Everything You Could Ever Want To Know About SLEEP PARALYSIS

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In this article I will replace every term associated with 'Astral' with 'nonphysical Reality, abbreviated to NPR or NP.

A little Introduction

First off I will tackle Sleep Paralysis (SP) also known as Recurrent Isolated Sleep Paralysis (RISP) from its physical reality side rather than its NPR side. Both are intertwined at equal degree, but the sensations encountered are primarily physical in nature being interpreted by your NPR sensibilities. Put another way; it is a dual-consciousness state. The sensations felt and in turn manifested through NP interpretation can be very overwhelming. The function of this little article is to help you link those sensations to normal functions of the body and hopefully dissipate the fear commonly encountered. I have written about SP several times and therefore researched it for many years and will pull form those writings in order to construct this treatise with objective reasoning and available scientific information. I have also experienced it for a lot longer so can also assess the phenomena subjectively due to many years of experimentation.  

The cultural history of SP

SP comes under several names in modern western culture such as; Second State, Phase State and Vibrational or Vibratory state to name but a few. However our modern terms have nothing on the abundance of descriptions given to it by other cultures throughout history. The term 'nightmare' for instance, now used to describe a bad dream or unpleasant situation stems from an old English term of Germanic origin 'maere' meaning 'Goblin' or 'Incubus'. It wasn't until the 1300s that it appeared as 'nigt-mare', as a roughly shortened version of the descriptive 'the mare who comes in the night'. Old English folk-law also used the term 'The Old Hag" and the process of this as being 'Hag Ridden'. It is thought that the Salem witch trials of 1692 that resulted in 19 executions and 150 accusations may have been fueled by locals reporting SP.

The perceived presence that often accompanies SP has been given many names and is often associated with the beliefs of the culture. In Turkey SP is called Karabasan, which means "dark presser or assailant" and the presence referred to as a Djinn, a nighttime demon of Islamic faith that can be banished by reciting certain lines of the Qur'an.  Pakistan culture calls it Bakhtak or the IfritIn and is associated with black magic performed by enemies or jealous people. In Thai folk-law it is the Phi Am. The people of New Guinea refer to it a Suk Ninmyo, believed to originate from sacred trees that requires human essence to sustain its life yet is not thought of as evil in nature. In Hungarian folk culture SP is called Lidércnyomás and the presence is attributed to several entities such as faeries, Wraiths and witches. One is called Ördögszeretö, which means 'Demon Lover'.

Other cultures describe the crushing or pressing down sensation. In Japan SP is called Kanishibari, which literally means 'Bound or fastened in metal'. In Mongolian culture it is referred to by the verb-phrase Khar Derakh, meaning, "to be pressed by the Black" or "when the Dark presses". In Vietnam it is called ma dè meaning 'held down by a Ghost" or bóng dè meaning "held down by a shadow". In Bangladeshi it is referred to as boba meaning "Speechless". In Arabic culture SP is called Kaboos, which means "pressers", or Ja-thoom, meaning "what sits heavily on someone". These examples are a relatively small selection of many more cross cultural references. There are probably names for SP and their associated sensations for every culture throughout human history that have been lost.

So what is Sleep Paralysis?

Many people associate SP with being a necessity for experiencing NPMR. This is a fallacy. True, it is a direct route into the altered state of consciousness that IS 'nonphysical', but far too often it is lingered and pondered upon much to the distraction of the uninitiated. It can actually be said that SP is not meant to be experienced. If it were, there wouldn't be a plethora of anesthetic mechanisms naturally put in place that cause us not to experience it. Usually SP is an unconscious process that happens when we enter REM sleep that inhibits us from acting out our non-physical incursions. It is a natural physical anesthetic. The medical term for this process is REM atonia (atonia meaning a lack of muscular tension). Being aware of this state that the body has put so much effort into concealing is what we experience as Sleep Paralysis. I will add here that sleepwalking isn't an REM state phenomenon but rather takes place during Slow Wave Sleep State.

Why do I get Sleep Paralysis?

To understand why a little better we need to briefly discuss the sleep stages. When we go to sleep we enter 4 stages of slow wave or Non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. Stage1, also called transitional sleep lasts only a few minutes until it evolves into our "baseline" stage 2 sleep. It is from this stage that next 3 stages develop.  Stage 2 takes up approximately 50 – 65% of our sleep time. Within 15 to 20 minutes we have slowly evolved into stage 3 then stage 4, which is marked by Delta Sleep that has the same brain wave pattern as a coma.  After these stages that last approximately 20 – 30 minutes We suddenly slip back into a very brief stage 2 (which is often marked by what can be called a micro-wake) and almost immediately change gears into a the very active brain wave pattern known as Paradoxical or REM sleep. Our heart rate and respiration increases substantially and we lose our ability to use our skeletal muscles known as striated muscles.

Sleep Paralysis occurs when we have previously slept through our slow wave sleep stages and wake for a period before attempting sleep or during REM sleep without breaking brainwave pattern.  This is not always the case and it takes the right amount of slow wave sleep and conditions for SP to manifest.  SP usually follows after a period of wakefulness from slow wave sleep that is marked by Sleep Inertia. Put another way, one will most likely experience SP after waking up from a dreamless nap that leaves one groggy, itchy eyed, likely to want to return to sleep and shivery; this is due to the drop in body temperature during the end of stage 4 sleep. Attempting to go to sleep forces one to instantly enter REM while still relatively conscious.

