We've likely all experienced it at one point or another. You're falling asleep, or just waking up, and you go to turn on your side... but you can't. Your legs and arms are like cement, plastered to your mattress, and you can't move.
Then suddenly, you sense something moving in the darkness of your room. It starts in the corner, and slowly makes its way towards your bed. You try and call for help, to scream for anyone to come help you, but you can't. You may even begin to choke as a hand slowly grasps around your neck.
And then suddenly, you sit up. Panic-stricken, you look desperately around your room for the creature that you swear was JUST there! But it's gone. Sound even a little familiar?
Before there were studies of the condition, folklore went rampant about what could be causing these frightening moments. There weren't any scientific explanations at the time, and so the paranormal, supernatural or Godlike were blamed.
The devil and demons were both found to be the cause in folklore going back to Grecian times. But those demons had to leave, as their "magical enchantments must fail, upon cock’s crow." All of these beliefs now have a scientific basis in today's world, including this last myth. So what's really happening?
Sleep paralysis happens when a person's mind is awake, but their body is still asleep
. It occurs just as people are falling asleep, but even more when they're about to wake up. That's why the demons were chased out by a rooster's crow, because the person likely woke up to one!
Your mind and body are now in a state between waking up and being asleep, and that's where all kinds of weird start happening. The reason you're paralyzed is actually natural — it happens anyway while you're in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, where most dreaming occurs.
That brings up the next point: those creepy shadows in your bedroom. It seems pretty damn real, right? Well, fortunately for you, those are simple hallucinations.
You may seem conscious, but your mind is still dreaming. That's why everything seems so vivid. OK, so now that we know what's happening, how do you make the madness stop?!
In any case, if it becomes a concern you can always speak with your doctor about sleep paralysis. And rest easy knowing it's not a demon sucking out your soul as you sleep!