10 Terrifying Facts About Sleep Paralysis

Lists, Science, Shocking

Sleep paralysis is probably one of the strangest most terrifying conditions human beings can ever experience. Take, for example, waking up in the middle of the night and experiencing one of the most terrifying feelings you could ever go through. Those suffering from sleep paralysis are awake, but somehow still asleep at the same time. They are unable to move, unable to speak, and in some cases unable to control their own minds. Some people witness strange beings or shadow people. Here are ten terrifying sleep paralysis facts.

Sleep Paralysis

To start, sleep paralysis is the feeling of being completely conscious, but being unable to move and speak. This usually happens when someone is in-between being completely awake and fully asleep. It usually lasts a couple of seconds.

Woken Up Dead

A lot of those suffering from sleep paralysis have thought they have woken up completely dead. They tend to think their mind has awoken, but their body never will again. Some report being trapped inside their own bodies, like a flesh tomb.

Two Types

According to recent science, there are currently two types of sleep paralysis: isolation sleep paralysis and recurrent isolation sleep paralysis. The first is those who suffer it once or twice, the second is multiple episodes throughout one’s lifetime.


Recurrent isolation sleep paralysis is far more intense, as it can sometimes last up to one hour, and is generally accompanied by some type of an out-of-body experience. This means the sufferer will witness themselves while asleep.


Most of those who suffer from the troubled state of mind generally say it feels as if someone was in the room with them, or watching them from very nearby. It is a terrifying experience for those people, and most never get over it fully.

First Recorded Case

The first recorded case comes from Persian medical texts, which date back to around the tenth century. This first observed case was by a Dutch physician back in 1664, who diagnosed an older woman with nothing more than “nightmares.”


Skeptics suggest sleep paralysis and the hallucinations that some people seem to experience while in the midst of it can be explained by demons sitting on someone’s chest while they sleep. Some believe it is a religious vision.

Henry Fuseli

Henry Fuseli’s The Nightmare is said to be inspired by his interest in sleep paralysis and the interest of local doctors. There is a scary, tiny monster in the painting, which is said to be the demon sitting on a woman’s chest while she sleeps.

National Library of Medicine

Back in 2005, the National Library of Medicine in the National Institutes of Health conducted a study about sleep paralysis. They claim some individuals believe they are abducted by aliens during this time period, and end up in a weird room.

Sexual Arousal

Sometime in the 1940s, scientists thought that waking up during sleep paralysis was actually repressed libido drives coming to the forefront. It is said some people felt sexually aroused while waking up in the middle of the night.