If SP is entered involuntarily it has usually gathered enough hypnogogic (subconscious) thought to contain more hallucinatory qualities. If SP is induced by using a short focused meditation the hallucinatory qualities will be less evident and the sensations can be viewed (or ignored) objectively.

So what are all these sensations about?

As we discussed above there are many sensations that bring about the cultural names attributed to SP and those described in the posts on this forum. These can be broken down into four main types.

•   Tactile sensations
•   Auditory sensations
•   Visual hallucinations
•   Perceived presence

Tactile sensations.

The main sensations felt during SP are commonly a buzzing or vibrational feelings in parts or throughout the body, the uncomfortable feelings of being pushed down or having a 'lead blanket'  (asphyxiation) over ones body and the inability to move (paralysis). However it isn't true paralysis. Paralysis is the total blockage of nerve messages sent to and from the brain. The partial paralysis during SP (REM atonia) is a one-way blockage (called neuron depolarization) of receptors turned off going to the muscle; and only striated (bone connected) muscles. This is REM atonia. As mentioned before, This ensures that we don't act out our NPR activities yet retains the ability to still receive feedback to the brain in case we are in trouble physically; like someone entering the room or a predator attacking us. During SP we are aware of this normally unconscious feedback from our muscles. When in REM atonia the one way signal is extremely low and rather than being a flowing sensation (one that we don't notice in waking life) it is staccato or strobe-like in nature and feels like an electric impulse. In fact, that is exactly what it is; low frequency electric impulses. This gives us the vibrational sensation. When we are calm and focused these vibrations are very subtle and can feel very gentle – very much like Nitrous Oxide intoxication. If we are fearful of the experience or panic our body releases adrenaline which stimulates the heart, pumping blood around the body causing violent and overwhelming vibrational buzzing.

The lead blanket or pressing is also caused by the REM atonia.  As we mentioned it's only striated muscle neurons that become depolarized leaving them unable to be controlled voluntarily. These include the intercostal muscles between your ribs. Involuntary breathing is autonomous during REM and is controlled entirely unconsciously by the hypothalamus in the brain and is carried out by the diaphragm muscles that aren't bone connected. When you panic or try to breath voluntarily during SP you are in effect fighting your brains automatic breathing system using paralyzed muscles; leading to the sensation of being sat upon or pressed down.  

Auditory sensations.

There are a plethora of sounds heard during SP such as Rumbling, buzzing, screaming, whistling, banging, electronic pulsing, footsteps, babbling, crying, laughing, white noise, ringing, a boing 747, wailing, whispering, words, sentences, marching, breathing, heart beat.... I could go on. While most of them are subjective and may be NPR in nature there are specific physical phenomena that occurs in the middle ear during REM that causes most of the vibratory, rumbling and buzzing noises.

Your middle ear consists of three little bones (the smallest bones in the body) that are hinged to allow for the passage of vibrations into your inner ear or cochlea. These bones have a really clever dampening mechanism that kicks in whenever a loud sound like a clap or bang is heard.

Go into a quiet room, clap your hands and you should hear a slight rumble in your ear during and after.

This is performed by your bodies smallest bone connected muscle (can you see where I'm going here?)  called the Timpani Tensor muscle. Some people can voluntarily tense this muscle causing the rumbling heard when you clapped.

During REM atonia these muscles naturally vibrate due to the depolarization and because they are part of your auditory system can be actually heard. The onset of SP is usually marked by little spasms of these muscles creating intermittent bursts of tickly rumbling. It can be quite pleasant.

Visual Hallucinations.

Our eyes and eyelids aren't controlled by bone connected muscles. This is why it's called REM – rapid eye movement. But although they aren't paralyzed they cant be moved very efficiently. This is why when one tries to open the eyes it is difficult to focus and indeed keep them binocular. What happens is akin to a 'magic eye' picture or any 3D effect. Your eyes naturally grab shadows and patterns that cause your eyes to bring two separate spots of darkness together – like a dark corner in your bedroom and a shadow caused by a cabinet or other object in the room next to it – causing a 3D effect. The shadow literally jumps out, proud of the surroundings. Now, couple this with the fact that you are also being fueled by fear and creating forms non-physically and you have yourself a perceived shadow creature.

Perceived presence or 'the intruder'

This is the most commonly reported aspect of SP yet is also the least specific and perhaps the most fundamental.  The terror that accompanies it is extremely common.  It is difficult to assess whether the sense of presence brings on the fear or whether the fear generates the sense of presence.

There are many variations of the presence... sometimes it is out of sight, just around the corner and sometimes fully realized in glorious HD. It is fair to assume that the latter is a nonphysical manifestation brought on by fear of the unknown.

To describe the process neurologically would require a bit of knowledge in neuroscience. I'll try to explain without getting too technical.

