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Sleep paralysis causes – academic and spiritual research

Maya 16 July 2012 14,776 views 24 Comments

In her book Sleep Paralysis: Night-mares, Nocebos and the Mind-Body Connection, Shelley Adler acknowledges that alternate explanations like SSRF’s are needed to understand sleep paralysis causes


sleep-paralysis-causes-bookMost of us study science when we go to school. Charts, graphs, weights and measures are all used to help us understand and relate to the world around us. We learn that what is testable and verifiable by our five senses, mind and intellect is real and proper science. Even at higher levels of academia, the methods of research used have been far removed from Spirituality or spiritual science.

However in recent years government and academic research facilities have begun exploring the impact of Spirituality and the spiritual dimension on the quality of life and their purpose in our life. One illustrative example of that is a publication by Rutgers University’s Studies in Medical Anthropology department (New Jersey, USA), Sleep Paralysis: Night-mares, Nocebos and the Mind-Body Connection by Shelley R. Adler, in which she has cited and used images obtained from Spiritual Science Research Foundation’s subtle-knowledge department about the causes of sleep paralysis.

The book acknowledges the limitations of modern scientific and academic research to sleep paralysis causes, saying, “the night-mare cannot be categorized using conventional mechanistic models. This challenge reveals yet another reason the experience has long resisted scientific study; it defies traditional categories and the division of academic disciplines. Because the night-mare does not respect the boundaries we have set—between science and religion or body and mind—our thinking must also defy conventional, reductionist models in order to understand the experience as fully as possible” (Adler, 136).

Such a conclusion has proven invaluable to readers, earning a 5-star rating on Amazon.com for her willingness to acknowledge and explore alternate explanations and models. Citing David Hufford’s 1982 book The Terror That Comes in the Night (Adler, p. 82), Adler notes that what is often debunked as myth and superstition is often later proven as true by scientific inquiry.


The above image was cited in Dr. Adler's book (p. 79) and was captioned: “4.1 Depiction of Immobilization (sic) during Sleep Paralysis. This illustration was provided by the Spiritual Science Research Foundation (SSRF), a nonprofit organization (sic) that, has conducted spiritual research since 1986. A representative of SSRF explained that the organization's intention is 'to demystify the spiritual realm and provide research that will help humanity to effectively alleviate difficulties in life and progress spiritually in a very practical manner.' The text circumscribing the illustration is a Sanskrit (sic) mantra. The chants are 'a subtle protective border which does not allow negative energies to spread their black energy onto anyone who is looking at the drawing. The visual drawing of a negative energy also carries its associated energy. So we kindly suggest that those chants remain.'”

While the book does not offer a definitive explanation for sleep paralysis and nightmares, it does recognize the need to utilize other methods of research, including that of the Spiritual Science Research Foundation.

SSRF has already written about the differences between modern research and spiritual research. As the spiritual dimension is infinite, so too are the possibilities for academic and modern scientific research to draw from it and find lasting solutions for a better quality of life.

By: Maya Jairam

Spiritual Science Research Foundation


Read more:


Kindly note that questions of personal nature will not be responded to on this page. If you have a personal query or doubt about spiritual science or implementation of its principles, we recommend contacting SSRF via the 'Ask a question' facility.


  • Ryan Newell said:

    This I find very interesting, with my research studies, especially since as a kid I used to have a lot of sleep paralysis events. I can agree, that spirituality must have some sense of involvement, because since I started spiritual practice I have had significantly less sleep paralysis.

