me TBH. Also, I remember telling myself that I shouldn't survive such an experience (read people's paranormal experiences).

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The first one was the worst because I had no idea what was going on in the Effing universe. I was lying in bed in my dorm and just as I was about to fall asleep I felt like I was being sucked in. As something was pulling me down, I also felt a huge weight on me. I tried calling my friend whose bed was next to mine. I could not.

9 years later I remember what it was like to have severe sleep paralysis with visions of a "demon". (4) Photo credits: iStock,

By this time my eyes were wide open and I could see the back of the blanket on my face. I didn't want to spend my life guessing what/who was going to crush me that night, so I desperately tried to remove the covers to find out. I failed; I was completely tense.

After the ordeal was over, I broke down in tears and told my boyfriend about my alleged paranormal encounter (which I suspected at the time). I was sorely hurt for days because I couldn't google it or read relatable stories (other boarding school mates would sympathize).

What the internet is saying about sleep paralysis

Speaking of Google, the internet has all sorts of explanations for sleep paralysis – scientific, spiritual and, of course, supernatural. I remember driving past a couple of them but I got nervous so I stopped. Recently, it's not as mysterious as it used to be and there are plausible explanations rooted in research.

Over time you seem to develop your own understanding of this. And later I also consulted a specialist who suggested changing my sleep schedule.

9 years later I remember what it was like to have severe sleep paralysis with visions of a "demon". (5) photo credit: iStock

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I had episodes of sleep paralysis a few more times over the next few years, but they were less frightening. Probably because, unlike nightmares, you're conscious enough to realize you're having one of those sleep paralysis attacks again, and that makes it a little more bearable. But during each episode, I could feel a presence. He came and sat on me or sometimes stood next to me. Unlike dreams, where you experience a bizarre recreation of your surroundings, here you see things exactly as they are. So basically you're hallucinating.

Folklore from around the world makes you believe in vengeful spirits, a cursed woman, a woman with long nails, etc. I'm not so sure about that, but what I'm sure of is what I saw that night.

The Date - Finally Meeting My Sleep Paralysis Demon

9 years later I remember what it was like to have severe sleep paralysis with visions of a "demon". (6) photo credit: iStock

College was demanding. during a phaseMy anxiety levels were at their peak and the sleep cycle was on the rocksdue to upcoming missions. Then I was gripped by unprecedented terror.

"What is this for a new hell", I thought to myself. I was having a bout of sleep paralysis that I could have survived until an elusive figure appeared. Large translucent drops the color of water (again, indescribable) hovered all over my room, eventually coalescing to form a distorted silhouette.

They don't show that in the movies. It had no face, arms, body (or anything) like ours. To my own shock, I wasn't as scared as I should have been. It was disturbingly real, as the entire decor of the room had been recreated during the sleep paralysis episode and not a speck of dust had moved. But then again, it was probably the awareness of what was going on and knowing more about it that got me through that night.

It's also quite bizarre that I don't have to struggle to wake up to finish everything. Maybe because I never slept; I was wide awake before and after.


9 years later I remember what it was like to have severe sleep paralysis with visions of a "demon". (7) photo credit: iStock

How did my sleep paralysis episodes stop?

It's been a year or two since I last experienced sleep paralysis. Have I changed something in my lifestyle? Some, as suggested by an expert. Now I make sure I sleep until 2am otherwise I have troubled sleep full of crazy dreams. I was also advised not to worry too much about things, although I could have opted to skip this one.

Since I don't read about it much online, I don't know if other people have felt it, but I often feel warned of an impending attack. Especially when I'm seconds away from falling asleep. Discomfort sets in. So I tried not to sleep at that specific spot to avoid the scare, but most of the time I failed.

Ever since I met my sleep paralysis demon, I stopped fearing him. I also sometimes wonder if it's really the curse we make of it? Of course, this thinking is only based on my own experience and not that of others who might think differently. For me, the supernatural experience of total control over my thoughts and lucid dreams feels like an escape I didn't sign up for. Now that's a hot shot!

9 years later I remember what it was like to have severe sleep paralysis with visions of a "demon". (8) photo credit: iStock

So guys, chances are you remember this article if you suffer from sleep paralysis at some point in your life. And if you think of me (read that again - if you face your demons, if you think of me), you know this too shall pass.

Note: Some of the content in this article may not be factually accurate as it is based on my personal experience and interpretation of my episodes. Medical journals have it better (science-based reading)Explanation of hallucinations and sleep disturbances associated with sleep paralysis. If you experience something similar, contact an expert.

(Video) Why So Many People Get Sleep Paralysis

Research credit: Sleep Medicine Reviews, ScienceDirect

Main Image Credit: Dharma Productions and Dream Merchants Enterprise (as Dream Merchants) Varma Corporation

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