Studies show that when a person is experiencing SP the cortical center lights up like a pinball machine. The function of the cortical center is the synthesis and making sense of available stimuli. This part of the brain is normally on full power during waking life, but when in SP the information received is purely internal and filtered through the Amygdala, which is the raw emotional centre of the brain. The sense of presence is believed to be formed by this stimulation of the Amygdala by bursts originating in the Pontine Reticula formation (responsible for sleep-awake cycle). In normal 'emergencies fear reactions' the immediate sense of danger is quickly confirmed or disconfirmed. In the absence of outside stimuli, attempts to analyze the source of the fear will inevitably fail to produce corroboration. But the fear is originating  from within so what would normally last a second or two continues throughout the SP episode as a prolonged and rising sense of fear of your fear.

To put it very basically if you glazed over , you are sensing your fear sensing you sensing your fear sensing you sensing your fear and so on and so forth... a type of biometric feedback.

How can I stop the fear?

The way to fully put an end to the fear is to stop the SP process entirely. To play the 'get out of jail free' card either wiggle your toes, fingers or simply jerk your whole body physically. It takes a bit of willpower but is highly effective.

If you wish to carry on using SP as your springboard to NPR, You can meditate and focus yourself not to enter SP while you are thinking subconscious or hypnogogic thoughts. Maintain concentration.

Another way to overcome SP is by practice and repeated exposure to it.

There are many members here who can guide you to defeat the fear, whether through your belief or by pragmatic explanation.


SP is not a prerequisite for experiencing the NPR and can be avoided by not trying to phase or practice after a short nap. Although it is a direct root it can be a massive distraction and as I have explained most of the sensations are physical in nature. Your task is to direct your focus away form your physical, almost by performing a mock slow wave sleep (meditation/phasing) exercise.

Please be aware that this article is purely based on the physical phenomenology present during SP and in no way attempts to explain the more sublte non-physical interactions that may take place.

Please feel free to ask more questions as I have only explained the basics.

I will periodically update this post.


Ohayon,M.M.,Zulley,Guilleminault,C.andSmirne,S. - Prevalence and pathological associations of sleepparalysis in the general population.Neurol.,1999,52:1194–1200.

Jean-Christophe Terrillion - Does Recurrent Isolated Sleep Paralysis Involve More Than Cognitive Neurosciences? Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 15, No. 1, p. 97–123, 2001

Anna Pissiota - Fear, Startle, and Fear-Potentiated Startle, Probing Emotion in the Human Brain. Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of SocialSciences 127

William H. Cooke - Justice at Salem, Reexamining the Witch Trials. http://www.justiceatsalem.com/Cooke%20justice%20text%20100109.pdf

Cheyne, J.; Rueffer, S.; Newby-Clark, I. (1999). "Hypnagogic and Hypnopompic Hallucinations during Sleep Paralysis: Neurological and Cultural Construction of the Night-Mare". Consciousness and Cognition 8: 319–337.


Quote from: Bedeekin on November 06, 2012, 22:01:53
If SP is induced by using a short focused meditation the hallucinatory qualities will be less evident and the sensations can be viewed (or ignored) objectively.

This entire Sleep Paralysis article is very well written. I suggest someone should sticky this, since so many people ask questions about Sleep Paralysis.

The above Bedeekin quote is extremely important for people to understand. To me this short focused meditation or OBE technique is so important to achieve anything worthwhile with sleep paralysis. Otherwise, you are left with a groggy OBE of low quality.

The quicker the sleep paralysis induction, the better the resulting OBE is.


Sticky indeed!!

This one is also going up on my website!  ... assuming Bedeekin is okay with that.  ;)


 Excellent article Bedeekin. Very well articulated.  I'm sure all members can learn something profound from this!  :-)


Bedeekin. Solid work. I myself go in and out of paralysis all the time. Good stuff, and thank you for taking your time to do this.  :-)


Quote from: Xanth on November 06, 2012, 22:37:28
Sticky indeed!!

This one is also going up on my website!  ... assuming Bedeekin is okay with that.  ;)

Absolutely mate.

Cheers everyone, you're very kind. Now its off my chest (no pun intended) I can relax a little.  :wink:


An excellent post.
The explanations will answer many questions too.
I understand more about the effects of SP now. That enables an answer to a question with greater accuracy. SP and myself have never met, this fills that void.

With respect.
There's far more where the eye can't see.
Close your eyes and open your mind.

Mini stapler

Awesomely written Beedekin, very informative, & the formatting is easy on the eye too.


Admittedly I actually got the format of 'posing questions to answer' discussion from reading Bruce Lipton's book 'Spontaneous Evolution' ... It made it a really enjoyable read. Thanks tho... my previous articles were all over the place.


Hey guys well To start of I've been medetating for the third eye for about 5 sessions ( 45 minutes each) and when my (fourth session was over I opened my eyes and the lights (5) all over my room were flickering on and off enough so I could notice and I felt a great sensation of an astral presence in my room and I felt light headed as if there was too much astral energy of some sort in the room . I have astral traveled many times before and my experiences are quite intresting , I was in my kitchen then I went through my living room wall outside but after that I don't remember much and when I woke up I felt full of energy and ready to do anything well thats my experience so please give me an explanation to all of this . Thank you .


Awesome job!

Sleep paralysis has been a regular part of my life for the past 20 years. It only took the first 10 years to piece it all together :)
This write up will no doubt come in very handy for those that are currently sorting out SP.