  • Vernon Lam said:

    This is a great article Maya! :-)

  • Carla said:

    I can only speak for myself, but I have been dealing with this since a young child. It’s my belief that what wakes me up out of a deep sleep is the hairs standing up on the back of my head caused from the demon seething in my face to wake me up. It’s then that it attacks me. It wakes me up first so that I know whats coming. It wasn’t until a few months ago that it happened four times in the same night, and I was so scared that I couldn’t get it off my mind the following morning, did some research, and for the first time ever, found a name for what had puzzled me all my life. I don’t know how old I was when it started, probably around 13yo. But now that I think of it, I was terrified of the dark as a child. The fear of looking at my closet was excruciating. I may not have been able to process and verbalize what was going on. And my memory is poor. I have had incidents in every home I have ever lived as an adult. I’ve had the covers pulled off of me. I’ve had my bed creak as the demon crawled up over me and punched my pillow so hard it came back up and slapped me in the face. So many incidents it would be impossible to recall. I have had a special insight into the spiritual realm since I was thirteen, when I literally saw a shadowy demon exit my window in my bedroom. The heat coming from my bedroom drew me to it. As every hair on my body stood up I saw this shadowy figure by my window. That is the only time I ever saw a demon and I’ll never forget it. When I am attacked, I can’t talk, I can’t scream, I can’t move. I can sense something so wicked that I cry out to Jesus, and when my voice comes, command it to leave in the name of Jesus. And it leaves. Every time. It’s demonic. There was a time in my life when my husband would be working, that I would sleep on the couch with the tv on so I wouldn’t be attacked. The episodes come and go randomly. So bizarre to know that other people experience this. And no matter each persons own perception of the truth about the attacks, I can only attest to my own.

  • R.E. Clark said:

    I’m not sure how something like this would be studied. It might be one of those things that we need to put on the list of questions to ask once we reach Heaven.

  • admin said:

    Dear R.E., please have a look around our site. In fact spiritual research does not have limitations of time and space and so it is able to study the intangible or subtle world with the help of advanced sixth sense. Perhaps we won’t need to wait till we reach heaven :)

  • Jack Grabon said:

    I have myself experienced this and have heard many others who have gone through this. The explanation for it is really simple. I find it ironic that this isn’t mainstream by now.

    There are other bodies subtler than the physical. When we sleep, we typically inhabit the astral body (emotional body, second body, psychosoma, etc.), temporarily leaving the physical body. Separate from the physical body, the astral body typically floats above it. You may have seen this depicted in pictures or movies.

    Sleep paralysis occurs when there is discoincidence, or when the astral body don’t come into full alignment with the physical body even though we may feel like we’re back in our bodies. The non-alignment may be millimeters or even imperceptible to us. If you think of a hand entering a glove, think of the difficulty picking up a fine object if the glove isn’t on all the way. Same principle here. As a result, we can’t fully utilize the physical body and it feels paralyzed. We can’t use our arms if our arms are not in our arms.

    I can assure you though, that this process is only temporary and you will soon come into coincidence or alignment with the physical body. Fear, panic or other such reactions are completely unnecessary when you understand the mechanics of this process and that it can be easily broken.

    Since we are close to being in alignment with the physical body (like the hand that’s partially in the glove), we can break sleep paralysis by making small movements, as if we were wiggling a finger to pull a glove on more tightly. Any small movement can be effective, such as wiggling a toe, swallowing, blinking, taking deep breaths, etc. Don’t worry if you can’t do these things right away. Simply persist for a few moments (without fear or panic) and that should take care of things as you come back into alignment.

  • sgroclkc said:

    Physiological symptoms of sleep paralysis are the same with those of syncope. Thus, sleep paralysis is caused by syncope. For experts in cardiovascular diseases, sleep paralysis or syncope is a common symptoms of cardiovascular disease【1】.For a long time, due to the ignorance of physiological knowledge of syncope , ischemie cerebrale , slow beat, fast beat and so on, psychological illusion in people’s sleep generated by such physical symptoms i.e. the nightmare really has puzzled the psychologists, therefore they put forward a wide range of wrong even absurd views on the nightmares, which both have no scientific basis, and could not be confirmed, even more were not self-consistent.For example, a medical expert Debacke drew the correct conclusion that the anxiety-dream resulted from ischemie cerebrale according to the physiological symptoms of the anxiety-dream of a boy of thirteen. Freud called such view was a “medical mythology” in the book of Dream Psychology. Most important,the experiment confirmed the idea.For example, a place in country, there is a “haunted” bed which makes people have sleep paralysis or syncope every night, and it is this fact that the pillow in the bed is too high will reduce cerebral blood flow.