Many Thanks for you time.



As you noticed, I posted this to my blog.  Which also posted to my facebook page.  :)

Hope you don't mind.  hehe


Absolutely not. I didn't know whether to comment on them "Thanks Xanth" that sort of thing. I didn't want to draw attention to myself though! HAHA



The transcribed results here are taken from an online questionnaire written by J. A. Cheyne... http://watarts.uwaterloo.ca/~acheyne/spquest01.html  a well known SP researcher and published in his paper "The Ominous Numinous Sensed Presence and 'Other' Hallucinations" and from an old website ran by Cheyne. The information isn't written well so I have took it upon myself to edit it for a more easy to read source of information.

Auditory Hallucinations

Auditory experiences are much more common than visual experience during SP, although both are significantly associated with the sensed presence. The association between sensed presence and auditory and visual hallucinations is only slightly consistent than that between sensed presence and fear. In general, visual hallucinations are probably quite rare outside of dreaming. Auditory hallucinations during SP are extremely diverse. Two qualities do seem to pervade all of this diversity, however. The sounds are very distinctly experienced as being external to the hearer rather than "in the head. The former appears to correspond to "inner speech", is more thought-like, and may be taken to be self-generated. The latter seem to be more like "hearing voices". In contrast to dreams the auditory experiences associated with SP are overwhelming of the former "hallucinatory" type.

Sounds — elementary.

Very often the auditory experiences are described only as "buzzing", "grinding," "humming," "ringing, "roaring", "rushing", "screeching", "squeaking", "vibrating", "whirring", and "whistling" sounds. These are sometimes accompanied by bodily sensations described as "tingling", "numbness", or "vibration". There may be some synesthesia being experienced here. These elementary sounds are often described as being very loud and "mechanical." There is little or no interpretative elaboration of these sensations. They are described in the most basic sensory terms available to the respondents.

*During the waking episodes I don't recall any sounds, but during the hypnagogic ones I get a loud rushing sound in my ears. Something like it sounds like when you put your fingers in your ears only it is very loud.  
*Sounds crescendo as the apparitions approach me. Whirling/ringing noise, sometimes gets unbearably intense. Once I thought my window fan was 'roaring'— the pitch gets higher sometimes, too.  
*Yes, during the 'buzz' which precedes or accompanies SP. I have heard resonating vibrations (at different  frequencies) and arrhythmic percussion, including bells.  
*A high, humming sound that gets louder and louder the farther I fall into the 'trance'.  
*On one occasion upon waking up in a paralysis, I heard pure tones of sound, but it wasn't music.  It was very erratic and unorganized.
*These particular auditory experiences are very similar to what some people describe as bodily sensations.
*Usually when waking up, also usually accompanied by INTENSE bodily vibrations.  
*I feel like my body is shaking like I am having a seizure or something.  
*Right as it starts, I feel like I'm being electrocuted slowly.  
*[bodily] tingling and vibrating  
*My whole body felt like it was vibrating inside at some incredible rate.  I was afraid that my body and my brain would not physically be able to stand it. I also felt a numbness and electrical vibration, and would feel stuck to my bed.  
*Like electricity going through my head  
*Maybe I might feel numb. It's really hard to tell when you can't move if you're numb or not. I definitely don't feel any tingling.  
*vibration in my hands is painful if prolonged
*I have frequent thought that the bed was being shaken.

One person explicitly made such a connection. In responding to a question about sounds this person remarked that it was "More of a bodily buzzing and swirling." Another suggested that "It's not exactly a sound. I felt a vibration inside my head that produced a noise. I felt as if satellite had been connected to my head. The vibration increases and don't stop until I manage to move. The last time it happened, it affected my left ear and I felt pain, as if my ear would blow up. The pain lasted for two days.

Sounds - Technological.

Many of these sounds are very much like the simple inanimate sounds except that they are identified with technical apparatuses that might produce such sounds.

*There is always a siren like screeching that gets louder and louder and some nights it's almost unbearable  
*The voice sounds from the ringing of the telephone, in a way wake to it and notice that I am paralyzed.  
*Two sounds are recurrent. One sound is like air entering a vacuum, it happens sometimes when entering or leaving the state as the ears become functional again. The other sound is like a radio being heard from another room in the house. Many stations at the same time, barely intelligible.  
*The sound was like high pitched power tools....drills or band-saws that were close to my ears and gained in volume and intensity until I felt like my head was going to explode.  
*A very loud combination of sounds...a constant crashing, glass breaking, train-like combination. loud sirens...almost deafening  

Sounds — Natural.

Alternatively, these sounds may be attributed, perhaps by the less technologically minded, to natural causes.

*A gust of wind appears, even though no windows are open  
*shrill whistling sounds, sound of 'wind'  
*A rushing/roaring sound like waves in a sea shell almost or maybe similar to white noise.  
*I felt I was in a sandstorm. I could hear the wind and sand rushing past my ears with a loud (sound) gust of wind

Sounds of Movement.

Although the quality of the sounds may be modified slightly when experiencing a ringing sound as a telephone, or a rushing sound as the wind it seems unlikely that the next set of sounds are simple transformations of simple sounds described above. A commonly reported sound is that of footsteps.

*Usually, it sounds like someone walking around the apartment. (I live alone.)  
*There was a sound rather like a cardboard box of some weight being dragged across a dusty wooden floor  
*Animal Sounds. Similarly, animal sounds of growling, snarling or just barking seem unlikely to be merely elaborations of simple sounds.  
*I have heard 'growls' like a dog from hell or some other monster!  
*Can be sounds of an explosion or really loud music or just recently, a sound like a herd of animals howling and screeching
*Human Non-speech Vocalizations.  

Sometimes sounds of moaning, screaming are reported, Laughing is sometimes reported as well.  

Sounds — Voices - indistinct and/or unintelligible.

Symons argues that, in dreams, voices are seldom heard as external sounds. Rather, conversations are experienced "in the head" as internal dialogue. The sense and meaning of conversations in dreams are what are experienced. Bergson discusses essentially the same idea. "Most of us at one time or another . . . have dreamed about speaking to someone or being engaged in a lengthy conversation only to have forced on us the singular realization that we are not speaking and had not spoken, and that our interlocutor had not uttered a single word. We had exchanged our thoughts and carried on an unequivocal conversation, yet we had heard nothing". Bergson further noted that "unless we are provided with some phonic substance, it is hard for us to fabricate sounds in our dreams". In contrast to dream voices SP voices are experienced as definitely externally produced sounds but of indefinite or nonsensical meaning. The voices may be experienced as quite loud shouting or soft whispering but, in either case, the sense of what is being said is elusive.

*I heard loud voices and thought there were people outside of my car, but there were not. (This person reported SP while napping in car.)  
*I also frequently hear voices saying nonsensical things when falling asleep.  
*I sometimes hear people (who I think are in the room talking), or music that I think my family or friends are playing.  
*I heard strange garbled voices whispering in my ears.  
*moaning and voices  
*I also frequently hear voices saying nonsensical things when falling asleep.  
*Loud noises and talking, but I could not make out what was being said.  
*Vague voices speaking sentences that were nonsense (but in English words)  
*Usually the sounds are that of people talking or yelling outside. Sometimes it will be a familiar voice like that of my mother. Usually unfamiliar. Many times I will hear high pitched noises, very loud, usually increasing if I don't wake up.  
*Loud noises and talking, but I could not make out what was being said.  
*Have had the sense that I was hearing sinister voices - saying nothing in particular  
*screaming like sounds  
*One time I awoke to find half snake/half human thing shouting gibberish in my ears.  
*On a few occasions it has whispered heavily in my ears. Once it spoke in a language I couldn't understand, the other times I couldn't remember what it had said after I woke up.
*Laughing and babbling background voices are common.

Sounds — Voices – distinct.

Occasionally the voices may produce intelligible utterances, but these are usually simple commands.

*But as I listened I could sense this  'thing' walk to hover over my head - very close directly over my ear. It said 'Freya!' . . . The voice continued 'I've got  work for you to do!' Then I listened as the presence hovered for a few seconds more and moved across the room to sit on my roommate's bed.  
*Sometimes hear voices, e.g., my name being called.  
*Usually voices. One time he (?) was using my name when speaking to me.  
*I heard a voice telling me I was playing the game wrong and I had to play it right or quit.  it was a woman's voice and she sounded as though she were in a lot of pain and very far away, then she said, he's coming and left.

In one case, a respondent heard the voice of someone who had actually threatened her in the recent past. "But as I listened I could sense this 'thing' walk to hover over my head - very close directly over my ear. It said 'Freya!' At first I thought - just my roomie - but I recognized the voice as a mystery caller who has harassed me twice." This is an interesting instance because we may be seeing here an example of someone explicitly running through a series of plausible interpretations for this unusual experience and settling on perhaps the most plausible given the context of sensed presence, fear and the recent threatening experience.

What is interesting and what many of you will realise while reading this is that J. A. Cheyne is a serious researcher and isn't prone to write anything that points to SP being anything other than medical in nature. Although when reading his material it is evident that he alludes to the evidence pointing to something 'other' but as we know... many serious scientists can only allude and never divulge their beliefs unless thoroughly 'tested' lest they be lambasted by their peers.





We'll just toss this one up next to the other one waaaaaaaay up top.   :)


I usually hear voices and footsteps. On occasion, I'll hear musical notes as if coming from a piano or electric keyboard.

I think it's a 50-50 mix of bodily function/and "other".

Thanks Beedeekin. Since this is my most often experienced problem with SP, I appreciated the attention on the auditory.

But while I was reading it, I realize that I often think my cat is walking on my bed. I feel her jumping on it but I always know when it's not her because she has a predictable pattern...Pounce twice on the bed and then my head. If the head pounce doesn't come, I know it's the ghost kitty. :lol:

It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.
Mark Twain


 Thank You for putting all this "much needed" info into a a easy to read and find Sitcky, Bedeekin!  :-)

We now have another excellent thread to direct new members to.  :-)

The "Sounds of Madness and Insanity" as so described by so many that aren't in the know, yet!  :wink:


Yep, that nails the sounds down pretty well.
Nice one. :-D
There's far more where the eye can't see.
Close your eyes and open your mind.