  • Yiska said:

    Speaking from a personal experience I have come to read more into Sleep paralysis and my incident happened only a few years ago I was lying on my couch and dozed off for a brief moment only to awaken by something that felt like it was sitting on my chest and body and I could not move at all. It felt as if I couldn’t breathe to and I tried to sit up and to no avail I couldn’t speak either. First time this had ever happened to me. I started praying and continued for at least a half hour and then I was able to sit up and I literally ran from the room. Now there were stories the house was haunted by a man who used to live there and died a violent death. And a few weeks later my partner and I heard footsteps above our room and there was no one in the house, we went upstairs to look. In one of the bedrooms there was a secret door leading to another secret door which every time I opened it I felt this negative energy and heavy feeling so I would close the door immediately. I didn’t live there that long and I have not had any incidents like that again. However I sincerely believe the spiritual realm was real that day.

  • Steve said:

    It’s caused by that red eyed smokey demon as pictured. A thing like that attacked me everyday as a child for over a year many times at night trying to pull me out of my body. Ive talked to quite a few who saw same red eyed demon do that. It stopped being frequent when I told it i was not scared of them any more and i would keep fighting them every night and winning and that i would tell no one and pretend it was not happening. Then it went from many times a night to once or twice a month, I was not able to sleep at night and only in the day many years of my life which messed me up at school and everything. These things should have our rage against them anything to stop them should be done. Jesus name scares them when you hold to it like a sword. They are weak they wait till people are at there weakest and most vulnerable to attack that’s cause at our strongest people are much stronger then them.

  • adie said:

    I once had this sleep paralysis…it only happened one time. i had been having nightmares after i finished reading a book called “the manor” (it is an avon book!& of course i still have it :) about Jewish families….when i was finished with the book one evening as i lay there feeling spiritual, i drew a picture of Jesus on a cross in my notebook and said you will come someday soon. that night the nightmares started. every night for over a month i was plagued with nightmares about good- bad people and was tormented my evil spirits which were not too happy about me thinking Jesus would come someday soon…these dreams made me so scared i had to sleep with my light on.

    in one of the dreams, i was sitting in my then apartment, on the sofa watching the door and waiting, the door was open but only the storm door was closed. i was waiting with anticipation, scared and feeling faithful at the same time. a man arrived at my door and i stood, the door between us looking at him. he was a big lean stalky man with a bald head, not young, not old, he was dressed in “tan” looked like a working jumpsuit. he had a staff in hos right hand (big long stick) we looked at each other thru the door, and i calmly went out to battle with him, i almost won, then he threw me down…i was on my stomach and he put his staff on my lower back, and an intense pain came over that area, i felt my pelvis being crushed. i woke up with a feeling like my pelvis had been crushed and i checked myself out, but was hurting and ok…

    one morning as i awoke i could not move, i could only move my eyes…i observed my room and heard footsteps, like someone walking on a slick floor (i was in an all carpeted apartment) as i heard the footsteps walk away, i was able to move again…i feel this was a spiritual event, and i feared spirit possession. so i taught my little kids how to dial 911 and i thought i ought to contact someone but did not. just prayed every day. ironically during this monthly period my bible could not be found! eventually, the LAST bad dream i had was i was sitting in a room and there was another person sitting in there on a chair dressed in blue jeans and a white t-shirt, short brown hair and i felt safe as i glanced at this person….then i looked to my left and felt an evil presence coming and i immediately started calling out “michael!” i looked to the right the person sitting in the chair was gone and i began screaming “michael!” which i woke up out of my dream to realize i was screaming for the archangel michael. after that i had no more bad dreams of the demons messing with me. i strongly feel that was michael sitting in that chair protecting me. i later had a dream where i was walking with michael in the land where there were dead babies/ very small children. i asked him if my deceased babies were ok and he assured me they were, and we just walked side by side… months, years later i was in a book store and had a strong desire to look for the book of lost scriptures, i found it flipped thru it and came to a part that made my mouth drop. page 293, number 26 The Apocalypse of Paul.”Lost Scriptures” books that did not make it into the new testament, by Bart D. Ehrman.

    this event took place for around a month, every single night in about, after 1998. i did not find the book until after 2000.it was the last one in the bookstore, so i bought it. very glad i did. it was not until 10 years ago i became a bona-fide christian. before i believed in God,and always wondered about Jesus, now I know he is real, and it has nothing to do with this event! after that event i no doubt believed in michael the archangel.