I am currently re-diting the other phenomenologies... that of the 'intruder' and 'visual' aspects based upon Cheyne's results and questionnaires. It's a shame we can't put them under some sort of umbrella 'sticky'. I've been meaning to do this for a while... Understanding SP is something that's overdue for those learning.

Quote from: its_all_bad on March 11, 2013, 21:44:25
But while I was reading it, I realize that I often think my cat is walking on my bed. I feel her jumping on it but I always know when it's not her because she has a predictable pattern...Pounce twice on the bed and then my head. If the head pounce doesn't come, I know it's the ghost kitty. :lol:

'perceived presence' is the next thing to tackle.  :wink:


 I had my own experience with this last night and was so annoyed with myself when I woke up.

I awoke in a Lucid Dream, went into a very strange form of SP, where I found myself just kind of floating in a dark tunnel, totally different then my usual SP experiences.

I stayed in this area until I lost my conscious awareness, just to awaken with people bombarding me and almost jumping on me screaming that something horrible had happened to MJ's one and only grandson.

It was extreme terror at the time. It made me feel even more for people that experience this the first time without knowing what it is.

Well, at the time, the knowing what it was wasn't there for me. Once I woke up I knew what had happened. It took me about a 1/2 hour to get rid of the chills.

Like I said, I was extremely annoyed with myself for getting "duped".

I awaken in Lucid Dreams every single night now, but for some reason, this "holding area" I found myself in was totally different. I haven't experienced this place at all, even while consciously Phasing. The feeling was completely new to me. It wasn't really vibrating and it wasn't really paralysis either.

It's really hard to explain. This is what I mean when I say we don't have any known words to "reference" what is happening to us.

It just goes to show, I still have a lot to learn.  :-P


Says the man regurgitating his own face... ;)

Great stuff!
Take to the sky, feeling so alive! Past the clouds to the Milky Way, share our secrets with the starry brigade. The stars surround us like a million fireflies. For once I see infinity... it's in your eyes.


Again this is information taken from answers given by those who filled in 'the Waterloo Unusual Sleep Experiences Questionnaire -VIIIa' by Al Cheyne Associate Professor Emeritus Department of Psychology University of Waterloo and edited for ease of reading also from his papers 'The Ominous Numinous Sensed Presence and 'Other' Hallucinations' and 'Situational factors affecting sleep paralysis and associated hallucinations: position and timing effects'

The Phenomenology and Ontology of Presence 
On reflection, the notion of pure presence is very odd to contemplate. If you were here I could see you, hear your voice, and touch you. My sense of your presence would seem to be the sum total of all of this evidence of my senses. That I would have, in addition to all of this a separate experience of your existence seems superfluous. That I would have some need of a sense of your presence without the evidence of my senses seems very unproductive. Yet, experience of the "sensed" presence would seem to argue that there is indeed something over and above the sum of our sensory experiences. 
Perhaps the phrase, "sensed presence" is an oxymoron, for there is no sensory evidence of the presence. To say that it is "unsensed" seems even worse. It is more an intuition of a presence. Perhaps it would be best to call it an "experienced presence," or an experience of a presence." It is an experience without a modality, neither seen nor heard, nor able to be touched. In any case these terms are awkward if, perhaps, somewhat more accurate. We will accept a modicum of incongruity and continue with the phrase, "sensed presence" and acknowledge that that it not sensory in the usual meaning of having a particular modality.

Is the sensed presence a hallucination? It clearly lacks the central requirement of discrete sensation. The sensed presence is more like a simple awareness or apprehension of a person or thing in the room. Yet there is the conviction that the entity exists outside and independently of the person. Even without further auditory, tactile, or visual sensations it often has more than the feeling of a mere suspicion or hunch. The sense of presence may be very strong and it clearly seems to be quite real, external, and independent. Yet, for all that there remains a sense that there is indeed a feeling of "seeming" to all this, possibly, at least in part, because of a lack of confirmation from any specific modality. In some cases the presence may be described as "invisible." However, most often it is simply "unseen", that is, respondents report the impression that the presence is "just out of sight." If only one could turn around it would prove to be quite visible

Mere Presence

Often the sensed presence is described as just that, a neutral, or perhaps slightly uneasy, feeling that someone or something is present in a room or surrounding area with the person. As a "mere presence" this experience has no sensory associates, nor does it provoke a strong emotional reaction or complex interpretations. One has the definite impression that there is something external to oneself yet with no confirming sensory experience of that entity.

*I 'feel' something, never seeing it. 
*I just sense something or someone has entered the room. 
*I never saw the entity . . . just felt its presence.

As noted above the sensed presence is not a part of everyone's SP experience. Moreover, those who do report the sensed presence do not report having the experience every time. "1/3 of the occasions through my life, the disturbance has been accompanied with a feeling of a presence in my bedroom. A great fear usually overcomes me, but only about a 1/3 of the events do I feel a presence." The foregoing quote also illustrates the sense of fear that often accompanies the sense of presence. The association between the sense of presence and fear will become increasingly evident as we proceed. This may also be experienced as a feeling of threat or domination. "The sensation is of a presence which is more powerful than me and dominates completely." 

A Monitoring Presence

The presence associated with sleep presence may also be endowed with certain minimal "psychological" qualities such as that of attention. The presence is often somehow attending to, watching, or monitoring the subject. It is "as if someone that I couldn't see was there, watching." One of the most common comments about the SP experience is that "It feels as if someone is standing there watching me." Respondents are frequently puzzled that they are unable to specify how they know this or even where precisely they think the presence is located. "You feel that someone is looking at you and you don't know where they specifically are." Aside from being very disconcerting this must certainly contribute to the otherworldly sense of the presence. In slightly stronger terms other respondents will describe the presence as "staring at," rather than merely watching, them.

The sensed presence may form the core of subsequent hallucinations involving several modalities. Although very few people actually make the suggestion spontaneously, one respondent was quite specific about the transformation. "The unseen presence starts to emerge as a formed being." Since the presence is usually perceived of as threatening, the interpretation is usually of a presumably readily available innate, "prepared," or conventional image of image of something mysterious and threatening.

Realistic Interpretations

The presence is not always immediately interpreted as something bizarre or frightening. Occasionally, the presence is thought to be someone who might plausibly be thought to be ready to hand.

*At some point in the episode, I also usually think that one of my roommates is trying to wake me up, but cannot. 
*I thought the presence was my roommate returning from class.

Most of these experiences are reasonable attempts to interpret a feeling that someone or something is present in the room. Sometimes the presence may be associated with sensory experiences.

*I sometimes thought my wife had come into the room, but subsequently realized that she was not there at which time the presence rapidly turned into a sinister presence. In this case I had been making a low moaning sound in an attempt to alert her to my condition. After a few moments I heard footsteps coming up the stairs, along the hall, and into the room. I inferred was that it was my wife approaching. The footsteps appeared to stop at the side of the bed and I waited for her hand to shake my shoulder. When this did not happen I realized that she was not there and, on reflection, realized that she was not even in the house. I was then immediately filled with a sense of dread and formed a distinct awareness of a sinister presence in the room. In this case the sense of a sinister presence was associated with, and seemed to be caused by, the auditory experiences. Al Cheyne

A similar experience involving the hallucination of someone approaching to arouse one from SP was reported by one of the respondents. In the following case we also have an illustration of the interaction (and confusion) between endogenous and exogenous sources, and between illusion and reality, that characterize the HHEs (hypnagogic and hypnopompic experiences) of SP. 

*The oddest experience I've ever had was the last episode I had. My boyfriend was watching TV in the living room and I was taking a nap on my couch, I was going through SP but decided to wait it out. All of a sudden I felt a presence behind me. It was making horrifying sound (I thought Death himself came to visit me). I realized my mouth had a little opening. I started to breathe as hard as I could to get my boyfriend's attention. It worked. He sat next to me. I was so relieved that for the first time I had reached somebody while I was in this phase. I thought he touched me on the forehead so that I could be released from the SP but it was my imagination that thought he touched me. When I realized he didn't touch me I started breathing hard again. Right after that, I got out of the SP and saw my boyfriend next to me. I asked him why he didn't touch me when I was panting in my sleep. He thought I was having a bad dream.

Very often, however, the presence is associated with threat and menace. The threatening presence is not always subject to bizarre or otherworldly interpretations. Often people make very plausible assessments of the situation in terms of conventional sources of danger.

*Sometimes, in these situations, I feel like there might be a prowler in the house, even though I know this is impossible. 
*I constantly think that there are 'bad' people (such as burglars, rapists, etc.) in the room with me. 
*The second episode I ever had involved a strange man sitting on the edge of my bed. The room was dark, but my eyes were open and I was terrified that there was someone in my room (or so I thought).

An Evil Presence

Even with no further information or untoward incidence, many respondents appear to have an immediate intuition that the presence is someone or something to be feared. "The presence brought fear with it." The presence is commonly interpreted as possessed of a malevolent, evil intent. Some descriptions never become elaborated beyond a sense of dread, and a fear of impending doom and even death, provoked by this evil presence. "It felt like something threatening was standing beside me." A feeling of urgency and flight may accompany the feelings of fear. "I always feel like I am in grave danger if I don't wake myself up as soon as I can." The presence may even be personified as death. "I've also felt a presence but never see it. Like Death was breathing down my back." The presence may be rendered even more concrete. "My only thought of death was not from my paralysis, rather, from my fear of the 'reality' of my visitor's presence. I thought 'My God! What is this sicko going to do?!?'" We have been especially struck with the frequency that the specific term "evil" is applied to this presence, even by people to whom this term does not readily spring to mind.

*There is usually always an intense feeling of extreme evil surrounding me. 
*I also feel a presence in my mind (like something sinister or evil) that is trying to draw me into an extremely deep, permanent sleep. I feel that if I succumb, I will never wake up. 
*The presence of evil taking over my body? 
*I was very afraid and I felt an evil presence or presences that I could not see. 
*usually an evil presence
*Scary sensation, like something evil was in the room.

The sense of evil is often made concrete by the experience of the presence as a devil, demon, or other inhuman, even unnatural, creature.