  • admin said:

    Dear Adie, in case you experience sleep paralysis again, chanting the Name of God may also help.

  • Von said:

    I actually experienced sleep paralysis after I started doing spiritual practice according to this website. I was being attacked by a ghost and could not move and it felt like the ghost was holding my neck down. I started chanting in my sleep and right the pressure got off and the ghost yelled “help me” and then I woke up. Sleep paralysis is very real.

  • Rosamund said:

    I have trouble staying awake in the day I have been suffering from depression but have also encountered the presence of an angel 5 years ago. I am Christian but not practising. I want to strengthen my ability to stay awake and be proactive throughout the day light hours

  • admin said:

    Dear Rosamund, please do have a look at our recommended steps to start your spiritual journey. Spiritual practice has assisted many people in overcoming depression. Some spiritual healing remedies may also help.

  • Leiah said:

    Ever since I started my spiritual practice I have not had any sleep paralysis. I read the scientific reason for sleep paralysis, which simply says the muscles failed to awake before the brain awoke. I don’t buy this because we are able to move at night while sleeping. I know that an evil entity was there and if you asked everyone else who had this experience there is always another presence besides the person.

    My focus on spiritual practice has definitely helped.

    I pray to Jesus and do daily spiritual meditations. I’m more clear of my path in life than ever before. It almost seems like I’m just not fun to mess with anymore to the evil entities. I’m not mindlessly drifting through life like before.

  • admin said:

    Gratitude for sharing your experience with us, Leiah

  • eNaturals said:

    Thanks for this.I don’t really have much ideas about sleep paralysis and you just got it covered here. For a little help about getting a less stressful sleep, i recommend chakra energy healing as well.

  • Parshuram Chavan said:

    Respected Team good evening. As per our above discussion personally I am experienced, but is this sleep paralysis, I don’t know. When I sleep, especially late at night, I hear a vibrating sound in the head for approx. 2 min, I can’t speak but I can shout a little, I can’t move my body, but I am aware about everything that is going on. This has been going on for approximately a month now. Please help. Thanks and warm regards, Parshuram

  • admin said:

    Dear Parshuram, have you had a chance to read our article on sleep paralysis? It lists what people commonly experience. If you have more questions about how to overcome sleep paralysis, you can post them via our Login facility.

  • sgroclkc said:

    There are two main types of scary phenomenona in sleep (nightmare and sleep paralysis) that are caused by two main scary symptoms of cardiovascular disease {palpitation and fainting (syncope)}.

  • sgroclkc said:

    As Germany’s well-known psychologist William Wundt’s view of “ the most common causes of the dream are indigestion, heart pulsation(palpitations or flustered),difficulity in breathing, as well as such symptoms.” For instance, students dreaming the examination before the pre-examination, is caused by the things about examination. The sense of urgent urination would give rise to the dream of looking for the toilet. In a cold night, thin quilt would cause one to dream the clothes are socked by water and thus make him/her feel cold. When palpitations occurs, people will have two most common feelings: one is tachycardia cause a feeling of seeming to be chasing ; the other is bradycardia or premature beat cause the feeling of heart suspension or heart sinking. Therefore, people in sleep accordingly will have the two most common nightmares : one is dream of being chased (occasionally hunting other people) ; the other is dream of flying in the air or dream of falling down. Persons who palpitation is easy to occur are easy to have nightmare, drugs can cause nightmare because drugs can cause palpitation. Females are easier to have nightmare than males, because palpitation is easier occur to females than to males. Women have a huge amount of nightmares during pregnancy because women experience more palpitations in pregnancy. Physical factors that contribute to bad dreams include fever as also sleep because fever causes an increase in the heart rate. If transient cerebral ischemia or fainting occuring during the day may result in some very terrible dizziness, palpitations, feelings of chest pressure, dim vision, tinnitus and a variety of neurological symptoms. As a result, all the people who are prone to cerebral ischemia or fainting frail corporeity, excessive fear, taking the quinidine which may lead to low blood pressure, as well as a excessive high pillow ors, error in sleeping style which may lead to the aggrieved neck, pressed blood stream. when they sleep in deep night, they will have the extraordinary corresponding horrible dreams, in the dreams, they do some kind of terrible Belial pressuring them or being hunted down, but they can not cry out or escape, which is known as sleep paralysis. .For a long time, due to the ignorance of physiological knowledge of syncope , ischemie cerebrale , slow beat, fast beat and so on, psychological illusion in people’s sleep generated by such physical symptoms i.e. the nightmare really has puzzled the psychologists, therefore they put forward a wide range of wrong even absurd views onthe nightmares, which both have no scientific basis, and could not be confirmed, even more were not self-consistent. For example, a medical expert Debacke drew the correct conclusion that the anxiety-dream resulted from ischemie cerebrale according to the physiological symptoms of the anxiety-dream of a boy of thirteen. Freud called such view was a ” medical mythology” in the book of Dream Psychology. Most important,the experiment confirmed the idea. For example, a place in country , there is a “haunted” bed which makes people have sleep paralysis or syncope every night, and it is this fact that the pillow in the bed is too high will reduce cerebral blood flow. Another example, sleeping pills are the treatment of nightmare of being chased of neurasthenia, due to the nightmare of being chased of such patients is caused by tachycardia, and sleeping pills can lead to slower heartbeat, moreover slower heartbeat sometimes leads to sleep paralysis or fainting for people of low blood pressure. Therefore, treating a nightmare with sleeping pills at times is not only invalid, but also it will instead increase the patient’s state of the disease.

  • admin said:

    Dear sgroclkc, thank you for sharing your views in more detail. As a matter of fact, there are causes of sleep paralysis that are unknown to modern science and psychologists.

  • Frani said:

    I have Sleep Paralysis along with hallucinations and have had this since I was very young. I think the bottom line is due to tremendous stress, extreme anxiety.

    The Mind is a wonder in it’s entire and can play tricks on you when your very mentally tired. In my case, the usual position is alpine, or laying on your back, but has happened in any position.

    I also hallucinate, see things, feel things, things touching me. Also a buzzing noise, vibration all over my body, tingly like, and unable to speak, move, much less even open my eyes and barely breathing. I have been told it lack of oxygen that causes the hallucinations but I beg to differ on that but possible.

    For me it is too Real. At times I will go straight into another episode if I do not pull myself out of the occurence. Terrified and gasping for air, and the creatures or sights leaves one uneasy to go back to sleep.

    Long ago, it was passed down to my family since my Grandmother and Mother suffered as well with these attacks. It was said that that was the very reason people were embalmed as grave thieves would find people had awakened in their graves and tried to claw their way out of their caskets. My Mother was carried to the morgue during one of the episodes, mistaken for dead.

    Passed down from the Ancient Generation was the belief that demons could enter into your body and take over. Embalming people became a widespread thing as most thought that either a demon entered the body or Vampirsim. These are legions passed on to myself, however, the Bible mentions Sucubus and Incubus that are Spiritual Demons that attack people and some assume while have these episodes, being rather exploit in a sexual nature. Strangely enough I have had such an encounter.

    Some call it the Nocturnal Hag syndrome. Some say it is not dangerous but I beg to differ for it would seem that with many encounters, a person could actually die from fear itself if not a heart attack.

    Non the less, I have them, write about it in novels and while I do believe that we encounter another dimension, rather than it being all in our heads and harmless. It certainly is a Spiritual and Physical thing happening. Anything is possible.

    I have been to sleep clinics and diagnosed with it as well as Narcalepsy and they witness the activity and my terror and monitored the process with EEG and so forth.

    It is a bizarre phenomenon. Thank you for listening.

  • admin said:

    Dear Frani, much gratitude for sharing your experiences so openly. Have you read our article on sleep paralysis?

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