*At times I thought it was the devil, other times it was aliens, but almost always I felt the presence was going to harm me. 
*The worst time was: I was lying on my back and when the episode started I opened my eyes and saw what I thought at the time was the devil coming like a bullet straight at me. 
*A few times, I felt like I was with the devil (I always think it is the devil).  He is usually behind me and I feel like we are flying through the air at warp speed and I actually see the view of the room as I am moving and passing by everything. 
*I saw/felt that I was being attacked by a VERY ferocious phantom dog, almost mythical in nature.

Multiple Identifications of the Presence 

Often people run quite explicitly through a series of possibilities, alternating between considering mundane and exotic, vague and specific, and benign and frightening, possibilities. It is also clear that these alternatives are often entertained as possibilities, as hypotheses with varying merits. Some or all of these hypotheses may be recognized and identified as preposterous or at least extremely unlikely. Such assessments do not, however, necessarily detract from the vividness or compelling nature of the experiences. As one respondent put it, the experience is "100% REALISM. But makes no sense." The entire affair is, experientially, utterly compelling, while at the same time capable of interpretation only in terms that are often quite unbelievable. In some case there appears to be a blurring of sensed presence and visual hallucinations.

*Sometimes it's an animal, sometimes like an alien, and recently, some kind of demonic presence. Quite spooky! 
*Have seen everything from giant spiders (3' diameter) to dead friends (suicide-related), rarely seen form clearly. [There are] several types. Dark tall strong but "formless" bodies where you can't see exact entity but a haze or black cutout figure. Other times with child-like beings  . . . will see small child-like creatures, but hardly believe these to be real entities but from imagination or inserted image 
*The first shape I saw was a cloth-like triangle hanging or balanced in mid air and appeared to be a crude form with a hat. Funnily enough it reminded me of the Sandeman logo. I sat up after this went away and for a minute or two was in shock as to what this was. I lay down to think what to do. A visible figure appeared at a height of about 18 inches approx. above me the angle and the width of the bed meant it must have been hovering. From it first appearance I was paralyzed and had pain I have described it was a very forceful presence which 'breathed' with an aspirated wheezing. 
*I have imagined burglars, rapists, terrorists, monsters, demons, and the devil all in my room. Sometimes they just stare or laugh at me while I lay helpless and other times they try to attack me.  Often times I feel like evil spirits have put a spell on me and are trying to steal my soul while I am asleep and helpless to stop them or wake up. 
*There are a variety of different hallucinations from wolves to terrified children to daemons. Mine appear as demons. I have no fear of death or ordinary life happenings like dogs or murderers . . . I see demons. Usually it is one regular visitor whom I have never met

Not surprisingly, some women experience not only the threat of rape but sometimes also rape itself. Occasionally, the presence is a bit more active, moving about but usually remaining close to the person.

*Once, I felt as if someone were walking around my bed, and then they sat down next to me."

Or worse, The threat becomes more concrete.

*I feel fairly certain that if I let the apparitions get all the way up to me, they will kill me. I have fought out of this to prevent getting too close to the possibility. Each time it happens, I am scared they will kill me, especially if I let them 'take' me out of my body.

The Presence and the Terror 

One major difference between SP with HHEs and dreams is the relatively high rate of reporting fear during the former. McCarley & Hobson report that only slightly more than 12% of dream reports make reference to emotions, although half of these were to fearful emotions. More recently Hobson and his colleagues have reported much higher proportions (95%), presumably as a result of using specific probes for emotion. In that study slightly less than one-third of the reports were of anxiety or fear. In contrast, we have found that, depending on the sample characteristics, between 66% and 98% of reports of SP report experiences of fear. The higher percentage was reported by unsolicited responses to a web survey and may be biased by the fact that people who have had more frightening experiences during SP were more likely to seek out the questionnaires. The other samples were not self-selected and this bias would not have been present. Nonetheless, the estimates of two-thirds are considerably higher than those reported for dreams in general and consistent with the rate of 67% reported for SP. Given the prevalence of interpretations of threat and evil associated with the sensed presence it is scarcely surprising that the predominant emotion is that of fear, or rather, in the words of one respondent, "absolute cold terror." Respondents are often most emphatic about the extreme nature of their fear,

*The greatest primal terrors that I have ever witnessed: Character forming stuff - I can't imagine anything in reality that could cause greater fear than these episodes. 
*There are not words strong enough to describe the horrific fear I felt (feel). 
*Nearly always I feel a fear or a horror. 
*The whole experience is extremely terrifying. 

Many respond to the query about "fear" with unabashed contempt for the inadequacy of the term to describe their emotion. 

*The word 'fear' doesn't even come close. 
*Panic is more like it! 
*Fear is not a strong enough word! Terrified or panicked might be a better choice. 
*How about "overwhelming terror?"  These attacks leave me shuddering and crying.  Sometimes I'm so scared I get sick to my stomach.

These experiences of dread and terror associated with the sensed presence are also clearly different from fear associated with specific fears of paralysis, death, or suffocation. "I have had paralysis, where by I had difficulty breathing that was not associated with a presence and I felt like I might die. Or an urgency to wake up and if I didn't I might die... however, these experiences are distinct and different than the experiences of having a presence in the room." Although the fear may sometimes be ascribed to the fear of the paralysis itself, or that the presence will cause physically harm, many acknowledge that there is something uncanny about the sense of dread. "I literally fear for my soul."